Review Summary: Whether it’s the skepticism of Ricky or the sheer optimism of The Slaughter, “Shadows Collide With People” delivers on all cylinders.
Once every few years, I encounter an album that changes my musical taste. When I was eleven, I remember listening to Third Eye Blind’s self-titled release, singing along with every track and playing the record continuously. When I grew a bit older, I worshipped Linkin Park’s “Hybrid Theory” as if it was revolutionary. In the following years, Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” and Pearl Jam’s “Ten” served as turning points for my musical taste, and are a major factor in what I listen to now. This past summer, I encountered a similar phenomenon when I least expected it.
As a Red Hot Chili Peppers fan, I had never quite gotten around to listening to John Frusciante’s solo work until this summer. I purchased “Shadows Collide With People” with the assumption that this would be just another good album, which was true; at first. While working on a golf course, I gave the record a few listens on my ipod, and at first thought; this is pretty good. Somewhere around that 4th or 5th listen, “Shadows Collide With People” clicked for me in a way I never would have imagined. I would consider this to be one of the most influential albums to both my music making and music taste that I have ever listened to.
When listening to this the first few times you may ask yourself: What is really so great about this? The record is composed of 18 tracks, only two exceeding six minutes and several that don’t surpass three minutes. The instrumentation is somewhat simple, there is drums, bass, and electric and/or acoustic guitars, although occasionally keyboards and strange effects make an appearance. Frusciante does not have one of the greatest voices in the history of music, nor does he have one of the best in modern music. His range however is excellent, changing from a falsetto to a growling yell, and his emotion is utterly amazing. In the opener Carvel
, Frusciante’s falsetto and growl are in full effect, especially in the track’s final moments, “And I wouldn’t have it any other way.” Carvel
is truly a brilliant song, beginning with strange water-like effects and building to one of the most upbeat tracks. The bass pounds, and is accompanied by guitar volume swells. Carvel
gives off almost a mysterious vibe, and sets the tone for rest of the record. Frusciante’s pure emotion is clear in This Cold
, passionately annunciating at the end of each verse, and powerfully yelling, “I feel this cold! Never stay and I never go.”
Frusciante’s songwriting ability is not to go unmentioned, for this is another characteristic that makes him so great. The tandem of Song to Sing When I’m Lonely
and Time Goes Back
hold true to this, and are two of the greatest songs Frusciante has written. Song to Sing When I’m Lonely
is the most perfectly written track on the record; you can feel John’s ache when he sings, “Out of place in my own time, drowning thinkin that I'm dry.” This track has everything from beautiful harmonies to once again full-fledged sentiment. Time Goes Back
plays along the same lines, it is simple yet powerful. John claims, “I’ve flown through a mirror, almost disappearing. I glow faintly, you know this is nobody’s life.”
“Shadows Collide with People” is considered to be one of Frusciante’s most experimental records, which is clear with instrumentals Negative 00 Ghost 27
. These tracks are noisy and a bit irritating, and are potentially the only weak spots of the record. The third instrumental, 23 go in to end
however, is one of those tracks that makes you want to close your eyes and think about your life. The atmosphere is chilled and it feels as though you are floating down a river while listening. This nearly 7-minute piece is absolutely beautiful and undoubtedly an underscore of the record.
Even in the simpler parts of the album such as Second Walk
, Frusciante is brilliant, wailing on his guitar and powerfully unleashing his passion. Whether it’s the skepticism of Ricky
or the sheer optimism of The Slaughter
, “Shadows Collide With People” delivers on all cylinders. It is extremely difficult to convince me that this is not a classic, for it has simply affected more than 99% of other records I have listened to.
Song to Sing When I’m Lonely
Time Goes Back
23 to go in end