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Mars Volta
"De-loused in the Comatorium"
by: Sun-J

Travel back a few years, and the punk scene is buzzing with word of the next Nirvana stationed out in El Paso, Texas. Five kids with enough energy and charisma to power their genre to mainstream success (which was done eventually). Though, some things are too good to last. Well known and potential labeled band, At The Drive In prematurely split up, perhaps because those two, weird, crazy haired guys in the front playing guitar, dancing around singing weren't able to play the completely tangent sound they wanted too. The fellas in the back ended up outfitting the respectable emo band Sparta, while the two kids up front, singer Cedric Bixler, and lead guitarist Omar Rodriguez created Mars Volta, and released their debut LP De-loused in the Comatorium. Before I delve any deeper into this review, let me first off state that Mars Volta is not At The Drive In. Their sounds are as different as night and day, as similar as Christina Aguilera and a Mormon. De-loused in the Comatorium, is a tribute to the life of Julio Venegas, a high school friend who spent the majority of his life shooting up so much, in fact one of his arms was unfunctionable from accidentally shooting up rat poison. Julio unfortunately committed suicide during a band practice. Unlike many concept albums today, De-loused in the Comatorium is a deep journey in the life of a man who's fallen into a coma where he fantasizes about emotional highs only to awake and choose to die rather than live.

The album as a whole is an hour of rich, intricately scaled, multifaceted insomniac instrumentation that morphs into a transcendental soundscape of lush harmony as it envelops the stretches of Cedric's elastic voice. Many of the songs are drudgingly similar, yet they bring peacefulness to the body. The album opens up with a quiet intro called "Son Et Lumiere" which begins with an eccentric swirling keyboard coinciding with a gentle guitar effect. Bixler goes on the belt out a single verse of near unintelligible lyrics. The final part of the song loops a translucent pulsation from the drums and bass that eventually pans out. This is pretty much how all the songs are developed throughout the album. "Eriatarka" displays Cedric's full vocal range while "The Apparatus Must be Unearthed" provides a cosmic whirly guitar, touched vocals and an Indian fused free-jazz drum beat. "Drunkship of Lanterns" is heavy on the percussion and the guitar work of guest John Frusciante on "Cicatriz ESP" is memorable. The whole album speaks moments of prog rock with all the jazz fusion and freakydela, yet if I were forced to place these characters in a certain genre; it would most certainly have to be Opera Rock. Despite the similarity between songs, De-loused in the Comatorium's musical motives are pleasant and hypnotizing.



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