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Old 03-29-2011, 11:17 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Join Date: Mar 2011
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Default John Frusciante - Empyrean Album Review

Bubbling silently under the surface of the full line up lingers the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ dirty little secret. John Frusciante, lead guitarist of the band, releases his tenth solo album that’s more Chili’s than the Peppers. Moody and funk-riddled, this barrage of moody guitar solos and juicy harmonies will make you question if Kiedis [RHCP lead singer] has any role in the Chili’s songwriting at all. The final nail in the coffin of Pepper doubt is the album’s cast; Flea and Smith provide rhythm alongside additional guitar from Josh Klinghoffer [RHCP guitar as of mid 2010.] It’s the Chili line up without the front man.
Ultimately however this is NOT a Chili Pepper album, in all honesty, it’s far better. This album represents what the band could have achieved if Anthony were to pass the vocal baton to the guitarist. Unfortunately, the album is not without flaws and elements of certain tracks are unforgiveable.

1. Before the Beginning: This 9 minute behemoth of an introduction demonstrates some of Frusciante’s finest guitar improvisation. However, without structure the golden moments of this track are drowned within a swathe of irritating guitar-based torture. Try your best to blank the drums out on this track entirely.

2. Song to the Siren: The records first track to feature Frusciante’s vocals is actually a cover of Tim Buckley’s Song To The Siren. The track is beautiful though comprised almost solely of reverb. A decent effort at a lyrical masterpiece.

3. Unreachable: Finally, we get to the meat of the album, by this point we are desperate for some REAL John, and he does not disappoint. The vocals are saturated in swaths of the delicious chorus effect. His voice undeniably Frusciante, the song reeks of all the things that made the recent Chili material exciting but is exempt of all that which made it disappointing – lifelessness.

4. God: This track deals with; you’ve guessed it…religion (we think). Over a synth-based backdrop Frusciante spouts the most nonsensical lyrics ever conceived but by the time the guitar solo kicks in, that is irrelevant, you’re sold. AND a believer.

5. Dark/Light: A ballad’esque track that starts with an enchanting moodiness and ends with a disappointing and mind numbingly persistent outro that kicks in at about 3 minutes. 5 solid minutes of tedium later and (if you’ve managed to evade the ‘skip’ button) it finally ends. Finally.

6. Heaven: Without doubt an album highlight, beautiful lyrical imagery and subtly beautiful guitar playing. An underlying organ gradually builds the track from delicate hymn to eclectic, vibrant and visceral montage of Frusciante’s best work. Screams of ‘yeah’ contrast the track but reinstall a sense of intrigue.

7. Enough of Me: More exquisite vocals, this time painted flawlessly over a synth and organ based canvas. Hints of gravel in his voice emerge between breathes of ethereal falsetto. The track builds into the full line up quicker than most of the tracks. One of the albums most dynamic and varied tracks. This track however does sport some questionable vocal effects that can detract from the natural beauty of his voice. Once again, a guitar solo kicks in around the half way mark, however this one is forgivably beautiful.

8. Central: Here it is…the album’s finest moment. An incredibly beautiful piano part that contrasts entirely to the rest of the record. Drums that thud prior to the chorus, commanding your attention. A chorus to die. Motifs in the verses that leave you rewinding seconds on your iPod just to relive the experience. Single worthy and the best song Frusciante has ever had an input into. Another guitar solo, but hey, by this point we are immune.

9. One More of Me: This is essentially the same track as enough of me; the vocal track has been deepened and the arrangement is focused more on strings and initially you wont realize this is the same song. Its brilliant. Its genius. Written to co-exist with Enough of Me. Try playing Enough of Me and One More of Me at the same time, the effect is stunning.

10. After the ending: A perfect conclusion to the album, it elegantly wraps up all of the loose ends and leaves you breathless. Ultimately this is an unforgettable ending that will leave you desperate to start the record again.

By Luke De-Sciscio
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