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Hidden Gems: John Frusciante – The Empyrean

Written by Music

If you’ve been reading a lot of my Courier articles, if there are people out there that do, you’ll know that I’ve always had an affinity for the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
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They’re a band that has such a talented lineup, with a backlog of bangers for days. Very few bands can boast that they have ‘one of the best’ musicians in their arsenal, but the RHCP have three. You’ve got Flea, with his energetic and powerful bass. Chad Smith, one of the most naturally gifted drummers on the planet. But, in my opinion, the Chilli’s are defined by their guitarist: John Frusciante.

One of the fantastic things about Frusciante would be that his discography isn’t limited to his work with the Chilli’s. He has an avid solo career, in which he’s been producing music, through both the tough times and the good, for his major cult following. Anyone lucky enough to have dived deep into his works will know that one album in particular, The Empyrean, is one of his best efforts to date.

His eighth solo album, which was released in 2009, harbours an experimental sound, and boasts collaborations with acts such as Johnny Marr and band-member Flea. John takes the listener on a journey. In his words: “it tells a single story both lyrically and musically”. 

The main character goes through extreme loneliness in ‘Song To The Siren’, and at times thinks he can merge with this force upon dying. In ‘Central’, a kind of suicide takes place which results in a rebirth in songs ‘One More Of Me’ and ‘After The Ending’. He finds himself with wonderment in regards to life 

John Frusciante

The lengthy and progressive nature of these songs really do create an ‘out-of-body’ experience for listeners. It’s one of the first albums that I listened to in its entirety, completely mesmerised by the uneven tones and mystery blessing my eardrums.

John Frusciante has always boasted a pedal board full of intriguing and challenging sound effects, so you can only imagine the diverse masterpiece that comes when given the time to plan out his musical arrangements. Whilst his clear improvised style, which comes with any RHCP live show, is present, he’s methodically structured each song to perfection.

For those of you not already persuaded, I recommend you check out my personal favourite track on the album: Enough Of Me.


His raw and echoing vocals, accompanied with a light melodic backing, makes for an ethereal work-of-art. His solo endeavours really are the perfect canvas for him to express himself, catalysing his skills into a masterpiece. The lyrics. The emphatic vocals. That solo. For me, this song has it all.

This album, for me, has everything which makes me love Frusciante, and I hope that after listening to it, you will too.

Last modified: 24th June 2020

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