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John Frusciante collides with greatness

Brian Foy | Wednesday, March 3, 2004

Why should we expect mediocrity in the albums we listen to? Why should we buy an album that is only a mere 30 minutes in length? (Cough, Cough The Strokes) Why should we submit to albums where every song sounds that same as the one before it? (Achew Linkin Park) If record labels continue to turn out the same sickening “music,” then we must turn back to the great the artists for the remedies we seek.Two of the well constructed and complete albums of the last five years are the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Californication and By the Way. These albums border on perfection for a myriad of reasons, but the most apparent is the intricate and progressive guitar play of John Frusciante. Frusciante has taken the Red Hot Chili Peppers from a good California band to one of the best bands on the planet with his presence.Frusciante and the rest of the Chili Peppers released their latest album By the Way only two years ago, but somehow Shadows Collide with People goes in new directions the Red Hot Chili Peppers have yet to explore. The album is a far cry from previous efforts by Frusciante and for those looking for Californication “The Remix” or By the Way “Part Deux,” this is not the place to find it.Shadows Collide With People manages to blend John Frusciante’s guitar playing with progressive arrangements and sounds. On the opening track, “Carval,” a synthesizer is used to produce a sound that can only be described as a prehistoric birth. Then from the waters of life, Frusciante’s familiar voice and guitar emerge. Frusciante reveals his angelic voice as it casts a spiritual shadow over the song’s chorus. During the bridge, an eerie, funky bass materializes that runs in and out through the rest of the track. By the end of “Carval,” there are so many intricacies present that they appear as a rolling wall of sound. “Song to Sing When I’m Lonely” shows how well John Frusciante matches his guitar with vocal and musical harmonies. The track’s introduction is composed of a synthesizer that conjures up images of the Victorian Age. This leads to the refreshing vocals and acoustic strumming that Frusciante does so well. Both the vocal and guitar melodies are rather simple on this track, but it is the way that they are used to create the final product that is impressive. The transitions throughout the track showcase Frusciante’s ability as a musician rather than simply a guitarist, while his ability to sing over his guitar playing only reinforces this. Shadows Collide with People showcases John Frusciante’s ability as a gifted musician far more than his previous releases with the Red Hot Chili Peppers. On this record, Frusciante is in control and at the helm of a musical adventure. He mixes familiar guitar playing with innovative musical sounds and arrangements that produce one of the truly great albums of the young year. Shadows Collide with People proves the Red Hot Chili Peppers depend on John Frusciante for more than his ability on the guitar-he is a creative musical genius.

Contact Brian Foy at bfoy@nd.edu