Omar Rodríguez-López, co-leader of experimental prog band the Mars Volta, recently announced a massive box set of his solo material, the 57-LP Amor de Frances. The career-spanning collection includes two unreleased albums—one of which, Is It the Clouds?, SPIN is premiering below in full.
The 10-track record—which features the first material he recorded in 2018, after “taking a big break from recording”—showcases the songwriter at his most compact, exploring shadowy art-pop and sparse acoustic balladry. In a statement, Rodríguez-López says the music originated from a place of grief, though the final tone is a bit more nuanced than you might think.
“The record has a lot to do with the passing of my mother, but it is not as brutal as it would have been if I had done it back when she actually died,” he says. “The sound of the album is pretty uniform, but the record has a bipolar feeling. That’s the paradox that is on this record, you’re losing the place where you came from, and while thinking that this will destroy you, exactly the opposite happen: You finally feel like a human being for the very first time. To have finally have this feeling was the last gift she gave me.”
Is It the Clouds? is available on Amor de Frances and as an upcoming standalone vinyl LP, out Friday (Jan. 19). Additional info and pre-orders are available at the Clouds Hill website.
The box set follows a flurry of Mars Volta news. In 2022, Rodríguez-López and Cedric Bixler-Zavala released The Mars Volta, their first album under that name since 2012. They followed last year with Que Dios Te Maldiga Mi Corazón, a full acoustic reworking of the self-titled record. In October, Clouds Hill Films premiered Omar & Cedric: If This Ever Gets Weird, a documentary about the duo’s decades-long creative bond.