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The Mars Volta - Noctourniquet CD (album) cover


The Mars Volta


Heavy Prog

3.54 | 303 ratings

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3 stars "Noctourniquet" is the 6th full-length studio album by US experimental/progressive rock act The Mars Volta. The album was released through Warner Bros. in March 2012. The album was created under a bit of turmoil, as main composer/guitarist Omar Rodriguez- Lopez and lead vocalist/lyricist Cedric Bixler-Zavala had an argument over the creative process. Most of the instrumental parts for the album were already recorded in 2009, shortly after mixing "Octahedron (2009)" but when Omar Rodriguez-Lopez approached Cedric Bixler-Zavala about recording the vocals for the album, the latter demanded a timeout. He simply didn't feel ready or inspired to work on vocals/lyrics for the album at that point. While it didn't exactly suit Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and his busy restless nature (which is well documented in the way he releases several solo albums a year), Cedric Bixler-Zavala was given room and space to breathe. After a couple of years he returned to the studio to record the vocals for the album.

The music on "Noctourniquet" is as always a experimental rock and a new adventurous chapter in the discography of The Mars Volta. Few bands on today's music scene are as adventurous and boundary bending as The Mars Volta. They always set out to create an album that doesn't sound like the last one, and that's admirable IMO. Sometimes they focus a bit too much on experimentation instead of focusing on some of the otherwise beautiful melodies they also write, but when those two elements go hand in hand these guys produce magic. A track like "Lapochka" stands out as an example of that. Examples of the more "frustrating" tracks to my ears are "The Whip Hand" and "In Absentia".

The musicianship is as usual on a very high level. The band are tight and at times virtuosic. Cedric Bixler-Zavala sings varied and with passion. His high pitched singing style is applied to the music in the right doses.

"Noctourniquet" is a bit of a mixed bag to my ears. Too much of the album drown in "over the top" experimental guitar/keyboard layers, odd rythms and memorability and accessibility suffer from it. There are still some beautifully crafted melodies on the album but too often it sounds like the at times abrasive instrumental parts of the music aren't sensible to the more delicate vocal parts. The Mars Volta have always made busy music and that's of course part of their appeal to fans of experimental rock, but I prefer when they are a bit more restrained. Even those moments aren't completely convincing everytime either though. The parts where they strike the right balance still makes "Noctourniquet" an intriguing and enjoyable album though and I'd say a 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved. It's not their best by a long shot though.

UMUR | 3/5 |


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