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Omar Rodriguez-Lopez - El Grupo Nuevo de Omar Rodriguez Lopez - Cryptomnesia CD (album) cover


Omar Rodriguez-Lopez

Eclectic Prog

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3 stars For "Cryptomnesia", Omar Rodriguez Lopez arranged one of the best line-ups I've ever seen, of course you get absolutely awesome Omar on guitar, Cedric Bixler Zavala, providing as usual devilish vocals, and Juan Alderete from The Mars Volta, and Jonathan Hischke and Zach Hill from Hella, and damn, Zach Hill can play, he is like this crazy machine gun with an incredible sense of timing, it's an animal.

Concerning the music this album kind of disappointed me, after seeing the line up, acknowledging it was math rock and reading good reviews, I expected some sonic crazy music really addicting, well, that is not completely untrue but most of the songs are kind of "dead", for example, "Half Kleptos" has a crazy introducing chorus but then the music just dies! I find it very hard to find a melody in the verse, which is a shame, same goes for songs like "Cryptomnesia" or "Tuberculoids", where it's very hard to find something to hold on to. Also, the music has at some points the very worst thing of math rock, directionless cacophony, and that's kind of bothering too.

As for the good part, well as I mentioned, "Half Kleptos" has one amazing, addicting chorus, the middle songs from "Puny Humans" to "Paper Cunts" are also very good, and have some interesting "track" structure, as the songs continue over to other tracks, which is cool, and Omar gets crazy on "Warren Oates" solo, which is really mind blowing.

What I feel about this record is that it could've been so much better, it should have been re-thought before it was released, and also the production is kind of disturbing, I had to get 320kbps mp3 to be at peace with what I was hearing.

This deserves 3,5 stars, I can't do that, so 3 stars it is.

Report this review (#236060)
Posted Monday, August 31, 2009 | Review Permalink
Eclectic Prog Team
2 stars This is The Mars Volta B-team. Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, whom I consider to be the most creative guitarist of the decade, must reserve all of his best material for his main band (rightfully so, I believe), and just dump everything else he comes up with on a dozen solo albums throughout the year. Amusingly enough, many of these albums feature Cedric Bixler-Zavala as the "guest" lead vocalist. The rest of the lineup may change (or not), but the result is more or less subpar music from The Mars Volta (in this case, complete with gratuitous profanity). In this case, it's subpar music from The Mars Volta with an experimental edge and an electronic tinge. Rodriguez-Lopez said he completed the music for this album in under a week, and that it waited two years before the vocals were added- perhaps during that time he could have worked some coherence into the compositions. Hardcore fans may delight, but it shouldn't be surprising if even they don't rejoice. For a high-quality solo outing from Rodriguez-Lopez, I recommend Xenophanes without reservation.

"Tuberculoids" Predictably enough, the album starts with a variety of bizarre noises and creepy sounds. The band bursts in abruptly, with Bixler-Zavala singing almost immediately. The instrumentation and arrangement is one blurry mess. Worst of all, the vocal melody is not in tune with the "music" (a term I use loosely here)- not a good start at all.

"Half Kleptos" An improvement on the opening track, this at least has a coherent refrain, but the sound is still really off. Bixler-Zavala sings really low and doesn't sound right doing so.

"Cryptomnesia" This opens with electronic noises and a man speaking about being high on hashish and pretending to be a Muslim with a girl giggling at his tale (at least that's what I gathered). The music is frantic and noisy, again with a vocal melody that is a mismatch with the music.

"They're Coming to Get You, Barbara" Automatic electronic music is paired with weird, breathy noises before giving way to even more nonsensical, avant-garde twaddle.

"Puny Humans" Yet another bizarre excursion that is merely painful to listen to. Bixler-Zavala basically raps during the verses and sings "I won't get Tourette's if you won't get Tourette's." The final part of this song is his best performance on the album, however.

"Shake is for 8th Graders" After a brief interlude of someone talking, the previous track continues.

"Noir" This is more electronic noises and otherworldly breathing. The high-pitched singing is accompanied mainly by a chugging bass playing the same two notes. The second half is a cacophony from hell.

"Paper Cunts" Paper cunts? Really? While I'm certainly no fan of censorship or prudishness, the title of this piece doubles as both bad taste and a cringe-worthy pun. Unlike the title, the hectic music will be forgotten just as quickly as it is heard.

"Elderly Pair Beaten with Hammer" Here is another disharmonious piece with an inspiring title. It's loaded with insane, profanity-laced lyrics (perhaps Bixler-Zavala does have Tourette's) and chaotic music (again).

"Warren Oates" Here is another collection of noise, sounds and guitar thrown together haphazardly, with only the drums providing anything coherent.

"Fuck Your Mouth" This seems to be a pointlessly random excuse to use the title- the track itself consists of a man thanking folks for listening and then signing off.

Report this review (#245235)
Posted Monday, October 19, 2009 | Review Permalink
2 stars Im a huge fan of the Mars Volta, so getting this album with both the frontmen (Cedric Bixler doing the vocals) should be a pleasure. But its not that great ! Its missing out on the melody, and often comes out very confused, and even though its running full speed most of the time, it never gets the power output, that "Volta" has got a full supply of. The mix is very muddy, must be a part of the experiment, but in my view its not working out.

The compositions are in general pretty thin, there is bits and pieces in between, that catch my interest, especialy where it gets a bit punk'y like back in the "At The Drive-In" days, "Puny Humans" & "Shake Is for 8th Graders" stands out. Cedric has some nice moments on "Tuberculoids" & "Noir"

The 3 tracks "Paper Cunts/Elderly Pair Beaten with Hammer/Warren Oates" (running together as one song) makes up for a track allmost similar to Mars Volta quality, but still its on a lower level. You need to listen to it quite a few times to dig trough the poor production.

If you are a hardcore Volta lover, this album is getting better after 10-15 runs, but it never get close enough to the real thing to get more than a 2 star rating.

Report this review (#276648)
Posted Tuesday, April 6, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars What if the recently deceased Captain Beefheart decided to make a hardcore punk album?

The dissonant harmonies and insistent poly-rhythms make me recall 1969's Trout Mask Replica. To be clear, I'm don't find Don Van Vliet's music pleasing or even regularly listenable: and any self-respecting human being would probably find themselves turning "Cryptomnesia" down in volume, if not off altogether. The lyrics are a wry, psychedelic commentary on the excessive and immature "punk" aesthetic Cedric Bixler Zavala was acquainted with growing up in El Paso, Texas: the song title "Shake is for 8th Graders," referring to the dusty remnants of marijuana often found at the bottom of a swiftly disappearing bag, sums up the ridiculous "theme" of this album. Bixler-Zavala's words are crafted to be as blunt and disphonic as the underlying musical texture, produced by the guitarist, Omar A. Rodriguez Lopez. I can almost imagine a furious, glitching android at the producer's desk, distorting the music both literally and figuratively to paint a picture of some sort of bizarre, angular suffering. I suppose that pretty much sums up the 90s hardcore punk scene: These people were disillusioned, childish, and fuming at the nostrils.

Clocking in at about 36 minutes, I propose that what we are hearing is really a postmodern masterpiece in some respects: The music is highly complex, coherent, and provides ironic commentary on the juvenile anger and foul attitude that characterized commercial punk music and commercial punk culture. It is saturated in progressive ethos from its obvious connection to the music of Van Vliet. Overall, it is worth hearing, if in small doses: We even get a sense of the "musical theater" present in many of The Mars Volta's releases. Rodriguez-Lopez and Bixler-Zavala are playing with us, and if we have the wherewithal to play along, the pain is rewarding. After all, the best comedy is a touch cruel. Three stars for effort, but unfortunately, this is not a lasting release.

Report this review (#361291)
Posted Wednesday, December 22, 2010 | Review Permalink

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