Thursday, 26 June 2003

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. 810. Thanks to Phil for the rec­om­men­da­tion.