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Omar Rodriguez-Lopez

Eclectic Prog

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3 stars The Mars Volta can jam. No doubt about it. Why not get the band together and record a few jams? Omar thinks it's a good idea. It's not a bad idea, but a good idea?'s all right, I guess.

So Omar's 2/3 self-titled album is basically a jam album. Omar rallies up some of the Volta boys, writes a bass line and turns everyone loose, except for the rhythm section. How bored do you think Juan got playing the same bass line for 18 minutes? I only make mine do it for 6! That's just cruel.

So I didn't realize this was going to be a record of jamming. The first track, being a 3-minute intro of non- jammed noises got me all hyped for some epic music (noting the track lengths to come). I was a bit confounded by what the album turned out to be. OK, the jams are good, I love the bass lines, the general feel of the pieces, and the improvisation these guys do is unlike any other, but it's rather boring to hear long jams over the same bass line. I prefer hearing largely composed music; the jams can be reserved for live performances or sections of a written piece (the way the Volta does it). I think we can all agree on that. I assume you are agreeing with me at this point.

One neat thing here is you'll notice the general idea of that 18-minute face slap/rub (it hurts and feels good at the same time) is that it will develop into part of "Viscera Eyes."

Omar just likes having fans pay for him to have fun - something I'm sure we'd all like to achieve - but, at this point Omar starts to hint at the future of his solo releases. They are either going to be The Mars Volta's abortions, long jams, or Omar's experiments with how interesting he can make boring us. I won't be buying any of it!

Report this review (#174008)
Posted Sunday, June 15, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is Omar's Second album and his first out of five in the Amsterdam series in which he began recording them in the Netherlands around 2005.Other albums that were to follow in the Amsterdam series were Se Dice Bisonte, No Bůfalo ,The Apocalypse Inside of an Orange,Calibration and Megaritual.

Simultaneously this is the first album for the Omar Rodriguez Lopez Quintet in which most of the Amsterdam series albums were recorded.An important factor to note,is whilst listening to these albums.You'll notice they follow more of a similar style and pattern in comparison to other Omar releases.Others tend to experiment more with loose jamming and incorporate instruments such as synthesizers,drum loops and spacey sound effects.which don't usually feature highly within the quintet,making other releases have a far more electronic and psychedelic nature.

But this is not the case with this album.The songs although long in length seem more structured despite their improvised nature,where there are reoccurring themes and riffs almost like that of a jazz band in which there's a head,solo,head,solo etc.It's with this I feel this album excels,it leaves behind the snobbery of jazz but still gives you the tight musicianship and improvisations.And of course the high energy,experimentation and passion which Omar always brings to the table.Of course if you know anything about Omar from either solo projects or The Mars Volta you've already realised he doesn't care much for music theory and would rather create his own methods and sounds,which do him great justice with his self titled,As you can hear his motivations and expression clearly through his playing on this album rendering him with a completely unique style.

This album in my honest opinion features his best guitar work but that's not to say he steals the lime light.Adrián Terrazas-González,who also used to feature with The Mars Volta up to Octahedron completely tears it up on Saxophone & Bass clarinet.Most notably on the high energy second track Regenbogen Stelen Van Prostituees giving an incredible performance reminding me of a young Mel Collins in King Crimson and perhaps almost to his great standard.It's a shame he isn't playing with the current Mars Volta group as his playing really helped shape and add another dimension to much of Omars work.

The self titled album features only five tracks.The first track,one of which is the albums shortest reaching only at 3:22 consists of Gongs,Tambourines,Reverse symbols with various percussion and effects.Which continuously builds growing louder to eventually,the crescendo of the piece releases you into Regenbogen Stelen Van Prostituees (Stealing Rainbows From Prostitutes)relieving you from the tense opener into something more chaotic and fun.

The longest track reaching 17:27 in length is Jacob Van Lennepkade which only consists of very few riffs but leaves the quintet with endless musical possibility's to explore which leaves a small reminiscence of John Mclaughlin and other such fusion.Omar also recorded a second part to this, which features on another Quintet album "The Apocalypse Inside of an Orange" and eventually was to be moulded into Visceras eyes features on The Mars Volta's third album,Amputechture.This is something you begin to appreciate with Omar's solo releases as there more jam and improvised based.You hear these songs in there rawest form and in a live setting which is a far cry away from the high production of The Mars Volta (Although Omar Produces all Mars Volta & Solo) This and the small amount of tracks could be seen as negative thing from the eyes of a Mars Volta fan.But I personally feel this is what makes this album great and stand out and away from other Mars Volta releases,as it feels much more personal,something which I relish in music.

Overall a very enjoyable album.It should please Omar and Volta fans alike though it's a purely instrumental album.The Quintet/Amsterdam series is some of Omar's best work and if your in need of a follow up,I would recommend The Apocalypse Inside of an Orange.

Report this review (#228703)
Posted Tuesday, July 28, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
3 stars Omar Rodriguez is a pretty interesting album to me, as while musically it's honestly not really anything too special for the most part due to essentially being early ideas that would be further fleshed out just a bit down the line, this album has a really unique appeal in terms of further representing the sheer control Omar had when it came to directing the sound of The Mars Volta. Omar here essentially takes his brand of proggy instrumental jamming and then injects some really neat jazziness into it in order to craft something that's both way more full on while also having a bit more of an outwardly quirky feel to it. A lot of these tracks end up feeling like prototypes of what would end up on The Mars Volta's next album, Amputechture, with these more manic, downright surreal elements pushed to the forefront, with a lot of this tightly controlled chaos that was present in their previous stuff joist feeling a bit closer to well, actual chaos. Everything here feels as loose as can be for the most part, often having these mostly repetitive backing rhythms while you hear Omar totally shredding his guitar whilst a saxophone will often also come in to provide some more variety to these jams. This feels best done on Regenbogen Stelen Van Prostituees, which is one constant burst of energy that feels so densely layered with little interjections that phase in and out to give a lot of depth to this glorified jam session. I find that it particularly works well when the instruments often find themselves briefly falling in line with that central repeated melody before breaking away yet again, gives a nice bit of contrast to make the frenetic soloing feel even more crazy and intense.

Despite these praises however, I do still find this album to be a bit lacking in certain areas, with tracks 3 and 4 taking up the majority of the album's runtime and frankly feeling pretty insignificant beyond being a cool experience for Mars Volta fans to hear where some of their ideas started off with Amputechture. Jacob Van Lennepkade is the most repetitive track here, using the bassline that would soon become Viscera Eyes for 17 minutes straight while some more explorative jamming goes on. The issue is that it just doesn't have enough going for it to carry 17 minutes worth of music and wasn't just outdone with Viscera Eyes, but also with Jacob Van Lennepkade II which essentially sounds like a more intense, exciting version of this. It's pretty cool when not compared to its superior versions, but along with both of them existing making this feel much less important to hear, it's also just rather flawed in certain respects with its aforementioned pacing. Vondelpark bij nacht is the worst offender here though, being this lengthy, spacey almost ambient track that has some really interesting sounds going on, but doesn't really do anything with them, sounding like a budget El Ciervo Vulnerado. It's cool for a couple of minutes for sure but 7 minutes dedicated to this meandering kills the flow a bit and also becomes less interesting once you hear what it becomes on Amputechture, since as this album goes on, it almost feels like it's a demo of that album rather than its own thing, and while these tend to still be quite fun, they just end up feeling a bit unimportant at the same time. This is a really cool album for those who are right into The Mars Volta, which is why I'm giving it a reasonably high score despite how much complaining I've been doing, but I feel that otherwise you'd be better off listening to Amputechture or Omar's next 2 solo albums, which take this kind of sound and push it way further. As it stands, this ends up being pretty cool, but also not really an essential listen either.

Best tracks: Regenbogen stelen van prostituees, Spookrijden op het fietspad

Weakest tracks: Jacob Van Lennepkade, Vondelpark bij nacht

Report this review (#2595617)
Posted Sunday, September 19, 2021 | Review Permalink

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