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Omar Rodriguez-Lopez - Despair CD (album) cover

DESPAIR

Omar Rodriguez-Lopez

 

Eclectic Prog

1.78 | 23 ratings

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Mick Haldane
2 stars Being a big fan of The Mars Volta, naturally I'd like to hear all of Omar Rodriguez-Lopez's solo albums and side projects as well. So I picked this up very recently and gave it a spin. Firstly, can I say that I have no problem with artists and musicians who decide to carry out full-on experiments. Some of the finest bands in the history of rock and prog have had experimental and/or ambient side projects to complement their more structured or melodic works. But in doing so it's perhaps necessary to accept that sometimes the experiment will work, and other times it just won't. This is a case in point where the experiment falls short, at least from this listener's point of view. That doesn't make it a failure - if this was what ORL intended then it can't be, and to some listeners (probably not many on this site though) it could be judged a success. What we have, for the duration of the lp, is a low-key ambient drone somewhere in the distant background, with irregular, skittering drumbeats from a drum machine superimposed on top. And that's about it.

I bought this on vinyl and my advice would be, if you're going to buy this you might be better off with the CD. The reason I say this is that for most of the record I thought the needle was stuck, such was the level of endless repetition. But I resisted the temptation to get up and give the needle a gentle push and sure enough, it wasn't stuck at all. It's just that this is what this album sounds like, all the way through. Although perhaps even with the CD you might start to think your CD player's malfunctioning. But it's not. And by the way, my vinyl copy is on white vinyl, and in my experience any coloured vinyl tends to be more prone to sticking than regular black vinyl - but the needle didn't stick at all.

Fans of extreme left-field ambient/electronica might get into this, but it's certainly not prog. A real disappointment for me, and I can't see myself listening to this one too often, but it won't stop me from buying other ORL releases. In fact, I also bought 'Megaritual' this week and although I haven't yet posted a review of it on this site, it consists of some extremely well played guitar and sounds not unlike the Mars Volta but without vocals - it's a superb album which I'd recommend very highly. If you're going to buy any recent ORL releases, avoid 'Despair' and go for 'Megaritual' instead - probably as good as 'Apocalypse...' and coming close to TMV's albums in terms of quality.

Mick Haldane | 2/5 |

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