The Mars Volta

The Mars Volta is an American progressive rock band that shakes you! Some songs lasts near a quarter of hour, tinged with many influences: psychedelic, punk, jazz, African, Latin and others. Some lyrics are in Spanish (the singer is Puerto Rican), the rest in English.

The band was formed in 2001 with two members of the excellent band At The Drive-In, Cedric Bixler-Zavala and Omar Rodríguez-López, and takes over the unbridled energy and love of musical mood swings!
Sometimes they deconstruct the rhythm and melody in a kind of “free-jazz rock” before returning to a powerful and strong punk or soft fallout. Similarly, they do not like the ease of verse/chorus structures, giving a sense of freedom wanders.
Album names and titles also denote this original – even tortured – mind.

Beyond the excellent technic of the musicians, the particular and powerfully emotional voice of Cedric Bixler-Zavala gives an exceptional strength – and sometimes poetry – to their songs.
Over time, musicians join the group for a longer or shorter period, like John Frusciante, guitarist of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Each freely dropping riffs of high quality, the titles go, like a roller coaster, from quiet moments to imports of “world music” (Hispanic, African …) or raging blasts in perfectly built alternations. This is not an unbridled punk but in an appearance of clutter, the building is clean and crisp, served by top-flight musicians.

The album De-loused In The Comatorium, their first LP, is a concept album that tells the story of a man wanting to kill himself, based on the death of a friend of the group. An overdose of morphine and anti-rat dropped him into a coma where he has visions in which he visited the “Comatorium”, at the wake up he will again prefer the death. An article in the impressive work details the meaning of the lyrics of this album on therealmusician.com. This is my favorite album, with a lot of energy mixed with nostalgia, in which we find the title Roulette Dares, at the beginning of this article.

Their second LP also has a narrative, with lyrics in Spanish and English. The story is based on a diary found in a car, owned by an unknown a little mentally ill, adopted and seeking his biological parents. The originality of this album is that Omar Rodríguez-López wrote all the music alone and made record each instrument without the musicians do not know the rest of the arrangements. The album is formed of several pieces, some of which are divided into subsections. Musically it is close to De-loused In The Comatorium.

Death and the excesses of the Rock World are much felt in the lyrics and inspirations of the group. The energy they spend seems to cry to get a solution to these curses, like the album The Bedlam In Goliath, written like an exorcism.
This album was produced with great difficulties, in a period during which the bad luck of the group has been linked to the use of a Ouija board to connect them with a called Goliath. The board, named “The Soothsayer”, produced, at the contrary, many worries. It was broken and buried by Rodriguez-Lopez. That prooves you should never play with the dark forces!

Amputechture does not depart from other albums, questionning humanity and spirituality. The words of Cedric Bixler-Zavala revolve around beliefs and faith. If Vicarious Attonment track made a quiet introduction, the rest develops in crescendos or sudden changes of direction, with choirs or bass guitar enveloping these peregrinations.

The next albums take a more Pop-Rock turn, more clean. A musical quiet feeling is felt through less deconstructed rhythms and melodies, but always on dark themes joining those of other albums: kidnapping (regular in Latin America), metaphors against the mistreatment of women in Islamic societies. Noctourniquet album is based in part on childish songs and mythological references, always with a mystical aura, with more electronic effects than in the previous. The magnificent Asilos Magdalena allow enjoying hispanic acoustic guitars on a delicate and soothing voice.

The Mars Volta, in a recognizable style, supports dark stories with touching musical depth. I invite you to discover and enjoy their special universe and even to listen to At The Drive-in band… and then discover other artists on FETHmusic for more gaiety and lightness 🙂

Other Titles I Like

Empty Vessels Make The Loudest Sound

The Widow

Take The Veil Cerpin Taxt

Albums to discover!

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The Mars Volta
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