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Omar Rodriguez-Lopez - Old Money CD (album) cover

OLD MONEY

Omar Rodriguez-Lopez

 

Eclectic Prog

3.79 | 48 ratings

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Kempokid
4 stars Being a massive fan of the Mars Volta, I've wanted to look into Omar Rodriguez Lopez's solo career for quite a while, but became slightly daunted upon the realisation that his studio discography was one of the most absurdly large ones I was aware of, only surpassed by 'Buckethead' (Note: That I am aware of). After much deliberation about where to begin, I decided to pick from his higher rated works at random, and fell upon his 9th effort, 'Old Money'. This album was apparently written to follow up 'Amputechture', which is quite clear in terms of the very strong resemblance to 'The Mars Volta' heard throughout the majority of the tracks. This to me sounds like an instrumental, more jam focused take on 'The Mars Volta', with more experimentation in the area of soundscapes and atmosphere, having more moments that become extremely chaotic, along with songs that progress very minimally, instead made to capture a particular tone or mood. This is essentially the 'Mars Volta' without Omar being tied down to the notion that his music needs to be liked by a slightly wider audience, in turn allowing for some great creative freedom.

The album starts off very strong with 'The Power of Myth', which if I'm being honest, I actually like more than a large number of Volta songs. The drumming throughout is incredible, with great fill after great fill, being able to so easily slip into brief bursts of energy before falling back onto the beat, constantly keeping time along with energy. This is further made better by the amazing riff that switches from guitar to bass throughout, and is all around a great track. 'Population Council's Wet Dream' is the next notable track, being quite chaotic, yet having the beat constantly return to a triple cymbal crash or bass drum hit on the 4th bar, providing the listener with something to be able to latch onto. Because of this, no matter how chaotic the song becomes, it never becomes too chaotic, as the improvisation of the other instruments is still closely linked to this motif. This allows things to go really far off the rails without it sounding dull or unbearable, as there is always something the listener can pick out, and this interesting little thing makes it one of my favourite songs on the album, along with the overall great groove that the song has. 'Family War Funding (Love Those Rothschilds)' is a faster paced song with a really great climax that makes the fact that the rest of the song is slightly subpar quite tolerable. 'I Like Rockefeller's First Two Albums, But After That...' is a really great track with the kind of danceable groove that could be found on 'Bedlam in Goliath'. Combine this with the stronger Spanish music influence that the band and Omar are known to have, complete with samples of a conversation, spoken in Spanish, further accentuating this identity. 'Old Money' is by far the highlight of this album, having extremely strong melody combined with guitar playing even more excellent than usual with Omar. The fact that it has those slower, spacier sections flesh this song out quite a lot, making it feel like an actual song, rather than an experimental noodling session, and in general sound amazing.

Speaking of experimental noodling session, those aren't necessarily a bad thing, as can be seen in the songs not talked about yet. 'How To Bill The Bilderberg Group', 'Private Fortunes', 'Trilateral Commission as Dinner Guests' and 'Vipers in the Bosom' all fit this description very well, but are mostly worthy compositions. 'How To Bill the Bilderberg Group' isn't anything particularly special, but I do like the eerie tone created by the heavily edited voices and heavy use of various effects, and find it to be interesting, even if not necessarily anything great. 'Private Fortunes' utilises world music instruments and has a much calmer tone to it when put up against the rest of the album, focusing on the really pleasant atmosphere set up, with even the impressive soloing sounding much nicer than usual. 'Trilateral Commission As Dinner Guests' has a structure similar to that of 'CAN', having a simple, repetitive groove or melody, and then simply jamming over it for a few minutes. The big difference here is that this is infinitely more bombastic than anything 'CAN' has done, although it doesn't have the same sort of feeling as 'CAN' does, as you don't feel like the songs could simply go on forever, and is definitely inferior to quite a bit of their work.

There are definitely a couple of weaker aspects to the album, the biggest being the filler tracks of '1921' and 'Vipers in the Bosom', both going basically nowhere and serving no real purpose, ultimately taking me out of the experience briefly. My other issue is that I feel like a few of these songs could have been developed a bit further, as some of them, while sounding good, are kinda underbaked when compared to the amazing heights this album reaches, although if taking away the perspective of this album, just focusing on the tracks themselves, they prove to be quite interesting and good, it's just that it can make the album feel slightly inconsistent at points.

Despite having no vocals and getting somewhat inconsistent in the middle section, this album is genuinely great, being better than both 'Octahedron' and Noctourniquet' in my opinion. While it took me much longer to get into this, due to the stranger qualities of the album, and also because I'm usually not an avid listener of purely instrumental music, I definitely find many songs on this to be of extremely high quality, and have been convinced to look through some more of Omar's gargantuan discography at some point as a result.

Best Songs: The Power Of Myth, Population Council's Wet Dream, Old Money

Weakest Songs: 1921, Vipers In The Bosom, How To Bill The Bilderberg Group

Verdict: More out there than most Mars Volta releases, but definitely has strong resemblances in terms of sound. I'd recommend this to any fan of Amputechture or with the Mars Volta in general, but would definitely recommend you check them out before delving into this one, unless the vocals were your issue with the band.

Kempokid | 4/5 |

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