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The Mars Volta

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The Mars Volta Tremulant EP album cover
3.31 | 133 ratings | 32 reviews | 19% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, released in 2002

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Cut That City (5:44)
2. Concertina (4:54)
3. Eunuch Provocateur (8:48)

Total Time: 19:26

Bonus tracks on 2014 digital edition:
4. Drown All Your Witches (by ANTEMASQUE) (3:31)
5. Blackhead (by Le Butcherettes) (4:07)

Line-up / Musicians

- Cedric Zavala / vocals
- Omar Rodriguez-Lopez / guitar
- Jon Theodore / drums
- Juan Alderete / bass
- Isaiah Owens / keyboards

Releases information

CD Gold Standard Laboratories GSL54CD, GSL54 (2002 US)
12" Gold Standard Laboratories GSL54 (2002 US)
Digital (FLAC) Nadie Sound (2014 US) (remaster)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to The Bearded Bard for the last updates
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Buy THE MARS VOLTA Tremulant EP Music

THE MARS VOLTA Tremulant EP ratings distribution

(133 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(19%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(32%)
Good, but non-essential (38%)
Collectors/fans only (10%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

THE MARS VOLTA Tremulant EP reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by frenchie
4 stars As far as debut EP's go, this is spectacular. It shows off the power of the mars volta and is a brilliant prelude to their proper debut, Deloused in the Comatorium. This EP manages to flow well as each song strings together as one without any gaps inbetween. This technique was also used on the full length concept album. The mars volta are also renown for their amazing introductions to a record.

"Cut That City" has a 2 minute intro of strange buzzing sounds and quiet guitar effects which is similar to the incredible "Son et Lumiere". It is also similar in the way that it explodes into loud guitar fuelled noise. This song shows off the power and progressive abilities of the band as well as Cedrics ghostly vocals. This is truely incredible stuff.

This Flows into "Concertina" and picks up with a continuous flow of fiddley guitar pieces, long instrumentals but the vocals are often drowned out by the ferocious guitar playing. This is a shame as Cedric has such a wonderful voice but luckily the band improved their production vastly on their studio album. Still it's only an EP so you cant exactly expect a masterpiece.

"Eunuch Provacateur" is a dizzying rush yet has also has its slower parts on the album. The lyrics are excellent and explore different languages. The last few minutes of the song show off the bands trippy guitar effects. This is a very similar outro to the special UK edition of Deloused in the Comatorium. This shows similarities to the middle section of "Cicatriz ESP" and the ending bonus track, "Ambuletz" but its can become reptitive and boring and ends up dragging the album down because it just goes on too long. I think the bands dizzy guitar effects are good here though and the band are really good at doing it, just it can be very daring in places.

Tremulant is one of the best debut EP's since Tool's "Opiate" and if you loved Deloused in the Comatorium then i highly recommend you track this down for more volta, especially if you cant wait for the new album!

Review by Trotsky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars When this first came out back in 2002 it must have seemed like a tantalising harbinger of what was to come. After all, At The Drive In's main men Omar and Cedric had walked out on their own creation to put together the Mars Volta. And I can imagine that if I'd been following developments at the time, I might have become quite fond of this little record.

Unfortunately, I've come to the Tremulant EP as a committed fan of TMV who already had De-Loused and Frances in his pocket, and as such, it really doesn't offer me much. The trio of songs Cut That City (which has the odd passage of sounding just like Rage Against The Machine), the mellow Concertina (a beautiful dreamy baroque ballad that explodes from time to time and which would have been one of the best songs on De-Loused) and the hard-funk epic Eunuch Provaceteur (which also has its moments) all feature ideas that would be developed more successfully on the band's full-length debut De-Loused In The Comatorium.

I will say that Concertina is one of my favourite TMV songs now, but I can't in all honesty describe this as anything more than a collector's curiousity. It occupies an unusual position in that only established fans of the group would really want it and yet it will definitely come as a deja vu sort of disappointment to most who have already heard the first two albums. I certainly wouldn't recommend that proggers looking to check out TMW begin here (De-Loused is my preferred suggestion). ... 39% on the MPV scale

Review by James Lee
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This is the one that caught everyone's attention. Well, everyone who was responsible for bringing the band to the public eye, anyway...having despaired of the "emo" tag, Omar and Cedric departed At the Drive-In with a mission of unrepentant, uncompromising artistic vision.

It's a slow burn, with the burbling intro to ease us into their world, but scant minutes into "Cut That City", we've already sampled many of the distinctive TMV elements; cutting distorted guitar lines, slaughterhouse funk rhythms, and that unmistakable voice delivering inscrutable wails. The instruments are a bit buried in the wash of reverb and electronics, so it's not as engagingly immediate as "De-loused"- however, the wash is more texturally atmospheric, almost approaching a lush late-80s post-punk style.

"Concertina" rages in on a burst but settles into a moody ebb and flow unmistakably reminiscent of "Roulette Dares", with the same aggressive heatbreak catharsis feel. If Robert Smith had been born a decade or two later, and mexican, and given a shot or two of adrenaline, he might have made music like this. Omar's Fripp is showing, but also his Morricone...

They bump up the energy even further with "Eunuch Provacateur", which features drumming of the wildest variety, funky like sickest DnB but 100% real- he's just that good. I'm guessing that Flea was most impressed by this one. The verby, soupy production tries to blunt the impact, but there's no stopping this juggernaut. The echoing, distorted beatbox makes an appearance, along with some queasy sampled vocals, for the krafty sound of the final minutes. B-side it may be, but that's what EPs do best.

Sure, it's debut- rough around the production edges and flirting with ideas that would need further refinement, but it's a deep embrace of modern rock's frontiers- and therefore, arguably even more progressive...i.e., this was a giant leap from thir origins, compared to the smaller but firmer step forward from here to "De-loused". 3 stars that creeps towards 4 if you're already a fan.

Review by Moatilliatta
4 stars Out of the ashes of At the Drive-In arises The Mars Volta. The group is led by guitarist Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and vocalist Cedric Bixler-Zavala. This three-track EP shows the two further exploring the experimental, obscure side of At the Drive- In, and taking it to the next level. They dropped the agitated yelling from their vocal lines, which were used effectively in the past, but for where they were going now, there was no place for them. Cedric shows here that he has a good voice, but it certainly needed to be refined. The vocals on this EP are on key, and they are not bad by any means, but they were at some points weak and the vocal melodies were then not at their full potential. That aside, this gives us a little taste of the remarkable innovation these guys bear.

"Cut That City" opens the EP with a couple minutes of noise, noise that will become a notorious trait of the group, and abruptly explodes into the body of the song: an aggressive rhythm characterized by the wild, polyrhythmic, Latin-infused drumming of Jon Theodore and an overall tone reminiscent of latter day At the Drive-In. Only this time, sound manipulation and keyboards were present. Cedric's vocals enter shortly after. His vocals were clearly different from his earlier work; the melodies displayed were more intricate and demanded a wider range than ever. They were at times, unfortunately, a bit weak, and missing that raw intensity from before, but they did not take anything away from the song. Conservative may not be the correct term for them, but after listening to De-Loused in the Comatorium or Frances the Mute, that word may cross your mind. The same case would be found throughout the rest of the EP.

They then bring the tempo down with "Concertina," the EP's most accessible track. A softer intro and verse builds into an intense and memorable chorus, with a few other explosions later on. It even has a verse in Spanish. This song shows that the group could write accessible material, while still making it complex and creative, which is hard to do these days.

"Eunuch Provocateur" closes the EP. Another intriguing track. There is not much else to say from here on. A great, tight overall performance by the group.

Considering this is a debut EP, it is quite impressive, and a pleasant surprise for us. While the production was not up to par with what was to come, and some of the ideas could use some refining, it is still very enjoyable. There is no denying the band's creativity and potential. However, combining that with the imperfect vocals, we have ourselves only a four star piece.

The Mars Volta re-recorded "Concertina" and "Eunuch Provocateur" during what is known as the "Summer Demo Sessions," an early stage of the De-Loused recording. These versions far outdo the Tremulant versions. Cedric's vocals were perfect; everything that was an issue on the EP was corrected. That includes the production as well. They display the full potential of the songs. If you get a chance to hear them, do not pass it up.

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars As many cases with other new bands, The Mars Volta landed their first introduction of their music through this EP to give a sense of how their music sounds like. As I only listened to this EP after I followed the band until its "Frances The Mute" album I can generally say that the band is quite consistent with their music direction. The style of the opening track "Cut That City" (5:44) gives a flavor of Peter Gabriel's music nuance at the start - through the exploration of sound effects produced by keyboard. It takes quite a long duration of this effect to take up the blast of heavy music at approx minutes 1:58. When the music starts to roll with all instruments contribute their roles. I still can find this style until the bands "Frances The Mute" album. You might have problem with vocal / singing style but I'm OK with it. There are bits of King Crimson also during musical break.

"Concertina" (4:54) is probably much more accessible with its bluesy opening and unique singing style. Again I observe the guitar style is something I usually find in King Crimson music. The music turns into complex arrangements in the middle of the track. To me, I really enjoy this second track. The last track "Eunuch Provocateur" (8:48) music style seems like the roots of The Mars Volta's music as I can easily find the style in the preceding albums - especially "Frances The Mute". It's an enjoyable concluding track.

Overall, this is a good introduction to The Mars Volta's music. My rating here has considered that this is an EP, not a full album. My judgment is based on my experience with three songs featured here - and not to compare with full album where the CD duration is typically more than 45 minutes. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Review by OpethGuitarist
3 stars The beginning? Not quite.

To say that this was a new band is well, wrong. The Mars Volta already had accomplished musicians from bands passed, (At the Drive In) and were well accustomed to the process of putting out a record. That said, this is no ATDI clone.

The final track on this record should make it pretty clear that The Mars Volta was heading somewhere, with its modern qualities combined with the craziness of King Crimson. Pure energy. In fact, Eunuch Provocateur is still one of my favorite Mars Volta pieces, the sound and passion of a band that can't wait to literally rock your face off.

A fine introduction that caught the eye of many and would lead to their magnum opus of De-Loused. There the ideas would become more refined, and the experience simply unbelievable.

Review by russellk
3 stars And so it begins. AT THE DRIVE-IN morphs into THE MARS VOLTA, a new vehicle for CEDRIC and OMAR to experiment with.

'Tremulant' is an EP of three songs, so a three-star rating ought to be seen in that context: 'Tremulant' costs less, and delivers less, than a regular album. The sound here is transitional between the frenetic post-hardcore ravings of AT THE DRIVE-IN and the full-on progressive rock of later THE MARS VOLTA offerings. The first track in particular ('Cut That City') sounds as much like their former group as their new one, and suffers a little because of it. 'Concertina', however, is an excellent track, with the vocal and instrumental gymnastics coupled with slamming staccato syncopations so much a THE MARS VOLTA trademark. At eight minutes, 'Eunuch Provocateur' gives the band the space they need to construct an archetypal VOLTA soundscape, albeit embryonic. Opening with a thunderous rhythm, the track demonstrates an oddly loose, yet somehow satisfying, association of ideas. Segues here are non-existent: the track bursts from idea to idea, from polyrhythm to enormous riff to electronic mash-up. Disturbingly, nothing really makes any sense, and it is with this facet of THE MARS VOLTA that many people struggle. The tracks seldom return to their starting point, and often finish up sounding quite different to how they start, as evidenced by 'Eunuch Provocateur'. Of course, don't try to squeeze meaning out of the lyrics, even if you can decipher them. CEDRIC'S voice is another colour on the sonic palette, not a dispenser of platitudes. If you like your prog neat and tidy, THE MARS VOLTA is not for you.

I don't really know why CEDRIC and OMAR decided to make music like this. They might have gone on to do something far more commercially rewarding. But I'm so grateful they decided to pursue their passion and produce majestic (and, it must be acknowledged, hit-and-miss) progressive rock.

By no means should you start your THE MARS VOLTA listening experience here. Go grab 'De-loused in the Comatorium'. I hope you fall in love with this high- energy band that, along with a few contemporaries, is helping enlarge our definition of progressive.

Review by The Pessimist
3 stars Overall, this is an OK EP. The first track, Cut The City, in spite of the terribly annoying effects at the start, is a good track. Very trippy with Cedric screaming down the mic, but an awesome riff in 19/8 redeems that factor. The second track, Concertina, is very boring and completely not like TMV at all. Probably the worst track they have ever done. The Third track is excellent. Eunuch Provocateur is, and remains to be, one of my favourite TMV songs of all time, and could quite easily fit into their best works, De-loused in the Comatorium.

Overall, a three star piece of work.

Review by FruMp
4 stars THE MARS VOLTA at their most raw, and musically their best and most original.

Tremulant is The Mars Volta's debut EP after the split from post-hardcore/emo band At the drive-in and as such no one quite knew what to expect and I'm sure after this was released they didn't quite know what to expect next, an amazingly original brand of music (which is quite a feat in the 21st century) energetic, dark, spacey and technical this debut contains some of the best songs of their relatively short career.

It's hard to pick a highlight track, all 3 are pretty equal and cover different areas I'd say all are equally good. The opening track 'Cut that City' starts off with an ominous intro before the listener is blasted with a wall of sound, with some weird time signatures and syncopation, this is The Mars Volta. Concertina is the most accessible song on the EP it's quite a dark brooding song with an amazing chorus where all the musicians interplay brilliantly. The EP ends with the very out there 'Eunuch Provocateur' with some quiet guitar before a drum driven jam that shows a big electro influence, a distorted sample and the dissonant intense chorus chimes in before a funky breakdown and off into the verse - Amazing songwriting once you dissect it.

Their are some great musicians on this album with very diverse styles and musical backgrounds but the one who comes to the fore is surely drummer Jon Theodore. He plays some amazing syncopated and jazzy beats and some of the stuff he plays is quite hard to get your head around he is always doing something really interesting, coupled with groovy French bassist Juan Aldrette they make for a killer rhythm section. Omar Rodriguez is the main man behind The Mars Volta and what he lacks in technical ability he more than makes up for in technicality, he provides some very interesting riffs and everything he does no matter how disjointed or dissonant seems to work. Isiah Owens contributes some memorable moments on the keys but mostly he's just there to provide more meat to the sound and it works very well. When it comes to Cedric's vocals though a lot of people can be deterred as he has a tendency to be quite whiny and high pitched but on this recording his vocals are really appropriate - heavily reverbed and not too over the top - which brings me to another point - the production. The production on this album is what all Mars Volta records should be like, it's quite gritty but it's still produced well the sounds meld into each other in a lot of places to form this wall of awesomeness, especially in the more intense moments - this kind of production suits the band much better than their later efforts which are in my opinion far too overproduced.

Overall Tremulant was a fantastic start to the Mars Volta's career and features some of the best songs and ideas they have committed to record although there are a few gripes like the slightly unnecessary intro and outro to the EP and the lack of material, anyone who is a fan of the albums should definitely check out the roots they sprung from. Also on a side note - if you are a bit disappointed by the polished commercial production of the albums then you should definitely get their summer demo sessions which feature most of the songs from De-loused but recorded in the vein of Tremulant around the same time they are in my opinion the best material the band has recorded.

Review by ZowieZiggy
3 stars This work sounds very shy in comparison with "De-Loused" which a brilliant ode to spectacular music. But of course, it is only an EP which sounds more experimental, improvised.

The long and spacey intro for "Cut That City", leaves the place to a mostly noisy vocal part which is rather annoying. Noise annoys, that's for sure.

Fortunately there is a great song also featured. "Concertina" is probably the only composition which is on par with their later "De-Loused". One gets these emotional vocals again (bilingual), and the fantastic rhythm changes not alien to some "Muse" songs. A very good and catchy (pop) song which is the only highlight.

The longer and closing "Eunuch Provocateur" is highly energetic, distorted, tortured, complex and amazingly wild and raw. In one word: a typical Mars Volta song. It would have gained in overall quality if the final part (three minutes) would have been cut.

Three stars for this good EP. But the best things are to come.

Review by ProgBagel
3 stars The Mars Volta - 'Tremulant' 3 stars

3 stars for 3 good (to great) songs on one if the finest debut EP's.

This is an extremely good but short EP. This came about after the deconstruction of At the Drive-In and the pursuance of an experimental niche Omar and Cedric longed to search for. The strong starts that are apparent on all of the Mars Volta's albums are no exception even from the start of it all. Opening the disc with a lot of noise and atmosphere is 'Cut That City'. This song should be welcomed by the heartbroken At the Drive-In fans as it does bare some similarities, containing the punkish vibe but holding some funk rhythms to it. There is a few flaws in Cedrics voice on this track; he does not really sound in key and the effects included on the vocals have not been mastered. After all, this is still just an EP. 'Concertina' was my introduction to this band and still one of their better tracks in my opinion. Omar and Cedric's vocal/guitar synchronization really stands out and makes this song great. This is a more Floyd/Crimson oriented track in the verse, with Omar's simple dissonant and atmospheric leads drive the music. The final number, 'Eunuch Provocateur' was an interesting one but my least favorite. A trap that the band fell into with 'Frances the Mute', this song is 8 minutes with 4 minutes of 'music'. The 4 minutes are decent; more of the same from 'Cut that City'.

This can serve to be an excellent introduction to this band especially for a frightened At the Drive-In fan. Obviously, The Mars Volta has surpassed this release with all their output so far, but this was still a good start and something any of their fans should look into.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The Tremulant EP is the debut release from experimental US rock act The Mars Volta. The EP consist of three songs and has a playing time of 18:26 minutes. The EP is was recorded in Long Beach, California from October to December of 2001. It was produced by Alex Newport ( Fudge Tunnel, Theory of Ruin, Nailbomb) and The Mars Volta.

It´s obvious right from the start of Tremulant that you´re listening to The Mars Volta. They have such a distinct musical style and Cedric Zavala´s high pitched vocals are even more distinct. The three songs are all of high quality and of course a must for The Mars Volta fans. For us more casual listeners there´s much to enjoy too though. The band have yet to perfect their style but listen to those sharp rythms and occasional psychadelic elements. Just great music if you ask me.

The guitar playing from Omar Rodriguez-Lopez always needs to be mentioned when talking about The Mars Volta. That man is an outstanding guitarist and composer. The rest of the band are great musicians as well.

The production is good, but not as sharp as on later releases.

The Tremulant EP is a good first release from The Mars Volta and if you have an interest in the band you should take a listen to this one. 3 stars is well deserved.

Review by Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars This little EP shows the evolution of The Mars Volta from At the Drive In. The music runs a fair bit on the experimental side, perhaps not anything more than they would do by the time their second full length album rolled around, but certainly experimental. For fans of The Mars Volta, this is very intriguing; otherwise, it's subpar at best.

"Cut that City" Atmospheric sounds and percussion dominate the beginning of the track. The frantic guitar and rhythm section that will become The Mars Volta's trademark (not to mention Cedric Bixler-Zavala's voice with all manner of effects poured on them) bursts in unexpectedly. As much of his work with The Mars Volta will be, Omar Rodriguez-Lopez's guitar goes at a frantic pace.

"Concertina" Bixler-Zavala's vocals come across as completely immature here. He sounds like a pale imitation of himself from future albums, especially when he sings in Spanish. The music is okay, but only just.

"Eunuch Provocateur" Driving percussion, swampy guitar, steady bass, and sound effects begin this one. Here, Bixler-Zavala's vocals and Rogriguez-Lopez's guitar work give us the best indication of where The Mars Volta would be very shortly. The strange voices are also a harbinger of the second album. The second half of this song is laden with sound effects that range from interesting to downright obnoxious.

Review by Queen By-Tor
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars In the beginning...

One of today's leading pioneers of the Heavy Progressive scene released this excellent EP back before the light of their debut album, Deloused In The Comatorium. It represents a sneak peak of the band for those who were following them as the recently deceased At The Drive In and holds a mere 3 songs that remain exclusive to this disc. It shows a unique band ready to head into the studio to record a killer album, but is - these days - more of a disc for the fans, as it does no longer represent the band and their direction like it did back before their first album.

That said, it does hold a lot of very good material. The three songs present are some of Volta's stronger efforts, especially the standout Concertina which has become a fan favorite over the years. The other two songs are more rooted in Volta's famous noise tradition, using a lot of bizarre effects between the utter chaos that is their music. Cut That City especially, the 5-minute song opens up with a good 2-minutes of bizarre ambient effects before even revealing the band for the first time. Eunuch Provocateur is the longest song on the album, clocking in at almost 9-minutes. It's not nearly the strongest song on the album, but it still manages to leave and impression and give a good indication that the band would be able ot compose longer works in the future.

While it was to be many hardcore fan's starting point to the group it would not be recommended as a starting point to new listeners. However, if you can find it for a good price then feel free to go ahead and buy it, because it is a godo 15-minute gem of an album. By ProgArchives rating standards the most comfortable rating for this one is 2 stars, fans and collectors only - just know that the material is well worth getting for the Volta follower.

Review by Conor Fynes
3 stars 'Tremulant EP' - The Mars Volta (5/10)

With every journey comes a first step, and in the case of The Mars Volta, their first step was among their most profound. The prequel to their classic 'De-Loused In The Comatorium,' this EP has a very similar feeling to their debut LP. None of these songs would sound out of placed on 'De-Loused.' Although there are only three songs to be found here, they are all great in their own way, and the centrepiece of the work, 'Concertina' is a true TMV classic. This is arguably The Mars Volta's 3rd best CD, after the aforementioned debut and it's sucessor 'Frances The Mute.' Seeing as this short album is rather short, it's probably best to tackle it by the song.

'Tremulant's opener, 'Cut This City' begins with a rather boring, but somewhat trippy two minute introduction, which primarily consists of atmospheric effects. I suppose it helps to make the album longer, and it really gives you a startle when the song really begins. When the guitars and other instruments kick in, there's a real shock to the system, and a really great energy. The vocals on this song are indiscernable yet beautiful in their own strange way... The keyboard really blends in well with the energetic guitar work. Despite the fact that this song is great, it's actually my least favourite on the EP. There's only better music to come.

'Concertina,' as I have mentioned before, is the album's true great cut. It's the song everyone loves, and for good reason! There's so much emotion in it, and there's even some Xylophone etched in there as well. In terms of song structure, it's rather conventional, but the way it's produced is very psychedelic sounding. The vocals are without a doubt the best on the album. Every Mars Volta fan should have a listen to this song. It's one of the most sentimental songs The Mars Volta has ever written.

And lastly comes 'Eunich Provocateur.' It took me a few spins to get into, but now I can see why it's so popular with Prog fans. It's the most experimental song on the EP, and although I still don't listen to it as much as the more conventional songs, it's really tightly composed. The last two minutes are reminiscent of the album's intro, giving 'Tremulant' a feeling of cohesion. Great stuff.

On a final note, the production quality is suprisingly fantastic! It's not often a band's inaugural release has such pristine sound quality. It helps make this the great EP it is. Every true Mars Volta fan should have this EP in their collection. Excellent.

Review by aapatsos
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
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.

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The real The Mars Volta debut work ( but just 3-songs EP). I found this CD because of my great interest to that band, and much more later, than the other albums. The music there is a bit different from later works ( but all later works are very different between each other as well), but for sure it is The Mars Volta.

First of three song starts from long electronic/effects introduction in very Pink Floydish style. But then things go in TMV scenario - trash/heavy metal explosion, many rhythm changes, characteristic vocal. Music is not as psychedelic, as in few next albums, but more heavy metal- ised. Second song is more usual melodic and heavily energetic rock. The third and last one is longer composition with jazzy drumming, heavy guitar riffs and electronic sounds background. In short heavy metal explosions I can hear System of A Down influence. Structure is complex with many breaks in melodies and rhythms. The final ( and quite long) part of the song is long instrumental solo of pseudo jazzy drum machine and electronic synth/samples

This EP is interesting by itself as well, but still a bit raw and too short to give band's full picture. I believe that it will be interesting for band's fans, but not the best place to start.

Review by Sinusoid
2 stars I guess The Mars Volta were waiting for DE-LOUSED to make a really smashing debut, but this is a nice tie-over. For the time, TREMULANT seems tailor-made to tease people with material from the leaders of At the Drive-In with a more progressive sound, only to expand upon this and make it better within a year. I'm speaking about this in the year 2010, and a fair portion of us know what happens next before we even figured out TREMULANT existed.

That's basically why I rate TREMULANT so low, not because it's bad but because it's not really an EP worth scouring every nook and cranny for. I'll go on record saying that ''Cut That City'' is the best song on here (so much ferocity), ''Concertina'' reminds me of another prog group in Paatos, and ''Eunuch Provocateur'' could've fit nicely on DE-LOUSED. I'll also go on the record saying that unless your love for the Mars Volta in unconditional or you had this in 2002, this EP is not essential.

Review by siLLy puPPy
4 stars It's fairly well known that THE MARS VOLTA emerged from the ashes of the post-hardcore band At The Drive-In that imploded because of the relentless nature of lead vocalist Cedric Bixler-Zavala and Omar Rodriguez-Lopez' collective boredom with the status quo of the simplicity of the music they were playing. The two had more ambitious visions and wanted to engage in more experimental approaches. The rift caused the band to fall apart right as they were about to break. Bixler-Zavala and Rodriguez- Lopez continued with another side project called De Facto which would evolve into what would become known as THE MARS VOLTA. The other members of At The Drive-In went on to form Sparta. This is also the only VOLTA release to feature founding member Eva Gardiner on bass.

Before the full-length debut "De-Loused In The Comatorium" in 2003, this El Paso, TX based band which has seen numerous lineup changes released a single EP in 2002 titled THE TREMULANT, which has the dictionary definition as a device on an organ by which the wind stream is made to fluctuate in intensity producing a tremolo effect but in reality, the title actually refers to a concept story of "De-Loused In The Comatorium" referring to TREMULANTS which are creatures that dwell inside the mind of the main character Cerpin Taxt. Likewise this reference also portends the title of the first official album that would emerge with a different cast of musicians, a better production job and was the album to put THE MARS VOLTA on the map as a wild and energetic new talent. But the word TREMULANT does seem to suggest the band's musical approach as well even literally.

THE TREMULANT EP effectively serves as the bridge between the post-hardcore sounds of At The Drive-In and the newly created more experimental progressive rock THE MARS VOLTA sound that would be perfected on the following two albums. This short just shy of 20 minute EP contains only three tracks but like the best punk infused albums that display ample quantities of energetic passionate angst as well as pent up frustration, manages to pack in an album's worth of ideas in a condensed version. Many of the traits that would become THE MARS VOLTA classic sound have debuted here as well, those being the punk inspired guitar riffs mixed with abstract and surreal bouts of psychedelia along with progressive complexities and experimental weirdness.

"Cut That City" begins with a rather head scratching minute and a half of gurgling noise and an irregular heart beat type percussive drive before finally bursting into the more familiar guitar driven riffage and frenetic oddly timed drumming patterns the band has become known for although at this point the band was still detoxing from its post-hardcore days and delivers faster tempos than the full-length albums. Likewise Bixler-Zavala's vocals, while always sounding a little goofy, really come off as left field on this one as his all over the map style is even more unhinged than on future releases.

"Concertina" is more of a classic VOLTA track of the future with a nice mix of Rodriguez-Lopez' jittery guitar arpeggios dancing along in clean echoey fashion with Bixler-Zavala delivering his goofy yelp to keep the melodic flow going while the bass and drums provide a slightly off-kilter rhythm section. While only rumored, this track is supposedly a stab at former At The Drive-In member Ben Rodriguez who is claimed to have not been very nice to be polite and is perhaps a release of tension regarding the conflicts that led to the band's untimely demise. This track also displays some of those killer idiosyncratic guitar licks that sound unlike any other. Rodriguez-Lopez at this point had developed a very unique stylistic approach that mixes Latin music with heavy rock and some jazzy touches to boot.

"Eunuch Provocateur" is the meatiest track on board and also the longest just shy of the nine minute mark and also prognosticates the classic VOLTA sound on "De-Loused" with an incessant post-hardcore drive mixed up with progressive time signatures and psychedelic sound effects whizzing by. The track also is the most experimental and creative with not only unexpected twists and turns and deviations but also some stellar backwards vocals that are really saying nothing more than lyrics from children's songs like "Itsy Bitsy Spider" as well as "did mommy or daddy ever have to spank you?"

For a short little sucker this one really packs a punch and although not as well produced or well composed as "De-Loused" or "Frances The Mute," this one is a nice little slice of rawness that reminds the fans just where the band emerged from and the perfect little transition statement that the band was free to unshackle the chains and take the music to new levels that were unthinkable in At The Drive-In. Except for the annoying one and a half minutes of nonsensical gurgly noise that unfortunately begins this EP, this is actually a really good collection of three tracks that shows THE MARS VOLTA already having their full powers in tact. While the production is a little rough around the edges by the later standards, this one was remastered and released digitally with two bonus tracks, but personally i prefer this straight forward, no nonsense unique little slice of renegade post-hardcore that just wanted to get a little weird.

Review by Kempokid
4 stars While The Mars Volta tend to be heavily praised for their first 2 albums, it still felt clear that Omar and Cedric hit the ground running after their work in At the Drive In and De Facto with their debut EP, Tremulant. Those more experimental, complex elements to their sound that could be seen previously really come into their own here, with the frenetic intricacy of Omar's guitar work finally having an opportunity to completely flourish and get complemented by an equally talented musician, Jon Theodore. That tight focus on rhythm feels as if it's taken to a whole new level with Theodore's drumming, being able to perfectly fuse meticulous rhythm with a lot of manic flair, constantly breaking up his grooves with crazy drum fills to give his style a certain looseness to it without falling into the territory of being messy. What I love about Tremulant is the way that the band immediately made the most out of this with all 3 of the songs here having such intensity that nicely represents the post-hardcore leanings of their sound being just as strong as ever.

Each track has such a distinct identity to it and they all sound so good as well, making for a great little listening experience. Cut that City, while probably being the weakest song here also has an undeniable sense of ferocity that's supported both by the fast paced instrumentation and the veritable wall of distortion that feels like it's being created around Cedric's dramatic wailing, and it just doesn't sound like it'll calm down at all, immediately representing how bold The Mars Volta were right out of the gate. A similar intensity is conveyed with Concertina, but it's channelled into how the emotion is delivered, with a constantly melancholic tone that makes Cedric sound like he's singing he's heart out with a sense of remorse and longing underpinning it all, making for a faster, more punkish prelude to some of the band's ballads, especially Televators. Eunuch Provocateur has a lot of isolated elements to it that would be reworked into Deloused later and I find it really interesting to see the early form of some of these ideas, particularly the outro with its pulsating electronics and spacey guitars that would be reworked into the end of Drunkship of Lanterns later. After feeling as if you've been completely swept up in the music throughout the rest of the song and its nonstop bombardment, this psychedelic jam session serves to wind down nicely and make for a fitting end to this EP. Overall I'd say that Tremulant deserves to have some more attention than it currently gets, as while it might not be as tightly constructed as some of the albums the band would soon put out after, not only is this a great little piece of history that shows how The Mars Volta's roots informed their style moving forward, but it's also just an incredible little album that doesn't really slow down at any point. If you liked Deloused in the Comatorium you'll almost certainly like this as well.

Latest members reviews

2 stars While I do enjoy listening to this EP, I think it offers more of a nostalgia factor than anything. I like the opening track, and while the others are good, the offering on the whole is altogether too inconsistent. It is definitely a break from the sound of At the Drive-In, but it isn't crafted w ... (read more)

Report this review (#192251) | Posted by evantate09 | Sunday, December 7, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The Mars Volta ep Tremulant is a very big and different step from their last band At the drive in, which was a more a Alternative punk band. The took a different direction for the better and this was the start for the Volta, and a good start it was. The sound on this album is no that great and Cer ... (read more)

Report this review (#154212) | Posted by JROCHA | Tuesday, December 4, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars this is an amazing listen. it definately fits in well with De-loused in the band's first period of music. while it does retain alot of ATD-I's quick hardcore punk style it does add in alot more progressive guitar riffs and organ and keyboard work, which is the main thing that sets the early TMV apar ... (read more)

Report this review (#85611) | Posted by | Thursday, August 3, 2006 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Don't let this be what you judge The Mars Volta by. Fans of TMV's material will be able to appreciate this EP, though I doubt they will come to love it. Fans of At The Drive-In will probably be more pleased with this than us proggers. That's not to see that it doesn't have its moments though. ... (read more)

Report this review (#84034) | Posted by Equality 7-2521 | Tuesday, July 18, 2006 | Review Permanlink

3 stars On Tremulant, The Mars Volta finally get all that hardcore out of their systems. This EP is a portrait of an artistic transformation in process. Omar's guitar work in "Cut that City" is more reminiscent of the post-hardcore of At the Drive-In than the art-symphonic prog-latin-punk-hardcore-wh ... (read more)

Report this review (#76768) | Posted by nursethisviper | Sunday, April 30, 2006 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I have a whole lot of trouble rating this album a 3 out of 5. I feel it's a very strong release, and there's very little to complain about. That being said, this album is not nearly as progressive as De-loused in the Comatorium or Frances the Mute. The opening track, "Cut that City", starts wit ... (read more)

Report this review (#68356) | Posted by I|I|I|I|I | Saturday, February 4, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Wow...for a debut EP this is absolutely amazing. Three very stellar tracks provide the basis for this album, which definately has some ties with deloused story-wise. Let's move on. The first track CUT THAT CITY begins with some now typical ambience ad drums until it suddenly explodes into a ... (read more)

Report this review (#59179) | Posted by | Sunday, December 4, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Great EP. I found it on accident while on a hiatus through Atlanta. Cut that City - 8/10 - Great song, the dub/electronica intro is really interesting, but sort of doesn't fit. However, the explosion into the body of the song is spectacular. Concertina - 9/10 - Great ballad type song. I like ... (read more)

Report this review (#41979) | Posted by seabre | Monday, August 8, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The debut EP from the Mars Volta is an excellent springboard for anyone who's looking to get into the band. It shows off the bands best qualities, most of which are present on their follow-up release, as well as some of the problems that plauge their latest release, Frances the Mute. The alb ... (read more)

Report this review (#31084) | Posted by alan_pfeifer | Tuesday, April 12, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Well, technically this was their first release (not deloused) so it was our first sample of things to come. They really didn't raise the bar to much with this release, but did turn some heads with some powerful drumming and radical guitars. The 2 things that this established were 1- they aren' ... (read more)

Report this review (#31082) | Posted by | Saturday, March 12, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is one of the best EPs ive ever heard. This 28 minutes of music is a must have for any fan of prog rock or music in general. Its powerful, moving, and spaced out. Complete with all the normal MARS VOLTA drugged out, phsycedelic, spacey sounding music this album is essential for any fan ... (read more)

Report this review (#31081) | Posted by bobthesalesman | Thursday, February 24, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This is a really good EP to get if you liked "De-loused in the Comatorium". 'Cut that city' has a little bit of a slow intro but it's an interesting little ditty. 'Concertina' could probably have made it onto De-loused. The vocals are a little...slumpy but it's still a great piece, especia ... (read more)

Report this review (#31079) | Posted by Hambone | Sunday, May 30, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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