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Omar Rodriguez-Lopez - Xenophanes CD (album) cover

XENOPHANES

Omar Rodriguez-Lopez

Eclectic Prog


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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.

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Send comments to Epignosis (BETA) | Report this review (#245135)
Posted Sunday, October 18, 2009 | Review Permalink
snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Year 2009 bring us 6 (!) The Mars Volta guitarist Omar Rodriguez-Lopez solo albums. This album chronologically stays somewhere in the middle between them. Musicians team is similar as in previous albums, what means part of TMV team and few additional, incl. Mexican female singer Ximena Sarinan.

If "Los Suenos De Un Higado" was quite unusual beautifully melodic heavy neo-Latin fusion album, "Xenophanes" is more what you waiting from TMV guitarist.

All music is heavy mix of usual TMV energetic mix of guitar noise, synth /samples and heavy psychedelia. Main difference from TMV music is different ( from Cedric) vocal, partially more rounded sound and higher attention to melody. More acoustic sound and more jazzy arrangements. But anyway - explosive energy, fast rhythm and ( psychedelic) heaviness filling all the space around.

The album sound as related TMV side project, similar enough to attract heavy TMV fans and different enough to be interesting for listening. In fact, the work at the level of TMV.

Strong 4,5.

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Send comments to snobb (BETA) | Report this review (#250966)
Posted Monday, November 16, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars First off, I'm going to say this is definitely in my top five favorite albums of all time. This album is that missing link between At the Drive In simplicity and Mars Volta craziness. This holds up to anything Volta has done.

The album begins with noises. Well expected from Omar... and then we're OFF. Punk energy kicks into gear and suddenly seconds later you hear cool little piano melodies in the background. And then Omar's voice comes in. He obviously is running plenty of effects. I'm not sure how good his voice would be raw. Most of the time I have heard his voice masked in effects. But I don't mind the effects. But if you hear the first 3 tracks you get a feel for what this album entails. Noises, solid melody, catchiness within craziness, and a few perfect moments of beauty. Those points where you're listening and you get goosebumps and if you have a cold your cold kinda clears up, adrenaline starts pumping, and you for those few seconds have uncontrollable bliss and and understanding that the person that made this music has felt the same emotions that you have felt.

The last 3 tracks of the album were meant to run as one track. But this is how I prefer long tracks. There are repeating themes but they build and build into more elaborate pieces. Also, I am told that Omar does not understand theory. I want to know his writing process then. Because I feel as though it would take an understanding of it to write the kind of layers that he does.

Well, hopefully that review wasn't too fanboyish. :-D

Five stizzars.

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Send comments to Smurph (BETA) | Report this review (#644518)
Posted Friday, March 02, 2012 | Review Permalink

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