ALBUM REVIEW: “The Empyrean” by John Frusciante

Arts & Events

By Connor May

John Frusciante, the former guitarist for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, is a well accomplished musician in many respects. He joined the Red Hot Chili Peppers when he was only 18 years old and worked on their first album to ever sell over 500,000 copies in the U.S.: “Mother’s Milk.” A few years later, in 1991, he along with other members of the band, produced what was the Red Hot Chili Pepper’s ultimate claim to fame:

“Blood, Sugar, Sex, Magik.” “Blood, Sugar, Sex, Magik” skyrocketed in the charts of the 1990s, with songs like “Under the Bridge,” “Give It Away,” and “Suck My Kiss.” The band had now found true world-wide popularity. Some may say that this was largely due to the addition of John Frusciante on guitar.

However, the limelight was not what Frusciante wanted at all. He hated the fame, the crowds, the enormous concerts, etc. In 1992 on tour in Japan, Frusciante up and quit for several years. Throughout these years, from the early to mid 2000s, Frusciante started producing a lot of solo work, and once the recording of “Stadium Arcadium” had finished, he decided to leave to bad for good.

In some respects, after his time away from the Red Hot Chili Peppers and time spent experimenting with new music, Frusciante became musically reborn. This renaissance is seen ever so beautifully in his album “The Empyrean.” This album encapsulates some of John Frusciante’s best work, with songs like “Before the Beginning,” a cover of Tim Buckley’s “Song to the Siren,” and “Dark/Light.” Something truly breathtaking happens when you put on a set of headphones and drown yourself in this album. If you are looking for a psychedelic “Maggot Brain”-esque musical journey, take a listen to “Before the Beginning.”

If you want to get lost in utter beauty, make sure the volume is high and the headphones work well, and then listen to “Unreachable.” The song “Heaven” teeters on the verge of delicacy and death. Frusciante draws you in endlessly and plays with some beautiful concepts, after all the album is titled “The Empyrean,” which means deriving from heaven.

Overall, this album is a psychedelic, alternative masterpiece. If you love the guitar, “The Empyrean” is home to some of the enchanting guitar licks Frusciante has created so far.

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