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The Mars Volta - Tremulant EP CD (album) cover


The Mars Volta


Heavy Prog

3.25 | 108 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

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.

James Lee | 3/5 |


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