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THE MARS VOLTA

Heavy Prog • United States


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The Mars Volta picture
The Mars Volta biography
Formed 2001 in Los Angeles, USA - Disbanded in 2012

Formed in 2001 after the demise of hard-rock outfit AT THE DRIVE-IN, THE MARS VOLTA was put together by ex-AT THE DRIVE-IN members Cedric Bixler (vocals) and Omar RODRIGUEZ (guitar). Those two then recruited Juan Alderete on bass, Ikey Owens on keyboard, and Jon Theodore on drums, as well as Jeremy Ward, who contributed sound effects. While other ex-AT THE DRIVE-IN members continued on the path of their predecessor with punk/emo band SPARTA, THE MARS VOLTA expanded the sound that they had previously forged, venturing often into extended explosions of free jazz and psychedelic jamming throughout their songs. That said, they still stayed true to their roots as a hard rock band, and while they are listed as art-rock, they could fit under several different genres. Their debut was 2002's "Tremulant" EP, but their reputation was built over their staggering live shows. The group received recognition opening for the RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS, as bassist Flea proclaimed them to be the best opener he'd ever had. However, not all was well. Ward died from a drug overdose on May 25th, 2003. The band continued on without him though, and their first full-length album "De-Loused in the Comatorium" was released two months later. This brooding record is a concept album about the band's friend Julio Venegas, who went into a coma and experienced amazing things. However, he then snapped out and couldn't take the return to reality, proceeding to take his own life.

If you aren't a fan of louder music, steer clear of them. They may have evolved beyond AT THE DRIVE-IN, but they still show hints of that hardcore/punk style that they had previously mastered, and this may bother some people. The vocals are also a bit over the top, and could easily scare some people off. They make some very good music though, and it should appeal to most prog fans.

- Bryan Adair

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THE MARS VOLTA discography


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THE MARS VOLTA top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.19 | 1283 ratings
De-Loused in the Comatorium
2003
4.06 | 970 ratings
Frances the Mute
2005
3.87 | 620 ratings
Amputechture
2006
3.53 | 549 ratings
The Bedlam in Goliath
2008
3.64 | 444 ratings
Octahedron
2009
3.51 | 344 ratings
Noctourniquet
2012

THE MARS VOLTA Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.39 | 45 ratings
Live
2003
2.73 | 114 ratings
Scab Dates
2005

THE MARS VOLTA Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

THE MARS VOLTA Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

THE MARS VOLTA Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.30 | 124 ratings
Tremulant EP
2002
3.63 | 21 ratings
Televators
2003
2.85 | 20 ratings
Inertiatic ESP
2003
3.84 | 48 ratings
The Widow
2005
3.33 | 25 ratings
L'Via L'Viaquez
2005
3.49 | 34 ratings
A Missing Chromosome
2005
4.30 | 45 ratings
Frances the Mute - Single
2005
3.14 | 12 ratings
Viscera Eyes
2006
2.66 | 19 ratings
Wax Simulacra
2007
2.74 | 18 ratings
Candy And A Currant Bun
2008
3.14 | 25 ratings
Cotopaxi
2009
3.41 | 32 ratings
The Malkin Jewel
2012
4.33 | 3 ratings
Blacklight Shine
2022

THE MARS VOLTA Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Amputechture by MARS VOLTA, THE album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.87 | 620 ratings

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Amputechture
The Mars Volta Heavy Prog

Review by danielxv

5 stars This album has grown a lot on me in the last years, positioning itself in second place after De-Loused (of course), on my list of favorite The Mars Volta works. It's a very eclectic album, following the steps of Frances the Mute's on the search for more complex compositions, adding Latin music influences (singing some parts in Spanish, which I love), some post-rock and their traditional post-hardcore imprint. It contains some very aggressive sections with their classic hyperkinetic drums but also with several catchy riffs. My favorite track in the album is Day of the Baphomets, which I can also considerate my favorite of all their discography. Meccamputechture, Tetragrammaton, Vermicide and Asilos Magdalena are killer ones too. The weakest tracks in my opinion are the first and last. Still a 5 stars album for me.
 Frances the Mute by MARS VOLTA, THE album cover Studio Album, 2005
4.06 | 970 ratings

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Frances the Mute
The Mars Volta Heavy Prog

Review by Krav0

1 stars Worst prog album of all time

I actually quite dig At The Drive In, so when I heard that two of the founding members of that band had a prog rock band and that they had made a concept album, I was quite intrigued! I mean, what could go wrong? Well, curiosity killed the cat here folks. Let's begin with what I actually somewhat liked

"The Widow" is the only song here that isn't downright awful until the secound half of the song. It's still not good, because Cedric throws on this horribly awful "seductive" voice style which is really not my thing.

A very minor and a completly subjective issue, but this album dosen't really have any symphonic/classical elements to it at all which kind of bugged me because prog without that important factor can go horribly wrong. And oh dear... it truly truly did here folks! Well it's time to go into why I consider this to be the worst prog album I've ever listened to.

This band plays without any cohesion or strucutre to their music, except for "L'Via L'Viaquez", which has some order to it, the rest of this album is just a manic and insanely chaotic cluster[%*!#]. "Miranda That Ghost Just Isn't Holy Anymore" and "Cassandra Geminni" are the worst offenders here. The last track is quite frankly, the musical equivalent to a torture session. It's long and brutally painful to listen to, where nothing flows togehter well. Metaphorically speaking, this song feels like an alarm bell going off every 30 secounds. I mean it's just extremly stressful to listen to and actually gives me anxeity, and not in a metal way where the song hits me with adrenaline and it fills me with excitment and a feeling of triumph.

Sonically, this album is latin rock mixed in with jazz fushion. If this was more of a instrumental project, it would be way more tolerable. And now that leads me to the worst part of this album and that is the vocals...

And then we have the vocals, I don't know what in the actual [%*!#] happened to Cedric. But he dosen't sing like how he did in At The Drive In. Instead, here Cedric sounds like a slowly dying cat who is getting impaled by a icicle, he is doing this whispering I don't know if he is trying to sound seductive or what, but it sounds awful and makes me feel quite nauesous.

But overall this album is It's way too chaotic and lacks any semblence of a musical structure to it, it just comes out as a complete and utter chaotic and uncohesive mess.

A truly ablysmal display of poorly constructed, head-ache inducing and truly horrendous prog-rock. I truly think this is the worst prog-rock album I've ever had the utmost displeasure of listening to.

Favourite Tracks: The Widow.

Least Favourite Tracks: Miranda That Ghost Just Isn't Holy Anymore, Cassandra Geminni.

1/10.

 Frances the Mute by MARS VOLTA, THE album cover Studio Album, 2005
4.06 | 970 ratings

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Frances the Mute
The Mars Volta Heavy Prog

Review by DangHeck

3 stars Classic Mars Volta, including the associations of not only FLEA and John FRUSCIANTE, but also of then-veteran Art-Rock extraordinaire Roger Joseph MANNING Jr. (JELLYFISH, BECK, LICKERISH QUARTET, IMPERIAL DRAG) on piano. Nothing is made in a vacuum, but I am once again curious of their specifically progressive influences. Love the (current?) modern designation of Heavy Prog for them, as this is a genre very much rooted in the past, in the days when Heavy Metal was simply an Acid Rock offshoot.

Of course replete with perverted and near-classic (see "L'Via L'Viaquez") Latin passages and influence, this album is an unrelenting barrage, through loud and quiet moments alike. And of course, this very unique mix of all of the above is what makes The Mars Volta them. Give 'em hell, lay it back down, ramp it up to 11. That's Mars Volta, for sure. In addition to the obvious Latin flavors, we get electronic and dub passages. All nicely fitted into this package, Frances the Mute.

And also, fans of the modern Prog genre should recognize the second track, "The Widow". It's got the hook, for sure. Great song, really. A modern classic, easily. A sort of LED ZEPPELIN Blues Rock thing, with all its modernist complexities (rolling bass, flailing organ, horns, etc.). A similar effect occurs on "L'Via L'Viaquez" (this track is far more masterful than you may realize upon first glance); it's intense and yet very tactful. What can I say? They were a great band.

I would just like to mention that "Miranda... [long title]" is the clear standout... lowlight on the album. It's low and slow. It's not not Mars Volta, or anything like that haha. It's just not that good. A breather on a heavy, dense album such as this one is probably necessary, but certainly not at 13 minutes' length...

The opening monologue on the first part of "Cassandra Gemini" struck me as a cross between Frank ZAPPA and Tom WAITS. Great effect. The big question with this song was "How necessary was it for them to digitally break this up into 8 parts?" Given its clear weaknesses, in my opinion ("Tarantism", "Plant A Nail...", "Pisacis"), really, quite necessary. Does it make for a weak epic? To me: yep. Again, surprised to see it, but "Plant a Nail..." is a Zeppelin interpolation, no? I wouldn't be able to place it specifically though...

True Rate: 3.5/5.0

 A Missing Chromosome by MARS VOLTA, THE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2005
3.49 | 34 ratings

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A Missing Chromosome
The Mars Volta Heavy Prog

Review by Kempokid
Collaborator Prog Metal Team

4 stars While A Missing Chromosome might be little more than a bootleg compilation of b-sides along with the entire Tremulant EP, this is still without a doubt one of the most interesting bonus track collections I've heard. Not only do the tracks sound interesting and varied, but they're able to paint such a profound representation of the band's journey up to this point. The EP tracks at the start show off the post-hardcorish beginnings of the band, before things delve further and further into surreal, experimental territory that showcases the band's ability to craft detailed, evocative soundscapes. Say what you will about Bible and the Breathalyzer, some might consider it an unsuccessful experiment, but it still feels very clear that the band had the ability to move far away from those more immediate, instantly catchy and frenetic tracks from their earlier days. A Plague Upon Your Hissing is especially interesting as well thanks to the fact that it feels like a first draft of one of their most harrowing and amazing songs, Day of the Baphomets, channelling this sense of manic, anxious energy but with a distinctly heavier edge here than on the final version of the track. Frances the Mute also manages to be just as great as most of the album by the same name, so to miss out on such a masterpiece is doing a disservice if you're anything of a Mars Volta fan. So once again, despite the fact that this is a bootleg compilation of songs, it's honestly really worth a listen if you're a fan of the earlier works of the band, extremely effective as a standalone and even more effective as yet another piece of history.

Best tracks: Frances the Mute, Concertina, A Plague Upon Your Hissing

Weakest tracks: Ambuletz

 Scab Dates by MARS VOLTA, THE album cover Live, 2005
2.73 | 114 ratings

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Scab Dates
The Mars Volta Heavy Prog

Review by Kempokid
Collaborator Prog Metal Team

1 stars The idea of letting a band as wildly creative as The Mars Volta go completely all out in a live setting sounds frankly incredible on paper, seeing what sorts of surreal jamming can be done to build upon some of their pre-existing material. Unfortunately, what ends up happening on Scabdates is the band completely losing themselves in the process with these long stretches of meandering nonsense that seems to have a total lack of grounding. This is just an all around awful live album for the most part, not just in terms of the compositions themselves being all over the place, but even in terms of the performances themselves. Nobody here seems to be anywhere near in top form, with the instrumentation feeling very messy and Cedric's vocals making him sound like he's half asleep and just going through the motions. The songs themselves rarely benefit from their extended runtimes either, with the additions feeling extremely redundant for the vast majority of the time and not even really lining up with anything else they try to achieve, feeling entirely disconnected from the core that's being built off. Not entirely worthless since you've got parts 2 and 3 of Cicatriz which do in fact work really well, extending things in a more natural way and even including a bit of David Bowie's Ashes to Ashes, which was a very charming moment, but then it ends up devolving into 20 minutes of weird effects and field recordings and goes back to the negatives. I guess this just shows what happens when a band just gets a bit lost in their own madness and self-indulgence, because this ends up having next to none of the appeal that the band typically would have.

Best tracks: Concertina, Cicatriz part 2 and 3

Weakest tracks: Abrasions Mount the Timpani, Caviglia, Cicatriz part 4

 Tremulant EP by MARS VOLTA, THE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2002
3.30 | 124 ratings

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Tremulant EP
The Mars Volta Heavy Prog

Review by Kempokid
Collaborator Prog Metal Team

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.

 Octahedron by MARS VOLTA, THE album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.64 | 444 ratings

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Octahedron
The Mars Volta Heavy Prog

Review by Gallifrey

4 stars Listening diary 16th July 2021: The Mars Volta - Octahedron (progressive/art rock, 2009)

Their most accessible, and yet bizarrely their most under-appreciated album. I suppose that sums up The Mars Volta's audience for you. But as someone who always loved their hooks more than their 10-minute psych jams, I can really get down with this one. The focus on more concise tracks really bears fruit, with both the rocking numbers and the frequent ballads having some of the band's most memorable melodic lines. It really goes to show just how talented they are at making songs catchy, even if they spent half of their career before this obscuring that fact. Some of the sheer ridiculousness I love in these guys is missing here, but I don't think it's a bad thing they made a record like this. Some restraint is good every now and then.

8.0 (7th listen)

Part of my listening diary from my facebook music blog - www.facebook.com/TheExoskeletalJunction

 De-Loused in the Comatorium by MARS VOLTA, THE album cover Studio Album, 2003
4.19 | 1283 ratings

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De-Loused in the Comatorium
The Mars Volta Heavy Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

5 stars In the world of progressive punk = pronk, perhaps nobody pulled it off better and more dramatically than THE MARS VOLTA. Sure the Cardiacs may have popularized the unthinkable fusional possibilities but at the heart of their sound was a zolo art pop approach that took catchy infectious melodies and nerded them out big time. THE MARS VOLTA on the other hand went for the prog jugular with highbrow concept albums and sprawling soundscapes that mixed post-hardcore, psychedelic rock, progressive electronica and even Latin jazz. The band seemed to have come from nowhere with its lauded debut DE-LOUSED IN THE COMATORIUM which despite almost no promotion still managed to make the top spot on favorite lists when it arrived in 2003 from its sheer boldness to take prog and punk to incredible new heights.

Riding the wave of the 90s prog revival that flourished, El Paso, TX based THE MARS VOLTA arose from the ashes of the up and coming post-hardcore band At The Drive-In, which was at the verge of crossing over into the mainstream but the bored duo of vocalist and lyricist Cedric Bixler-Zavala along with guitarist Omar Rodríguez-López grew tired of their bandmates unwillingness to experiment and instead opted to go it alone. THE MARS VOLTA spent the next 13 years releasing one mind-altering experimental album after another beginning with what many consider their best, the abstractly titled DE-LOUSED IN THE COMATORIUM. While this duo's former bandmates would form the post-hardcore Sparta and dwell in the world of generic uninventiveness, Bixler-Zavala and Rodríguez-López were hell bent for leather to craft some of the most bizarre constructs of psychedelic post-hardcore enveloped in the reverie of classic 70s prog extremities.

This is one of those albums that has just as bizarre of a story behind it as the music presented. While the song titles, lyrics and overall themes are just as abstract and surreal as the album cover art, the album's concept revolves around the tale of Cerpin Taxt, a man who enters a week-long coma after overdosing on a mixture of morphine and rat poison and is indirectly dedicated to the death of Bixler-Zavala's friend Julio Venegas who was an El Paso artist. Ironically the album coincided with the death of another close friend and collaborator Jeremy Michael Ward who was a founding member of THE MARS VOLTA as the sound manipulator that gave the band that extra edge over the competition much in the vein of other production rich artists like Porcupine Tree and Riverside. Ward was found dead after a heroin overdose which was the moment when the due of Bixler-Zavala and Rodríguez-López took a cold hard look at their own drug habits and went cold turkey. The duo henceforth put its energy into crafting material for THE MARS VOLTA which apparently paid off.

While Bixler-Zavala and Rodríguez-López would be the only two consistent members and main creative contributors to THE MARS VOLTA, this debut showcases what was truly a band effort with Jon Theodore on drums, Isaiah Owens on keyboards, a guest appearance of Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers on bass and is the only album to feature the now deceased Jeremy Michael Ward who produced the myriad effects and sound manipulations. The album also found extra help from Lenny Castro providing the Latin jazz percussion, John Frusicante also of the Red Hot Chili Peppers contributing additional guitar parts and synthesizers and acoustic bass parts from Justin Meldal-Johnson. The album also attracted a ridiculous amount of producers mixing and mastering personal as well as the legendary Rick Rubin joining Rodríguez-López in the producer's seat. In other words, there was a LOT of effort put into this densely packed hour's run of fine-crafted musical output and the efforts were quite triumphant in their delivery.

Although the simplified formula of THE MARS VOLTA is to juxtapose brash post-hardcore guitar riffs, bantering bass grooves and a tumultuous percussive drive that sat equidistantly between metal and punk, the band excelled at filling the connective tissue of transitions with extremely psychedelic and surreal electronic motifs that completely broke free from Earth's gravitational pull and took a trip into the spaced out world of artists such as Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze. While sonically oft tied to the post-hardcore of At The Drive-In, the lay out of the composiitons was much more akin to the heavyweights of 1970s progressive rock thus earning THE MARS VOLTA as one of the best newer prog bands to usher in the 21st century for its innovative approach that actually suited the oft abused term 'progressive.' Add to that the emo bellowing wails of Bixler-Zavala's vocal style and you're in for one unique musical experience.

While the above mentioned formula straddles the album's hour long run, the 12 minute plus 'Cicatriz E.S.P.' takes things even further as the opening proggy post-hardcore beginning morphs into one of the most surreal electronic free floats into the astral plane outside of that famous deleted scene from Avatar. This truly is one of the most unique albums of the 21st century that runs the gamut from highly pyroclastic displays of post-hardcore orotundity to the saucerful of secrets escape from reality that takes a ride on the astral side and craft some of the trippiest electronic sequences since the early Krautrock and progressive electronic scenes of decades prior. THE MARS VOLTA was by no means an easy band for me to get into. Bixler-Zavala's vocal style is very much an acquired taste and although the music has always resonated especially in the complex compositional approach, the vocals took me a lot longer to jive with but after the proper acclimation i find they actually serve the music quite well and keep it in the world of totally unique and idiosyncratic. True that DE-LOUSED IN THE COMATORIUM may seem weird for the sake of weirdness but after considerable attention paid to the details, i can only glean a inexplicable admiration for the amount of detail to every single second of this album's run. In other words, this is a utterly brilliant!

 Frances the Mute by MARS VOLTA, THE album cover Studio Album, 2005
4.06 | 970 ratings

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Frances the Mute
The Mars Volta Heavy Prog

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars I'm so glad for the existence of THE MARS VOLTA! Between they and any Toby Drive project, progressive rock is safe moving forward along its rougher edges. In his review of the same album, Neu!man made reference to two albums that I think of every time when I listen to TMV: YES "Relayer" and IL BALLETTO Di BRONZO's "Ys"--two if the most amazing boundary punching albums ever to grace the "classic prog" scene. The raw and sonically mind-twisting TMV debut, "De-Loused in the Comatorium," coupled with this more-"controlled" chaos and frenzy here in "Frances the Mute" put TMV in that rarified company of innovators and, thus, true members of the moniker "progressive" rockers. I must add that I'm quite often hearing the spirit and genius of early LED ZEPPELIN in these compositions as well--which is such a refreshing sound to hear and feeling to have once more. (There was only ONE Led Zeppelin!) Though I will not be posting song-by-song, moment by moment commentary in this review (I hope to add that later) I will say that my first attempt to sit through all 77 minutes of this music met with a resounding success; I was glued to my seat, reveling in each and every moment, fully engaged and feeling every nuance and layer of the onslaught I was bathing myself in. Wondrous from start to finish (and around again we go!) (And so I did!) Maturity? Sanity? Clarity? Sobriety? Freedom? Unbound Joy? transformation? Transcendence? Reinventing oneself? I don't know the secret to The Mars Volta's evolution from De-Loused to this one but it is, to my mind, radical as well as a step in the right direction. I have no qualms proclaiming Frances The Mute as a true masterpiece of progressive rock and a sign that the wild and adventurous spirit of contained nuclear fission is alive and well in 21st Century prog. Praise the Lord!
 Tremulant EP by MARS VOLTA, THE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2002
3.30 | 124 ratings

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Tremulant EP
The Mars Volta Heavy Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

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.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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