Mars Volta, 'De-Loused in the Comatorium' (Strummer/Universal)

9
De-Loused in the Comatorium
Critical Mass
Label: Strummer/Universal

by Andrew Beaujon

At the Drive-In are dead. And while neither of their splinter groups--Sparta and the Mars Volta--are exactly dancing on the corpse's ashes, the Mars Volta are trying their best to make the funeral funky. But they're not doing it by writing anything that resembles a traditional groove or by enlisting Flea to play bass--though, yes, that happened, and yes, it helps. No, the funkiness of Messrs. Omar A. Rodriguez-Lopez and Cedric Bixler-Zavala largely depends on them torturing the English language in ways Fred Durst could only dream of. They shout lines like "Exoskeletal junction at the railroad delayed!" with enough conviction to convince almost anyone it's a reasonable thing to say during a song's chorus.Like last year's Tremulant EP, the songs on De-Loused in the Comatorium are built from dense blocks of punk, psychedelia, and blues rock. Bixler-Zavala's falsetto skims across the congas and snapping bass of "Drunkship of Lanterns" in a genuinely exciting way, even when, somewhere around the seven-minute mark, he starts screaming, "Carpel jets / Hit the ground." And on the 12-minute-long "Cicatriz ESP," when Rodriguez-Lopez's guitar line dissolves into dubby echoes for a few minutes, and then Flea and drummer Jon Theodore thunder back in, it sounds like music made by robots that don't know prog rock sucks, which means it flat-out rules. This is a record that creates tension from the cryptic and release from the inexplicable, and it's guaranteed to blow up the transmitter of any radio station that even attempts to play it.

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