For those who are reading this review in eager anticipation of a sequel to the Chilis 'Stadium Arcadium' having only recently discovered the aspiring solo career of Mr Frusciante, you should expect to be enlightened otherwise. I'll admit, I - despite being a massive Chilis fan - had been naive and not even known John had a solo career until this album. I was pleasantly surprised.
As with many concept albums, the artist rarely details the exact 'story' behind the tracks; though Frusicante has expressed his desire to portray themes of elevation and birth-to-life-to-death. As an example of this, he has deliberately 'elevated' the key of the tracks throughout the album - with the final track void of all bass and drums and utilising Frusciante's excellent falcetto (high) vocals.
The opening track steadily marches along under a searing guitar solo that seems to shift in an out of existence. For those familiar with Funkadelic's 'Maggot Brain' - this is John's personal tribute to Eddie Hazel's highly charged and thoughtful guitar work.
The album presses on through 'life' - twisting and turning through different emotions and moods. The track 'Dark/Light' is a fantastic example of the shifts in moods expressed over the course of the album - moving from a melancholic piano tune to a blissful vocal serenade, and further into an equally solemn choir section over Flea's very melodic and dark bassline.
John and his accompanient musicians make expressive use of varied classical and electronic instrumentation. 'Heaven' features a very warm guitar tone with electronic organs and later a strings section building to a soulful climax.
Other tracks follow the format of beginning very softly and building into a powerful departing gesture; 'Enough of Me' begins as soft as a lullaby and builds into a spectacular and driving solo with a very thick fuzz effect. 'Central', as well, follows this same format - building to an exceptionally powerful departure, refraining to a catchy and heartfelt vocal hook.
Following 'Central' are the very appropriate closing tracks 'One More of Me' and 'After The Ending' - both reminiscent of previous track 'Song to the Siren'; an instrumentally sparse yet melodic vocal performance that seems to drift the 'character' in the story effectively into 'heaven or beyond', as it were.
Unlike other concept albums, you can very much get away with listening to any track on the album individually and enjoy them all. However, to truly appreciate the tracklisting I highly recommend listening to the album from start to finish in one run through. For those who appreciate well composed, emotionally charged music this should pull many strings for you. I can safely say that - being one myself - guitarists that appreciate John's subtle playing nuances will take alot away from this album as well.