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Omar Rodriguez-Lopez - Xenophanes CD (album) cover

XENOPHANES

Omar Rodriguez-Lopez

 

Eclectic Prog

3.98 | 54 ratings

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Epignosis
Special Collaborator
Eclectic Prog Team
4 stars This may be a tad premature, given that I have not heard all of this hombre's solo albums, but I'm pretty much comfortable enough saying that this is Omar Rodriguez-Lopez's finest work outside of The Mars Volta. This album is loaded with fresh melodies and engaging compositions; even the tones of the instruments set this album apart from The Mars Volta sound while retaining some element of it. Rodriguez-Lopez has a far less astringent, more soothing voice than Cedric Bixler-Zavala, and it's a real pleasure to hear him take to the microphone- he does a great job in that role. Perhaps my biggest complaint is that the endings to most of the songs consist of abrupt and seemingly random changes. Aside from that, this is a solid album that takes very little time to get into, but takes much more to fully appreciate.

"Azoemia" The first track consists of a variety of noises- sinister (could be described as extraterrestrial) breathing juxtaposed with high-pitched plinking sounds and gushes of wind.

"Mundo De Ciegos" After the bizarre introduction, it's good to hear some actual music, and the band doesn't disappoint, allowing the lead guitar and piano to shine right away. The bass tone is decidedly different from The Mars Volta- instead of a full, heavy tone, the player opts for a sound closer to that trebly punch of classic symphonic progressive rock. The vocal melody is another enjoyable aspect to this song.

"Ojo Al Cristo De Plata" With this much more laidback approach, this piece could have conceivably been a leftover for Octahedron. It adopts a heavier feel during the second half, and one could really hear Rodriguez-Lopez's main band doing this.

"Amanita Virosa" Things heat up with this fast-paced number, loaded with that punchy, gritty bass that can't sit still.

"Sangrando Detrás De Los Ojos" This terse piece is musically one of the highlights of the album, as it uses a stunning chord progression to accommodate Rodriguez-Lopez's tasteful guitar soloing.

"Desarraigo" One riff shared by two guitars panned hard on either side gives way to atmospheric synthesizer and an unbelievably good vocal performance from Mexican singer-songwriter Ximena Sariñana, which in turn becomes a fuller piece. The abrupt ending features soft percussion and lighthearted piano.

"Asco Que Conmueve Los Puntos Erógenos" This energetic piece melds several styles, including hard psychedelic rock, jazz, grunge, and symphonic progressive rock, producing a veritable beast of an eclectic song. A rollicking piano solo over heavy instrumentation consumes much of the middle.

"Oremos" This spacey piece indulges in lots of reverb and fascinating vocal effects.

"Perder El Arte De La Razón Sin Mover Un Sólo Dedo" This track is somewhat disjointed and off-putting, from that opening static to the arrangement itself, which just seems to be all over the place. Initially I was put off but just about everything, but subsequent listens have fortunately dispelled much of the antipathy I held toward this song. The instrumentation during the middle section, however, is still grating and difficult to listen to.

"Flores De Cizaña" While not matching some of the phenomenal pieces that came before it, this one has its own charm, with some funky riffs and good instrumental moments. Again, some of the instrumentation is grating, but not nearly as much as the previous track.

"Maria Celeste" The final track places things back into traditional territory for fans of The Mars Volta, as this piece sounds like something that belonged on Amputechture (although Thomas Pridgen's drumming is furious and unrelenting- no surprise there). Given the recurring themes, the final three tracks should have been one.

Epignosis | 4/5 |

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