The Mars Volta - Octahedron
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The opening track, ‘Since We’ve Been Wrong’ has a standard long intro, vocals circa Rush, gentle electric guitar solo, but where’s the rock? Well you don’t have to wait long as ‘Telfon’ is heavy on the drums and we’re off on the usual The Mars Volta’s particular take on modern prog rock.
Fronted by vocalist Cedric Bixler Zavala and all round multi-talented and prolific Omar Rodriguez Lopez; he of Old Money that came on Stones Throw earlier in the year and he’s also worked with Lydia Lunch who’s gone her own mini-album out this month, Big Sexy Noise. With the rest of the band made up from long term collaborators Isaiah Ikey Owens, John Anthony Frusciante (Red Hot Chili Peppers), Juan Alderete De La Peña, Marcel Rodriguez Lopez and Thomas Pridgen.
Whilst I’m a big fan of last years’ The Bedlam In Goliath and the Nobody remixes, lets be honest; they check some Spinal Tap type elements; notably song titles that are in GCSE science/English literature study books (the version for geek sci-fi media studies - check the 6th form artwork of the cover) and some lyrics of a poetic Placebo nature. None so more obvious than on ‘Halo Of Nemnutals’ (yeah, Microsoft Word’s spell check doesn’t recognise it as a word in the dictionary either). I was going to check out what it meant but what the point, the track rocks and after all, that’s what the The Mars Volta do best; especially when they squeeze in a bit of avantgarde jazzness in.
On ‘With Twilight As My Guide’ they go almost alt.country on slide/warped guitar. These guys are no Hank Wangford and the Lost Cowboys but more like a prog-Gram Parsons.
I didn’t like this album the first few times around but at times it’s far too close to the spirit (if not the sound) of Grateful Dead for most teenagers? That is excepting the mosh pit of ‘Cotopaxi’ and the EMO-hardcore of (ironically), ‘Desperate Graves’. And is ‘Copernicus’ a love song?
For all the ‘seriousness’ of their albums, you do wonder if they’re having a laugh at our expense as they tour the world. And as someone who is as jealous as Telfon, why not? These lot are unique (as far as I know), although Galahad may think otherwise and lets leave it to the old men, like Neil Young, to do the serious rockin’ in the free world.
If your not sure, suggest that by the time they get to the closing track, ‘Luciforms’ they get al the elements of the previous seven tracks into this one making it the antithesis of Octahedron; but pray tell me, what’s a luciforms?
Hectic Mix nominations: ‘Luciforms’, ‘Halo Of Nemnutals’, ‘With Twilight As My Guide’.
July Tour Dates:
Reviewed: The Mars Volta - Octahedron (Warner Bros. Records) Cat. No. 519384-2 Release date: 23rd June 2009
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