The Mars Volta

Is anyone listening to the Mars Volta at the moment? I see they have a new album out ’ The bedlam in Goliath’. A glance at the track listing does not fill me with confidence - plenty of 7,8 and 9 minute affairs that suggest they continue to be lost in prog rock limbo.

First time I heard ‘deloused’ it put me on my back, staggering sound, at least the first half of it. Take ‘relationship of command’ and stretch the music some, give it more texture whilst maintaining the power and you’ve got my perfect album. They were very close to this with ‘deloused’. It all went pear-shaped then, the prog-rock influence took over and made ‘Frances the mute’ unlistenable for me. I gave their third one a miss. Anyone hanging in there with the Mars Volta and can give a status report?

I heard an interesting report on NPR the other day about this album, referencing a Ouija board and evil spirits floating around in the studio during the recording session!

I saw these guys open for The Red Hot Chili Peppers. I’m clearly not their target audience - I must hate prog rock because these guys were awful. Really awful. Not a good opening band for the Peppers. Then, they came out again at the end of the show and jammed with Flea for the encore, which absolutely killed the show dead. Every ounce of energy and feel-goodness simply vanished, and people were complaining as we exited - not a good sign.

The Peppers were great, but I don’t look back on that show as a good one, simply because of The Mars Volta. Maybe I would’ve liked them more if I were stoned out of my mind, but lord, were they bad. Ick.

I caught them on Letterman recently, and just didn’t “get” them. I’m not sure there were actual words involved.

I love the song that they did a few years ago called The Widow, but really they would do best to get the guys in Sparta to break up and reform At The Drive In which had all of the same arty elements but still stayed within a reasonable song structure.

I saw them open for RHCP too, except the experience was a little different. They basically got booed of the stage when they opened, people were throwing things at them, and when they walked off the stage, the lead singer threw his microphone down and said, “Fuck You!”

About a quarter of the way through the RHCP set, Flea goes, “These guys up on stage are my friends. And you guys out there are my friends. But people who throw things at The Mars Volta are not my friends.”

I guess we were saved from having to listen to an encore jam through the audience’s bad behavior.

I’ve seen them on MTV (when I lived in the dorms there was MTVU, which played videos), and it was completely different. Still not my cup of tea, but I wouldn’t have despised them as an opening act if they had played live some semblance of their studio work. My boyfriend told me that apparently they go out of their way to perform live in an intentionally grating fashion… but I don’t know where he heard it.

I thought they were awful. I also didn’t get them.

Deloused in the Comatorium is probably a top three all time favorite album of mine. Frances- the sum is not as great as the parts, but there are more than a few brilliant moments in there. The drawn out ambient stuff put me off though. The Tremulant EP falls somewhere between the two. After those I was so excited for Amputechture to be made. What a let down. Nothing hooked me like their first two full lengths and I just haven’t been since. I’ll give their new one a chance, but I’m keeping my expectation low this time. They need to bring Rick Rubin back to keep Omar in check.

I do like much of Omar’s solo projects, but he is plagued by the extended, random, ambient noise junk bug here too.

At the Drive-In, is perhaps one of the most under appreciated bands ever. All their albums were brilliant, but Relationship of Command and In Casino Out are classics.

Live, they are very hit or miss. I saw them headline at the Fillmore in Denver, an old church, and that was a fine show, there are also some good concert videos of theirs online(The Electric Ballroom). No doubt though, when they’re bad, they’re quite bad. Letterman was one of these times. While there can be a lot of nonsense in the music, there are also a lot of very intricately composed parts that can get lost in a live show if the acoustics are off. Cedric’s voice was not made for live performances either.