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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
The Mars Volta
Bootleg EP
not released

Rating: NR/10 ?

October 1, 2004
I read my first negative review of The Mars Volta's new album, De-loused in the Comatorium, the other day. I was kind of glad to see it. Not because I dislike them, I don't. Not because their imminent and probable success bothers me, it doesn't. Not because they were supposed to tour with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, good for them. It's just that certain albums come out by certain bands (Radiohead, Grandaddy, Wilco, Flaming Lips - I am looking at all of you) and critics go apeshit over them regardless of their actual quality. We critics are a breed who very easily fall into preprogrammed taste patterns, and when an album is supposed to be hot shit, we listen to it with ears that perk up at the slightest scent of feces. Now I haven't yet heard the album, but this collection of five demos is nice and if the album is anything like them, which it probably is to some degree, I will probably like that as well. And if I were to write a review of that album I would do my best to look at its actual merits instead of its assumed ones. But I'm only human.

So why did Bixler and company release this collection of demos? It is supposed to be an exclusive release, I assume only sent to those 'selected to experience the early workings' as stated on the press release, probably all members of the media. So I don't know if any of you lower non-reviewer people can actually get your hands on this. Of course, you can probably download them or copy the disc from someone, which I strongly advocate now that they are recording for a major (I only oppose such practices regarding indie labels). Hopefully there isn't any anti-copyright technology on The Mars Volta's album like there is entrenched the Broken Social Scene CD, damn them! Such a good album too... but I digress.

What we have here are five tracks, one of which is the 'final master 03' version and the rest of which are demos to varying degrees. "Drunkship of Lanterns" appears as a final mix and rough recording, and you can definitely tell which is which. The demo version is half the song the final is and it contains little or none of elements like the acoustic intro with electronic flares and the strange latin-rhythmic patterns, Cedric's vocals almost taking on Bjork-like qualities as he effortlessly flies above the guitars. The first track, a demo cut of "This Apparatus Must Be Unearthed," its title recalling At The Drive-In lyrics, is one of the standouts. The effects are laid on so thick, presumably due to the hand of recently and sadly deceased sound manipulator Jeremy Ward, and the band takes on Blood Brothers screams and loud and soft prog patterns. Screams aren't really accurate though as Cedric's singing is some of the most melodic I have ever heard from his throat. "Eunuch Provocateur," which appeared on the Tremulant EP, also appears here in rough form, Omar's guitars full of life and discordant whines.

These demos do prove that The Mars Volta are onto something innovative and progressive here, a complete opposite direction from that taken of Sparta, the other ATDI spawn. So yes, I am sold and I would like to laud De-loused in the Comatorium as the best record of the year without even having ever heard it. It's my right; I review records.

Reviewed by Jonah Flicker
Jonah Flicker writes, lives, drinks, eats, and consumes music in New York, via Los Angeles. He once received a fortune in a fortune cookie that stated the following: "Soon, a visitor shall delight you." He's still waiting.

See other reviews by Jonah Flicker



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