Monday, March 26, 2012

Malkin Jewel - The Mars Volta

by Keelan Freitag

As a long-time fanatic, I usually describe The Mars Volta to friends as a modern day Led Zeppelin, with hints of Yes and Zappa, but produced in a more cinematic form.  Thirty minute long interludes of Cuban cricket chirps separate two (and I hate this word, but this calls for it) epic journeys of mixed time signatures, dissonant solos and intense builds in their album Francis the Mute, released in 2005.

The bands newest record, Noctourniquet, hit shelves last week and has had mixed reviews.  In the 70s prog rock style, The Mars Volta has changed with each album and fans seem to be unsure if they like this new direction.

The first single released before the album dropped was Malkin Jewel.

Seen pictured above, guitarist Omar Rodriguez Lopez and singer Cedric Bixlar-Zavala (or whatever...weird names right?) have been life-long friends, having grown up in El Paso together.  They gained critical acclaim after the formation of their post-hardcore experimental band, At The Drive-In.  After ATDI dissolved, some members formed Sparta, while Cedric and Omar started The Mars Volta.

Prior to ATDI, Cedric and Omar recorded psychedelic dub tracks under the band name De Facto.  The Volta's newest track sounds to me like a mixture of ATDI and De Facto.

Youtuber, JaminMr, had this to say about the song:

"TMV, regrettably, has drastically evolved since de-loused and Frances [The Mute].  I see them gravitating more towards new age punk and hardcore genres.  The first half of the song was weak, following a simple, ska-like chord progression, the singing has so much less range than their earlier material, a lack of distinct basslines...I hope this song does not reflect the quality of the album."

Cedrics lyrics have always been cryptic and there is the cinematic feel to the piece, where the first 'A' section (the simple 'ska-like' progression) builds into a raucous climax in the 'B' section.  There is not the same complexity, however, that has been the staple of their previous albums.  The energy and hallucinogenic feel to their music has evolved into something more: you can almost imagine the broadway play set this piece.

Many critics, however, say this is the best TMV album to date.

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