John Frusciante
The Empyrean


3.5
great

Review

by Jared W. Dillon USER (118 Reviews)
January 28th, 2009 | 150 replies | 30,227 views


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Frusciante's latest acts as a meeting point for all of his previous work.

1 of 1 thought this review was well written

John Frusciante as a solo artist and John Frusciante as the Red Hot Chili Peppers' guitarist have proven themselves to be two vastly different concepts. RHCP over the past decade have become one of the biggest bands in the world and in turn has slowly lost what originality they once had. Frusciante since his 1992 departure from the Chili Peppers has been crafting extremely personal solo releases that build on his plethora of influences from Funkadelic to Kraftwerk. His solo success flourished in 2004 as he released numerous records all with their own unique divulgence into a variety of his techniques and styles. 'The Empyrean' is in a sense the first record where Frusciante has reigned in all of his influences and sounds to craft a record and by doing that he has crafted what can only be described as his most coherent release.

Similar to 'Shadows Collide With People', 'The Empyrean' comes across as one of Frusciante's more accessible records. The songs here are all presented differently, but Frusciante is embracing the more appropriate and recognizable artists that he lists as influences. Music from the 1970s as a whole is splattered across 'The Empyrean' with the first track being indebted to the timeless 'Maggot Brain' and track two being a Tim Buckley cover. Frusciante's guitar theatrics are also given a chance to fully be explored on the more progressive tracks like "Unreachable" and "Central". These more developed guitar parts seem to have come from Frusciante's partnership with Omar Rodriguez-Lopez which has certainly helped his music become more eccentric and complex, rather than diluting into the simplicity of typical solo artist material. The best part of the album is probably found in the three song suite of ‘Heaven’, ‘Enough of Me’, and ‘Central’. ‘Heaven’ is a stark ballad, ‘Enough of Me’ an effect ridden pop track with an explosive ending featuring John’s best solo on the record and ‘Central’ is of course as I mentioned the final epic of ‘The Empyrean’.

For those fans of his that have been embracing his solo work for years the other worldliness of Frusciante's concept for this record will seem like common ground. His interviews have always revealed a man who after his addictions and near death experiences came out enlightened and almost religiously awakened. While this kind of contextual background behind his work may not be a drawing point it is puzzling that some reviews of this album have seemed to criticize Frusciante for simply being himself. His mannerisms throughout his careers have always seemed very based in the exploration of faith and as always it isn't like these concepts are overbearing, simply just a reasoning behind the composer's work.

Although 'The Empyrean" has few criticisms, its lack of straying from his previous work may be a problem for some. 'Curtains', 'DC EP', and the other records Frusciante released before 'The Empyrean' pointed towards a more personal and intimate take where his latest in reality rivals 'Shadows Collide With People' both of them existing as his most bombastic and approachable releases. 'Dark/Light' comes off as an embellished b-side to 'To Record Water For Only Ten Days'. 'One More of Me' which features a string quartet feels over bloated and entirely out of place. It certainly is not a bad song just a bad choice for this particular record as it focuses almost entirely on a Frusciante vocal performance where most of the rest of the album is mainly concerned with textural, atmospheric musical elements. This sentiment kind of says a lot about what there is to dislike on 'The Empyrean'. Nothing is essentially bad, it just seems like some of the tracks and moments were tacked on rather than presenting themselves as fully developed ideas. Back in 2004 this would’ve made sense as Frusciante was releasing record after record, but after four years of no new material 'The Empyrean' comes off as a little too immediate and lacking replay value. Still, the notable tracks certainly makes this far away from a failure and the record as a whole is yet another solid presentation of Frusciante's unique take on his own solo career.



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user ratings (484)
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Comments:Add a Comment 
McP3000
January 28th 2009



3941 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

i adore his solo work

Spamue1G
January 28th 2009



1292 Comments


As above. Especially To Record Only Water... and Shadows Collide With People.

pixiesfanyo
January 28th 2009



1222 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Shadows Collide With People kinda blows. His only weak moment in my mind.

ASberg
January 28th 2009



2161 Comments


I am so getting this. He's much better off solo.


SnackaryBinx
January 28th 2009



2309 Comments


the trolls are pretty bad this year.

Mendigo
January 28th 2009



2299 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

just got this - I hope it's a good starting point for his solo work, as it's my first Frusciante album. gonna listen to it later today.

Voytek
January 28th 2009



139 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great review!

Bories36
January 28th 2009



12 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Amazing review, good work. You show you know what you are talking about and put everything in perspective. This album is one of my favorite of all time and this review does it justice.

Mendigo
January 28th 2009



2299 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

shouldn't there be some kind of a time span of more than one week between the release date and the first "best album of all time" comments?

CrazyFool84
January 28th 2009



1080 Comments


Haha this must be pretty damn impressive then Bories...nice job on the review, definitely gonna take a listen to this

McP3000
January 28th 2009



3941 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

[quote=pixiesfanyo]Shadows Collide With People kinda blows. His only weak moment in my mind.[/quote]
SCWP is my favorite release by him :[

iarescientists
January 28th 2009



5863 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

you're ignorant is pretty opinion

PuddleSwimmer
January 28th 2009



1457 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Shadows is pretty kickass, as is Empyrean

Bories36
January 28th 2009



12 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Haha, I listen to a lot of JF and have listened to the Empyrean roughly 50 times all the way through. Just check last.fm/user/bories36 if you want to see how much I love John. And even if its not your favorite album, you will be sure to like it!

PuddleSwimmer
January 28th 2009



1457 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

God is such an awesome track

TricksterGRex
January 28th 2009



2087 Comments


Never checked out his solo work before, guess I should start.

McP3000
January 28th 2009



3941 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

get this, curtains, and shadows collide with people

also Niandra Lades if you feel like delving into the weird stuff

Tulannical
January 29th 2009



2051 Comments


he is so much better solo than in a band (TMV is exception)

Knott-
Emeritus
January 29th 2009



10194 Comments


Tempted to rate everything of his as a 1 just because according to Bories everything he's released is a 5 and everything Coldplay have released is a 1.

Mendigo
January 29th 2009



2299 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

doesn't sound too impressive upon first listen. but not bad either. I'll give it a few more listens.



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