On Second Thought
Jane’s Addiction - Ritual De Lo Habitual






for better or worse, we here at Stylus, in all of our autocratic consumer-crit greed, are slaves to timeliness. A record over six months old is often discarded, deemed too old for publication, a relic in the internet age. That's why each week at Stylus, one writer takes a look at an album with the benefit of time. Whether it has been unjustly ignored, unfairly lauded, or misunderstood in some fundamental way, we aim with On Second Thought to provide a fresh look at albums that need it.

Here they come, fucking shit up, sucking shit up, taking your daughters on stage and making... them... do... things... Look away, moral guardians. Look away, those of a nervous disposition. Jane’s Addiction are not for the faint-hearted, this music is not for conservatives, republicans, librarians, doctors, lawyers, teachers, parents. This music is not for you. You don’t understand it. Look away. This music will steal your VCR, your soiled underwear, your medicine cabinet, your daughter’s virginity, your dignity. Your soul itself is not safe. Look away. Look away.

A Spanish girl says something sensual and seductive, and then a glorious, hedonistic racket starts up and the party you once heard about from a guy with some bad drugs who you met the morning-after a damaged night-before starts up and grabs your arms, your face, licks your face, pushes its hand down your pants, tells you it wants to fuck you dry and then drops you, spent, cursing, confused, on the floor. And then picks you up and fucks you harder and faster and rougher than you’ve ever been fucked before. And then drops you.

Look away, moral guardians. This is not the place for you. This music is not for you. It is for the garbage, the fuck-ups, the weirdos, the freaks you fix your eyes beyond and walk past late at night, drug-stained and degenerate, the people who don’t vote, don’t pay taxes, don’t pay heed to your world anymore than you pay heed to theirs. Look away. This is thrashy, nasty, bastard music, it stole its eyes from Jesus, it stole its pumping heart from Africa, it stole its mind from heroin, it stole its face from the streets you won’t walk down even in the fucking daylight. Look away. You might not like what you see if you don’t.

Decadent, nihilistic, talented and confrontational, Jane’s Addiction were born in early ‘80’s LA, Perry Farrell allegedly trawling the city’s subterranean music holes for talent, trying to steal a band together. He found Dave Navarro, Stephen Perkins, Eric Avery, and Jane’s Addiction began, a heady, deadly concoction of drugs, violence, metal, funk, prog, jazz, folk, art-house posturing, sex, voodoo, and insanity. A live LP, a deal with Warner Brothers and the studio debut Nothing’s Shocking followed, a flurry of whores, madness, lysergic instability, oceanic rock, narcotic ballads and excess captured at high velocity on wax.

1990. Jane’s Addiction unleashes Ritual De Lo Habitual, a libidinous psyche-rock masterpiece, strung-out, fucked-up, disorienting and inspirational. Split in two halves, the first assaults you, a relentless, dynamic five-song set that embraces punk, funk, metal and rock, the sounds of the LA underground, each tune wired and frenetic. Navarro’s guitar lines spill like electricity from the speakers, live shards, trashy and sharp, the bass is deep and funked and breaks bones in the company of the drums, huge, cavernous things that make you shake and sweat. And on top of all this is Perry Farrell’s voice, high and mad, straight through hysteria and into the other side, beyond loss of control and into Nietzschean territory, pure existential empowerment, total control, subservience of the body to the mind’s will, “bumped my head, I'm a battering ram / goddamn took the pain / cut myself, said 'so what?' / motherfuckin' took the pain...” wisdom and madness intertwined, naked on each other’s bodies, “fools don’t fit in the boots that I tread in”, Farrell a prophet, a seer, a hedonist, nihilist, antagonist, lunatic... What the fuck is this music about? “Farm people / book wavers / soul savers / love preachers!” Everything, everything, everything. Indecipherable, everything! Racial harmony and sensory overload, theft, rape, human nature... The first side is a smash-and-grab, a hit-and-run, unreported, unseen, deadly, fast, spiralling fast and sharp and out of in under lose control, explosive, violent...

The second side is... Predators, consumers, animals, lust, art, a tryst? “Three lovers in three ways...” Four songs, the first two alone pass twenty minutes together, stretched beyond breaking point, stretched into something approaching... what? Knowledge? Pain? Love? Disgust? All of these things are the same. “Without game / men prey on each other... / we choose no kin / but adopted strangers”, our bestial nature, our savagery, our baseness, glorious, understood, not disgusted by it but... enlightened? Yes, yes! “All of us with wings!” This is us... Hypnosis, mysticism, “a sea of candles”, unfulfilled, disconcerting, disturbing, strung... way... out... and then, somehow, from somewhere, a balm, an ocean like glass, to sink in, tranquil, a woman, a girl, an affair to save you. “Goodnight...”

This music. This music will consume you. It will take hold of your head and turn you round to face in new directions. Hold it in your hands, drink it in, look at it, it is voodoo, it is a lover, an abuser, a teacher, if you let it. Don’t be scared, shocked, disgusted, don’t hold your mind closed. Listen! Know...


By: Nick Southall
Published on: 2003-09-01
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