Monday, February 2, 2009

John Frusciante - Life After Red Hot Chilli Peppers

Don’t freak out. He’s still in RHCP, or was last time I checked. This post is about the present and future of this artist.

Many times bands break apart for solo projects. Some succeed (Thom Yorke) and some fail (Rivers Cuomo) to get the same recognition or fame they found in the “band”. John Frusciante continues to do great things for the rock genera in his tenth solo album “The Empyrean.” John started working on his first album fourteen years ago while recording Blood Sugar Sex Magic. John's history has been an intersting one with two stints with the RHCPs and a five year solo carrer inbetween.

On the first listen, with the first track “Before the Beginning”, I listened and put cd away. Without the complete album listen through I put that first song way out of context. It starts with a spooky scattered procession to a heart wrenching guitar ballad. By the end of the song, I thought, okay this is another guitar driven instrumental album. I moved on to other downloads.

When I came back to “The Empyrean” I found the second track, “Seed to the Siren” to be the exact opposite. In just the second song, John moves out from behind the guitar to sing with incredible range and tenderness. This track is almost completely void the guitar that was so prevalent in the previous track. Backed by warm electric and piano tones, his voice is the star here.

With that beginning out of the way, John Frusciante proceeds to bang out ten additional tracks that perfectly blend his unique vocals and guitar style. Such a great idea to play off the idea of him only playing guitar then when you get comfortable, he blows you away with his voice. Some of “The Empyrean” is accompanied by live band while some takes an electronic approach. Many of the songs use processors and digital effects to turn Frusciante's voice into an instrument of sorts. I usually think this is a tool to overcome an artist's vocal short comings (See Kayne West latest album for many, many, many examples).

I hope his lyrics in “Heaven” aren’t prophectic:
“There is a future that is calling, but I don’t see it coming.”
Frusciante’s blend of classic rock roots, electronic production, and new wave song writing has created a sound for the future. I would love to see him get the recognition he is long overdue for this album so we have an opportunity to hear more. I see a bright future for John Frusciante.

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