John Frusciante
The Empyrean


4.0
excellent

Review

by Mike Allen USER (107 Reviews)
December 17th, 2009 | 16 replies


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: For an hour, Frusciante takes the listener on his life's journey.

To put in plain and simply; John Frusciante is one of a kind. Added to the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ roster for the release of “Mother’s Milk,” Frusciante brought his creative and innovative guitar playing to an already talented band, and would ultimately be a major facilitator of the band’s success. We did not really discover who Frusciante really was however, until his solo work was released. John is one of those rare types whose combination of sheer passion and dazzling songwriting is evident in every single one of his releases. Both “Shadows Collide With People” and “Curtains” directly reflect this, for they are Frusciante’s most critically acclaimed records. With his Chili Peppers work aside, John has the capacity to experiment with strange watery effects, hip-hop beats, and auto tune vocal effects to propel this innovative style of his. Frusciante’s 2009 work “The Empyrean” is his most ambitious and experimental album to date, for its inspiration and spirituality is merely brilliant.

Musically, “The Empyrean” is nothing short of magnificent; its instrumentation delicately and intricately developed, and the atmosphere giving the listener somewhat of another dimension sensation. The record is truly an interesting journey, for John is at the peak of his innovation. In “The Empyrean” alone the listener is presented with vocal distortion and other strange effects, that overall accentuate the record with great precision. Dark/Light is virtually a literal representation of this, for the track transitions from a harrowing piano and vocal performance to choir singers and a hip-hop beat. These factors alone provide the song with a fitting and uplifting end. John’s guitar playing on the record is some of the best he’s ever done, bending and wailing his way through the instrumental opener Before the Beginning and presenting an unusual yet brilliant guitar solo in Unreachable.

What is noticeably different of “The Empyrean” than Frusicante’s previous works, is that the time was taken to expand his concepts. Between 2004 and 2005, John cranked out six different releases, EPs and full length records included. Although some of his best solo work was produced at the time, none of these albums developed a concept that even compares to “The Empyrean.” This record in particular is a collection of Frusciante’s thoughts on fame, spirituality, drug abuse, and his music career. Such a concept could not have been created had Frusciante not gone through a horrific heroine-driven depression in the mid-1990’s. What this indicates more than anything, is that John truly does believe and is inspired with his music. Overall the concepts of “The Empyrean” may be interpreted in several different ways, but is nearly an hour long account of Frusciante’s life.

More than any other track on the record, Unreachable proves to be “The Empyrean’s” most intriguing and sensational piece, fueled by Frusciante’s pure passionate vocals and Flea’s grooving bassline. Unreachable is also equipped with powerful lyrics, “I've run out again this, the one on my side, for we to disappear well I know I've tried, you know we've tried, you know we've tried. Hey, shoot me.” Not unlike the rest of his records, the emotion does not seem to have been eased from the violin fueled darkness of One More of Me to the moving lyricism of After the Ending. “There is nothing after the ending, everything is eternal, nothingness does not exist.” With “The Empyrean” John Frusciante has reached one of the most intriguing and essential points in his illustrious music career, but at the same time does not live up to some of his previous work. For what its worth, "The Empyrean" seems to have somewhat fallen into the progressive trap of being a bit too ambitious for its own good. While the majority of Frusciante's earlier works featured mostly great guitar playing and tremendous songwriting, "The Empyrean" is something more, which in this case hinders the record from being any better than excellent. It should be very interesting to see where this record takes Frusciante’s future albums, and for the time being he produced one of 2009’s greatest records.

Recommended Tracks:
Before the Beginning
Unreachable
Enough of Me
Central
One More of Me



Recent reviews by this author
The State Lottery When the Night ComesThe Wrens The Meadowlands
Bruce Springsteen The PromiseRVIVR RVIVR
Iron Chic Not Like ThisFake Problems Real Ghosts Caught on Tape
user ratings (490)
Chart.
4.1
excellent
other reviews of this album
1 of

Comments:Add a Comment 
EVedder27
December 17th 2009


6088 Comments


Really wanted to analyze the albums concepts in depth, but had a hard time coming up with exactly what the tracks represent.

PuddlesPuddles
December 17th 2009


4787 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

J Frusc mania on Sputnik

And I'm loving it.

-Reading

EDIT: Yup, fantastic review just as suspected.

Only thing I would say is talk a little bit more why this is a 4 and not higher. You say he doesn't
live up to his past ultimately, but how?

EVedder27
December 17th 2009


6088 Comments


Thanks, and you may be right about that. I suppose I'll throw in a few more sentences.

Nagrarok
December 17th 2009


8316 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

In “The Empyrean” alone the listener is presented with vocal distortion and other strange effects, that overall accentuate the record with great precision.


One of the things the makes it so interesting imo. I agree with every single letter in this review. If only you had mentioned how great Frusciante uses his voice despite it not being even that impressive. He does some some very good high AND some very good, much lower notes, and he pulls it all off. Oh, and you should have rec'd Dark/Light.

I've been playing this a lot lately, so hence the more critical comment, haha. A pos well deserved. Didn't expect you to do this one as well.

Nagrarok
December 17th 2009


8316 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Oh, and it actually reads more like a 4.5 as well. And it should get one.

hydeyomoney
December 17th 2009


934 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Dark/Light is so awesome. I just love playing that ending on my bass.

EVedder27
December 17th 2009


6088 Comments


Thank you everyone for the comments and pos's, I added a few sentences to prove the 4 rating.

Nagrarok
December 17th 2009


8316 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

That looks better indeed. Still no mention of the versatile vocal work though... please?

EVedder27
December 17th 2009


6088 Comments


haha. It is definitely one of his defining characteristics, but I did mention it in my Shadows Collide With People review. This will not be my last Frusciante review, and I will be sure to have it in there.

Nagrarok
December 17th 2009


8316 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

You been taking over my reviewing habits?

EVedder27
December 17th 2009


6088 Comments


Guess so. Although if you are expecting a Frusciante discog it may not happen for a while. I am going to review A Sphere In the Heart of Silence which does not have one yet.

JWT155
December 17th 2009


9359 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Great review of a great album - pos.

EVedder27
December 17th 2009


6088 Comments


thanks man

Jethro42
December 17th 2009


12650 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Out of those I know (''The Will to Death'', ''Shadows Collide'' and ''Inside Of Emptiness'') this is by far my favorite.

Excellent review as usual Vedder. Pos'd

EVedder27
December 17th 2009


6088 Comments


thanks Jethro

Skimaskcheck
December 18th 2009


2362 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great review, as ever man! Pos'd of course.

Before the Beginning is one of my favourite songs ever.



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2014 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy