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The Mars Volta - Tremulant EP CD (album) cover


The Mars Volta


Heavy Prog

3.25 | 109 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars And so it begins. AT THE DRIVE-IN morphs into THE MARS VOLTA, a new vehicle for CEDRIC and OMAR to experiment with.

'Tremulant' is an EP of three songs, so a three-star rating ought to be seen in that context: 'Tremulant' costs less, and delivers less, than a regular album. The sound here is transitional between the frenetic post-hardcore ravings of AT THE DRIVE-IN and the full-on progressive rock of later THE MARS VOLTA offerings. The first track in particular ('Cut That City') sounds as much like their former group as their new one, and suffers a little because of it. 'Concertina', however, is an excellent track, with the vocal and instrumental gymnastics coupled with slamming staccato syncopations so much a THE MARS VOLTA trademark. At eight minutes, 'Eunuch Provocateur' gives the band the space they need to construct an archetypal VOLTA soundscape, albeit embryonic. Opening with a thunderous rhythm, the track demonstrates an oddly loose, yet somehow satisfying, association of ideas. Segues here are non-existent: the track bursts from idea to idea, from polyrhythm to enormous riff to electronic mash-up. Disturbingly, nothing really makes any sense, and it is with this facet of THE MARS VOLTA that many people struggle. The tracks seldom return to their starting point, and often finish up sounding quite different to how they start, as evidenced by 'Eunuch Provocateur'. Of course, don't try to squeeze meaning out of the lyrics, even if you can decipher them. CEDRIC'S voice is another colour on the sonic palette, not a dispenser of platitudes. If you like your prog neat and tidy, THE MARS VOLTA is not for you.

I don't really know why CEDRIC and OMAR decided to make music like this. They might have gone on to do something far more commercially rewarding. But I'm so grateful they decided to pursue their passion and produce majestic (and, it must be acknowledged, hit-and-miss) progressive rock.

By no means should you start your THE MARS VOLTA listening experience here. Go grab 'De-loused in the Comatorium'. I hope you fall in love with this high- energy band that, along with a few contemporaries, is helping enlarge our definition of progressive.

russellk | 3/5 |


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