On My Record Player Part 6

The Mars Volta – Amputechture (2006)

Ok, this is very special to me. Franics the Mute came out in March 2005, so I had all of that year and half of 2006 to really listen to as much as I could to understand it and hear all the complexities that made that record so unique and when I turned 23 in 2006, my life changed drastically. I quit my job at Olive Garden and I made plans to move to Los Angeles to try to break into show business, or something of the sorts. Well, that p;an didn’t really work out and I think it was for the best. That being said, things just started unfolding. I had one of the greatest summers of my life. I went to many many Washington Nationals games with Dave, Hayden, Dan, Andrea, Martin, Robyn, that whole gang and we just had the time of our life. I was introduced to Trailer Park Boys, a comedic mockumentary that takes place in Nova Scotia Canada that became an obsession of mine, I quickly found a way to watch all 6 seasons of that show through the course of a month or 2. I took care of my dying cockapoo Dash that we got in St. Charles, Missouri in 1989 and was fighting for his life in his 17th year and I was happy to be home most of the time to take the best care of him that I could. Now, going back to the music. Around July of 2006, a leaked version of The Mars Volta’s new album was released on the internet and I couldn’t help myself from downloading it and it became the soundtrack to my crazy life like you could barely imagine during the summer of 2006. Track 2: Tetragrammaton had a huge effect on me. First of all, it is 17 minutes long. It really has a story to tell. The story happens to be about a Romanian nun who told her priest that she was hearing voices from the devil. The priest decided that it was in her best interest to be locked in a room, tied up, un-fed, given some sort of a failed exorcism, and she ended up dying from asphyxiation. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4107524.stm  Mars Volta’s singer Cedric Bixler Zavala was so affected by this story, decided it was his purpose in life to write a song that honored this woman and her experience that was religious, but should have ended more positively. This album really touches on the experience of intense moments that deal with spirituality and examining what is true and real to each person and the unfortunate recurrence of mistreated people from misguided religious leaders. They also touch on the history in America of sacred burial grounds that have been disgraced by industrialist capitalists that have built architecture on land that should have never been affected by. Most of the guitar on the album is recorded by John Frusciante from the Red Hot Chili Peppers who is a good friend of the group. Omar Rodriguez Lopez wanted to focus on the duties of being the Producer of the album. Day of the Baphomets is a really special song that showcases all members of the band flexing their musical muscles and having fun. A great way to recognize this is here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r8YLDb2hiLU Another cool thing about this album was that it was officially released on my friend Nathan Hale’s 21st birthday. We had a nice little keg party up the street from where I live now on that day. This was also the first album to feature artwork by Jeff Jordan who they have used ever since for all their album art. Jordan has a really unique style of surrealism that the Mars Volta guys really connect with when it comes to appropriate imagery to go with the music they make. This is probably the go to album I reccomend for anyone who is curious to hear what Mars Volta is all about.

http://www.allmusic.com 4 out of 5 stars

The Mars Volta are continual contenders for the mantle of most experimental high-profile metal group, along with System of a Down, an artist they’ve toured with but who usually sell 20 times more records. Mars Volta aren’t as popular, not because their riffs are less memorable or innovative but because their cycle of musical buildup and release, although similarly jarring, can last at least 20 minutes instead of System‘s two. (It’s the difference between having a background in acid rock and having one in thrash.) While the early reports on third album Amputechture commented that the duo of Cedric Bixler-Zavala and Omar Rodriguez-Lopez had learned a few lessons about silence and forsaken the concept album, don’t believe it. The album is little different than their two previous atom bombs, De-Loused in the Comatorium and Frances the Mute — tense and anxious, continually pushing the boundaries of extreme production, with long periods of dynamics that rise ever higher, followed by an explosion of release (usually screaming hard rock with storms of atonal brass and horns). The album opens with “Vicarious Atonement,” five minutes of spectral effects and piercing guitar that gets a boost at the beginning of the next track, “Tetragrammaton,” and then blooms into full riffing glory after a few more minutes (and they’re still nowhere near the end of the 16-minute track). John Frusciante, eccentric genius from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, returns on guitar, but Bixler-Zavala and Rodriguez-Lopez exert so much control over the sound of Mars Volta that Frusciante makes virtually no individual impression on this record, although most of the guitar work is his. (Granted, his presence leavesRodriguez-Lopez open for more intricate work on production.) The Mars Volta are one of the most intriguing bands in rock, but their huge musical power is often deflected by Bixler-Zavala‘s conceptual themes (which are difficult to follow, but also, perversely, impossible to ignore) and blitzkrieg dynamics that are either dialed down to one or up to ten (but rarely in-between).


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