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John Frusciante - The Empyrean
It was the year 1989 when John Frusciante joined the now world-famous Red Hot Chili Peppers as their guitarist. “Freaky Frusciante” played in the band for about three years, before falling into a severe depression. He became addicted to heroine and cocaine and lived an unhealthy life which almost killed him. After years of living a lonely life, he decided to go into rehab before joining his old band mates in 1998. He brought (back the) success to the band with the albums Californication, By The Way and Stadium Arcadium.

Frusciante has always been releasing solo albums throughout his musical career. He’s now back with already his tenth solo effort. The Empyrean is a concept album, which required a lot of thinking. Both musically and lyrically, the album tells a story about two personalities that live in the mind of one person throughout his life. It took Frusciante almost a year and a half to record it.

Opener ‘Before The Beginning’ immediately shows that Frusciante does not exactly shy away from the experimental approach towards music. It’s obvious The Empyrean has become nothing like a Peppers-album. Where he normally plays very tight, he now loosened up things quite a bit. It’s therefore no surprise you can hear lots of different instruments on this album during this 55-minute psychedelic trip. Frusciante uses synths, keyboard effects, a Hammond organ and even a drum computer. It makes for a perfect harmony between the melodic intermezzos and the rock orientated outbursts.

On this predominantly instrumental album, you don’t get to hear a lot of vocals. And to be honest, that’s fine with me, since the album just doesn’t need it. Then again, a song like ‘God’, which also features Peppers-bassist Flea, shows the true rocker in Frusciante. The song is a welcome change between the mainly psychedelic songs. Still, it never ruins the balance on The Empyrean.

It is in ‘Dark/Light’ that you hear the drum computer for the first time. It creates a beat that’s not really similar to the rest of the work on the album and I can imagine some people won’t dig the song that much because of that. After all the relaxing, psychedelic work, I can imagine one feels a bit disturbed when coming across ‘Dark/Light’. To me personally, it’s again a very nice song!

In the end I come to the conclusion that Frusciante created a very nice experimental and psychedelic rock album with The Empyrean. Don’t expect shrieking guitars and up-tempo songs, just music to relax by. The kind that triggers the life philosopher in everyone.
John Frusciante - The Empyrean
78/1001Details Record Collection/EMI
Released on Tuesday Jan 20th, 2009
Experimental/Psychedelic Rock

Writer @Boek on Monday Feb 2nd, 2009

Tags: #John Frusciante
Tracklisting 01. Before the Beginning
02. Song to the Siren
03. Unreachable
04. God
05. Dark/Light
06. Heaven
07. Enough of Me
08. Central
09. One More of Me
10. After the Ending
Line up John Frusciante - vocals, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, keyboards, piano, bass, synthesizers, drum machine
Josh Klinghoffer - electric piano, drums, organ, piano, synthesizers, backing vocal
Flea - bass on ‘Unreachable’, ‘God’, ‘Heaven’, ‘Enough of Me’, ‘Today’, and ‘Ah Yom’
Johnny Marr - electric guitar on "Enough of Me" and acoustic guitar on "Central"
Donald Taylor and the New Dimension Singers - backing vocals
Sonus Quartet - strings