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The Mars Volta - Tremulant EP CD (album) cover


The Mars Volta


Heavy Prog

3.25 | 107 ratings

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3 stars Just under 20 minutes, this first THE MARS VOLTA release gives an idea of what is about to follow in the next studio recordings. TREMULANT is the title of the band's first EP which finds the band in a relatively experimental mood, however, not as experimental as the following two studio albums. I do not know if this was the release that drew the attention of the prog audience, but it is definitely an attractive set of progressive music in every sense.

TREMULANT includes only three compositions, with the first two lasting for approximately 5 minutes each and the last one having a relatively longer running time of 9 minutes. From the overall 19-20 minutes of the EP, the first 2 and the last 3 comprise of a sound-effect-based intro and a trip-hop outro respectively, with the second one being apparently much more interesting. Cut that City is based on a dynamic, odd-time signature main theme and distorted vocals which become mellower in the refrain along with the rest of the instruments. A number of musical genres are mixed to produce this track, ranging from 70's prog and eclectic to modern fusion, krautrock and avant-garde. A range of instruments and sounds come together and blend nicely with a set of diverse singing patterns and all that happens within 3:44 (as the first two minutes belong to the intro...)!

Concertina flows in a slower tempo and more melodic forms with vocals sung in a passionate way, including some Spanish lines (if I am correct...). The track starts evolving from the 3rd minute onwards with a-la King Crimson tunes and eclectic ''hammondish'' sounds but virtually never picks up any real speed. Eunuch Provocateur shows again the qualities of the opening track with a very adventurous ''funky'' main theme, based heavily on virtuosic drum playing and bizarre riffs from guitars that seem to improvise constantly. Modern fusion again is the main genre that comes to mind with several 70's touches and the odd, but unique in a way, vocals of Bixler.

Despite its short duration, this EP represents a big challenge for reviewing and several spins are required to form a rounded opinion due to the mix of lots of diverse musical elements and the uniqueness of the style this band has adopted and/or created. A dedicated fan would find most of the trademark TMV characteristics here and a good set of excellent ideas and phrases which, however, do not sound complete, seeming to be at their infancy and of need of some ''push'' and a further development. Nevertheless, TREMULANT is a very attractive small ''starter'' before the two studio albums that established TMV in the prog scene and can be enjoyed with no reservations.

aapatsos | 3/5 |


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