Deloused in the Comatorium [DITC], the new semantic experience from The Mars Volta. Read my pompous review, but first go buy the album.
When At the Drive In split a while back, my friend Kyle was pretty miffed, they were one of his favorite bands. From the splinters of this band emerged two new musical directions: Sparta and The Mars Volta. Unfortunately Sparta seemed to get their act together a bit too fast, and instead of a new musical direction, the band’s sound foundered in the seas of mediocrity [at least for me it did]. Their brand of rockin’ was a bit too, um, unoriginal and cooki-cutter for my tastes. In fact, I couldn’t tell you what one of their songs sounded like right now, despite having seen them in concert, and listened to their album, and I must not forget pal Kyle.
The Mars Volta, took considerably longer to produce a full album. Wisely so, if this delay has increased the quality of DITC. Granted, they released the Tremulant EP awhile back, but its three songs, seem to me more of a test bed for their sound, before the full blown experience emerges [and getes paid for].
Tremulant prepared listeners for the inventive semantic mumbo-jumbo and experimental punk [redundant or just that marginal?] sound that The Mars Volta had defined as their own. Their lyrics are shall I say, inchoate. An admixture of various languages [english then spanish are the heaviest thankfully] and spackled together phonemes and morphemes, listeners pretty much have to rely on the singing to get a handle for what the songs are about. The lyrics for Eunuch Provocateur off of Tremulant can be found here. [As you will note, one of the lines from this song became the title of the LP].
Stupidly, the lyrics for DITC are going to be available for mailorder purchase sometime next month, making them that much harder to access. You really have to want to know what the fuck he is saying if you are willing to pay for it. Personally, I will wait till someone does buy them and then sticks them on the ‘net.
The vocal pirouttes of Cedric Zavala are what make this album for me. His tenor is crisp and clear and loud, but thankfully not piercing. Its like wind off of a mountain, or if you live in the city, what your clothes smell like after you toss in about eight dryer sheets with them.
Omar Rodriguez-Lopez can wring some mighty wild sounds out of his axe let me tell you.
DITC begins with a steadily growing sound of synthesizer and distortion, and then Cedric comes in with his electronicized voice, and you know something huge is about to happen, then you are teased with some false starts before C really lets it rip into the first true song ‘inertiatic esp.’ This seems pretty straightforward The Mars Volta, the music is segmented into several modes, usually with quick but full stops before launching into the next section. Beware though, The Mars Volta can switch gears seamlessly if they want to, and sometimes they want to.
‘roulette dares (the haunt of)’ presents a slightly more melodically variant, though smoother, explication of whatever the hell C is singing, it rises and valleys, then peaks and then falls again, sometimes precipices lurk right in the middle of things, but the song is quite mellow and quite cathartic at the same time.
‘drunkship of lanterns’ borrows its end from their Tremulant finisher ‘Eunuch Provocateur,’ and ‘cicitriz esp’ is almost just like Tremulant’s ‘Cut That City’ except quite a bit longer. I don’t feel that they are just recycling this because they cannot hack it. To me it seems that Tremulant truly was a testing bed, and they took what worked from that EP and beefed it up for this album.
This was really hard to write, because DITC is so queer. Somehow The Mars Volta has made it possible for two objects to exist in the same space at the same time, contrary to the little musical physics I am acquainted with. Songs can be mellow but unrepentantly cathartic from one second to the next. It works. 8/10. Thanks to Phil for the recommendation.