The Mars Volta Goes Voltron

The Mars Volta Goes Voltron

by Bianca I Laureano

I always wonder what artists are up to after they have released an album and are not on tour. Omar Rodriguez Lopez, of The Mars Volta fame, has released two additional albums this year: Omar Rodriguez Lopez and Jeremy Michael Ward and the Apocalypse of An Orange. These two releases are good examples of what Rodriguez-Lopez does during his “down time” and shows how central making music is to him.

When I first heard Apocalypse Of An Orange I was surprised to be greeted by Rodriguez-Lopez’s take on Afrobeat. The album is filled with horns, percussion and of course strings. I had it playing on my Ipod for a good week before I was ready to write. Several of the songs have these elements, and even today my favorite tracks remain what they were when I first heard them: “Melting Chariots,” “Spared Form The Insult List,” “Coma Pony” and the title track. This album is a hybrid of sorts. I can hear the Mars Volta aspect blended with Rodriguez Lopez’s personal desire to play with the limitlessness of jazz, African and Latin beats and rock. The album is extremely sensual and seductive.

Those eerie elements we love about The Mars Volta, are still present in their self-titled CD Omar Rodriguez Lopez and Jeremy Michael Ward, who was with The Mars Volta until his death in 2003. The flexibility of the duo is clear as they explore the most original sounds you will hear to date. I wouldn’t be surprised if I heard these tracks in Takashi Miike’s next Japanese horror film. Don’t get it twisted, you can’t really dance to these tracks, but don’t sleep on this CD either! There is a ritualistic element to the songs that made me nostalgic. ORL and JMW were very thoughtful in putting these tracks together. Highlights include “Impoverished Beliefs” (both tracks) and “Swell the Ranks.”

If you’ve got a fondness for the uncanny, these two albums are sure to please. You may want to spend some time alone listening to them before you share the treasures, as the intensity of each is undeniable.

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