Tag Archives: The Mars Volta

Album of weeks 44 & 45: ANTEMASQUE

Sometimes I reckon I should share with you a list of those artists I worship as genius for their creative talent, in order to inspire some sort of discussion, get acquainted with your point of view, and discover other musicians worth following for this reason.

antemasque album

It’s already time to talk about Antemasque, the last project of Omar Rodríguez-López and Cedric Bixler-Zavala. I’ve already written about some of their albums as The Mars Volta and At the Drive-In.

 I started to dig into their stuff a bit late for my taste, so I’ve missed the chances to see both bands in action on stage, even though I could attend Omar’s performance a couple of years ago and I thought it was brilliant even though at that moment I wasn’t so involved in his universe. But this time, and since The Mars Volta got me hooked gradually, I won’t miss any of their movements.

On 9th of April, a couple of tweets announced this new project named Antemasque introduced by a new single, ‘4 AM’. It sounded so straight and fresh, it was impossible not to surrender to the piece. Flea was said to be on payroll, but quickly it was confirmed this was only a collaboration, as he let the bass parts recorded at his studio to be used for the album. Several singles followed and the full album was digitally released in July.

In the time we’re currently living it’s curious the huge demand of a physical format from the fans. We all want to have Antemasque on vinyl or CD. Last month it was confirmed the date of release, set for November 10th, this is, on Monday, for CD, and on the 25th for vinyl. It’s definitely worth the wait.

Omar and Cedric have dumped sound density ballast, delivering ten absolutely fresh and straight 3 minute sounds, very easy to listen and to get hooked to, getting back to basics in terms of song structures, with very simple structures and repeated chorus.

In Antemasque you can find punk with ‘I Got No Remorse’ or ‘In the Lurch’, more power pop oriented tracks as ’50,000 kilowatts’, and some acid drops of their taste for psychedelia on ‘Drown All Your Witches’ y ‘Providence’. It’s the simplicity of the songs what makes it huge.

I’m very glad tensions between these two brains were overcome and left aside, and they started focusing on working together to deliver more interesting stuff. I can’t erase from my head the idea that perhaps these are the people who need a breaking point and a new start from time to time to keep their talent alive and dynamic, and the more time passes and the older I get, the more I believe that all chapters must have a beginning and an end for the individuals can improve and evolve at all levels. At The Drive-In wouldn’t be so great if they had continued, the same as The Mars Volta wouldn’t exist in such case consequently. Thus if nothing lasts forever, it’s ok that there are many chapters which occupy the timeline.

antemasque on stage

Let’s see what this Antemasque chapter surprises us with. I’m optimistic.

ALBUMS OF WEEKS 23 & 24: ECHO / DE-LOUSED IN THE COMATORIUM

It was obvious the soundtrack of the week I was travelling to Dublin to attend Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers’ show, was to be focused on his discography, right? Truth is that I didn’t chose Full Moon Fever or Into the Great Wide Open, and got hooked to my favorite, and the forgotten one: Echo.

You know how this goes, these artists who put so much of their life experiences into their albums, many times through their music, they develop a kind of relief therapy, and once overcome, they’d wish it had never seen the public light.

Echo is my favorite album of Petty’s. For many years I thought it was The Last DJ, but not so long time ago I came to the conclusion it was its predecessor I liked the most.

Echo core of songs were written when Petty was going through his divorce, apparently quite dramatic, and in general the tone is quite low, and some songs imply some kind of painful stuff. Think of Won’t Last Long, Echo or Lonesome Sundown, for instance.

There’s an anthem for me, a song which gives me goose bumps, from its earliest chords and the harps, to the lyrics, the sort of lethargic way Petty sings, and the powerful chorus, is no doubt, Swingin’. The story of a girl, getting away from her private Hell, who prefers to endure pain and suffering, and rough times, rather than stick to her old life. Like I read once somewhere, it’s an ode to the fighters of the world, quite inspiring I have to say, and the song, damn! It’s a blast!

It’s a pity Mr Petty decided not to perform  any of these wonderful 15 songs live on stage anymore, because they’re awesome, but as fans we are, guess we have to respect his will. A couple of years ago I learned to separate certain albums and songs from personal experiences and feelings, mostly related to someone I used to love, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to listen to much music I adore, but in the case of Petty, if you are involved in the writing and the developing of those songs, it must be tough to isolate those memories, I guess.

Still, it was not necessary for Petty to recover songs from Echo to make us enjoy one of the best times in our lives, so… this is forgiven, cowboy!

After the past weeks At The Drive-In overdose, and because The Mars Volta were about to perform at Azkena Rock Festival, I felt the need to dive into their stuff once and for all. What I had previously listened was ok, but don’t ask me what it was, because it wasn’t under my will nor command, but other’s, thus it happened as it was the usual way to happen, I had listened to perhaps 2 or even 3 albums of this band, but didn’t have a clue of which ones.

I had asked for a starting point reference to somebody very into their stuff, and he had advised me to start with De-Loused in the Comatorium, Octahedron and Frances the Mute. My mistake was to start with Amputechture as I had heard lots of it and the cover of the album was, or better said, is, inexplicably attractive to me. Sorry to say, this first approach was too Martian (ha! Sometimes I amuse myself with such witty remarks), so I followed the initial advice and went straight to De-Loused.

Again, I was standing in front of something devastating and overwhelming, not easy to assume at the very first listening. Too much sound excess, chaos, rhythms, changes, passages, epic moments, styles… For me, the concept of The Mars Volta is like The Tower of Babel, after suffering God’s rage, sowing the confusion of languages, this is, giving birth to cultural and multilingual chaos.

How can you define a band like this, which plays with jazz, rock, progressive, latin sounds, hardcore…? It’s simply impossible. The brains of the band, Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, and Cedric Bixler-Zavala, had already left a print in the history of contemporary music with At The Drive-In, but this time the guys from El Paso, wanted to turn the screw even further, developing a conceptual album based on the tale of Cerpin Taxt, also referring to a acquainted local artist, Julio Venegas, who had passed away after  OD’n on morphine and rat poison (!!!). No need to say there’ve been many more turns of the screw I’m right now trying to experiment and assimilate. I don’t mention the word comprehend, because I think it will take me long time.

Having realized that I had already heard this album, I have to admit De-Loused in the Comatorium is one of the most shocking experiences I’ve lived later together with Spiderland. It’s fascinated me in a way close to the moment I discovered Tool’s Aenima in 1996, with Toi more experienced both in musical and life terms, yet sharing that open mouth gesture in amusement. I love such state of shock when it’s positive and enjoyable, and yes, after all, I reckon this album is a blast. I finally spent listening to it nonstop last week, getting acquainted to the strange sounds I was to listen from now onwards, as I’ve decided I will go on with my investigation on The Mars Volta.

While listening to the album I was wondering which is the song I like most, and I can’t tell, because all of them, are so extent and contain so many different parts, the more I listen, the more I enjoy different fragments of this crazy acid trip.

Let’s try with Drunkship of Lanterns

If you’ve dared to see the video I’ve posted I hope you don’t feel like killing me. Can you imagine the hours these guys have to rehearse for THAT? As an anecdote, 5-6 years ago I heard of a drummer who quit the band because the two afro Volta boys thought 8-hours rehearsal a day weren’t enough. Can you dig the level we’re talking about? These are the real 24/7 workaholic musicians we’ve ever been wondering of their existence. In-fuckin’-sane!

ALBUM AND EP OF WEEK 17: RELATIONSHIP OF COMMAND / A STICH IN TIME

The absence of serious obligations and responsibilities coming from a higher hierarchic level has brought  some sort of chaos to my life lately. Calendar is essential for the kind of tasks I usually perform, related to logistics. Forecasts, procedures and operations are arranged based on Estimated times of departures and arrivals, and few hours delay can cause much trouble.

Well, I don’t have such pressure right now, as I haven’t been working for a month already. I’d like to give otherwise news, but it’s not the case, so, we’ll keep on searching.

The relevance of the calendar has lost priority in my life, even since I got inked a couple of weeks ago, not carrying my wrist watch has also added to my time related chaos. Thus, I was reviewing my last posts and have noticed I hadn’t written about the album of the week for long time, and had to pick my organizer to check how many weeks I gotta update. Two, by the way, so be patient because I had to update once again to reach the current week 19, and music posts will be more present.

This been remarked, let’s hit the two albums, because I’m listening to lots of music lately, which caught my attention and interest the most.

At The Drive-In is one of these bands  which deserve my complete respect although I must admit, I’ve never dug into their discography the way they deserve up to date. It’s like I listen to some of their songs and think they’re terrific, but haven’t moved forward. Never too late, it’s said, I’m fixing this mistake lately, and will soon focus on something huge that I think I’m really missing, The Mars Volta.

It’s funny because I actually saw them on the streets in Camden lying on a wall, before I came back to Spain in 2000. How do I know? I had seen their pictures published in Kerrang Magazine several times, and even though Camden is full of eccentric characters, Goths, punks, rockers…those afros were unmistakable. If eye contact counts on my behalf, that was an encounter with At The Drive-In worth including in my memoires, Toi n’ The Stars. Yes, we looked at each other enough as to notice we were observing. I was wearing some remarkable t-shirt I cannot recall enough as to pay attention, and  I stared at their afros, having a laugh remembering my unfortunate perm which turned out to become an afro at age 13. I should have told them something, but since I hadn’t listened to their stuff,  focused on different business, didn’t consider it much appropriate, thus I kept walking.

Later I found out, this happened few months before their last album, Relationship of Command, my personal starter into the afro guys’ universe, was released.

And what has made me get hooked to this album? Many features could me listed, but all of them can be summed up into one adjective: POWERFUL.

Relationship of Command is an explosion, and consequently a release, of restrained aggressiveness. Controlled freaky mayhem, combining, intense melodies with insane vocals, symbolic lyrics, and complex patterns and structures of songs.

The experience of listening to this album is so intense and overwhelming, after 13 songs split into 40 minutes, I end up exhausted for real.

I’m particularly enjoying listening to music at nights through my headphones, and this album features so many arrangements and details, it is very shocking.

Let me show you a clear example, with Enfilade. Thrilling and devastating. No need to say anything else.

A Stich in Time is the second EP of The Twilight Singers, Greg Dulli’s main project for the past decade.

It had been many years since the last time I listened to this treasure, mainly because the copy which used to be at my former home, wasn’t mine, as usual. I had forgotten of its existence till few days before Mark Lanegan’s live show in Barcelona, when Live With Me, the amazing Massive Attack cover opening A Stich In Time, came back to my mind.

The collaboration among these two unique and charismatic characters is perfect. The result of the  combination of such different styles and personalities is simply thrilling.

This EP also features Mark Lanegan in Flashback, very very Afghan Whigs style, despite it belongs to Fat Freddys Drop. I had a crush on this one, especially for the lyrics.

There’s something natural in the way you touch me

There’s a feeling that I can’t explain

There’s something mystic  in the soul connection

There’s something magic in your misty eyes

Perhaps you think there’s nothing special in them, but the final result is very elegant and classy, and I find this song loaded with a great deal of sensuality.

The other three songs are fantastic too, worth remarking They Ride, but I have to be honest and admit the great value of this EP is the presence of Lanegan and, as explained, the combination of the two vocalists.

As I said half joking few days ago, and feeling very excited about the upcoming visit of The Afghan Whigs at the end of this month, I’m Dullied, or Dullized lately 🙂