The Mars Volta

Posted Sunday, January 25, 2015 - 5:11pm by Gabriel Riccio

I had the pleasure of being introduced to The Mercury Tree at Progtoberfest this past year. This Portland band was easily one of the most interesting and modern sounding bands on the bill. They are far from being just another prog band, as they incorporate influences from math rock, jazz, alternative rock, and more. All of this is evident on their latest record, Countenance, which displays an enormous stylistic range (and a huge progression from their previous records). If you're a fan of bands like The Mars Volta, Tera Melos, Tool, and King Crimson, then give this record a listen.

Category: Album Reviews

Tags: The Mercury Tree, Countenance, Progtoberfest, progressive rock, math rock, Portland, Tool, King Crimson, The Mars Volta, Tera Melos
Posted Monday, December 29, 2014 - 1:46pm by Gabriel Riccio

Zorbas Crisol's debut EP, Criollo, is somewhat reminiscent of a mostly instrumental version of Mr. Bungle's debut album, but it doesn't feel the slightest bit derivative. The song structures are highly unpredictable but never random or directionless. For example, the first song begins sounding very reminiscent of The Mars Volta - if you had told me that Omar Rodriguez-Lopez played guitar in the first half of this song, I wouldn't have been surprised, and the similarities are cemented by prominent saxophones, soloistic bass playing and some very cool odd time grooves. Much of it feels very off kilter, which adds to the excitement.

Category: Album Reviews

Tags: Zorbas Crisol, Santiago, Chile, prog-jazz, The Mars Volta, Mr. Bungle
Posted Wednesday, November 19, 2014 - 10:56am by Gabriel Riccio

Antemasque feels like a conscious attempt to escape all of that and return to the duo’s post hardcore roots (albeit with some added New Wave influences). The album is very brief - 10 songs clocking in at under 35 minutes total, with only one song breaking the four minute mark. Gone are the horn sections, string orchestras and extensive overdubs of The Mars Volta’s studio records - the arrangements on Antemasque are stripped down to the basics, featuring only vocals, guitar, bass, drums, and the occasional synthesizer. Listening to Antemasque, I get the sense that this was a very spontaneous record. After leaving The Mars Volta, Rodriguez-Lopez frequently publicly reflected on how he was far too much of a dictator in that band, which prevented it from being fun for anyone involved. While I have no idea whether or not the band is actually having fun on this album, it certainly feels like they’re trying to, perhaps in order to ease back into working together with a project that’s a little more democratic and less demanding. 

Category: Album Reviews

Tags: Cedric Bixler-Zavala, Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, Deantoni Parks, Flea, Marcel Rodriguez-Lopez, Antemasque, The Mars Volta, At the Drive-In, De Facto
Posted Thursday, November 13, 2014 - 9:47am by Gabriel Riccio

Structure is one of the most difficult things for progressive rock bands to get right. How do you make a long, complicated song and have it all flow and cohere? Even many popular prog bands struggle with this, so I thought it would be fun to do a series on the different kind of structures used in prog and how to make each of them work.

Category: Musicians Corner

Tags: The Mars Volta, Frances the Mute, Structure, progressive rock, prog, music theory
Posted Tuesday, April 8, 2014 - 10:06pm by Gabriel Riccio

Cedric Bixler-Zavala and Omar Rodriguez-Lopez (previously of At the Drive-In and The Mars Volta) have put aside their differences and reunited in a new group called Antemasque, which also features bassist Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers) and drummer Dave Elitch (The Mars Volta, Killer Be Killed). You can listen to the band's first single below:

Category:

Tags: Antemasque, The Mars Volta, At the Drive-In, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Killer Be Killed, Cedric Bixler-Zavala, Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, Flea, Dave Elitch

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