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The Mars Volta - Tremulant EP CD (album) cover


The Mars Volta


Heavy Prog

3.25 | 108 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
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.

FruMp | 4/5 |


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