Cedric Bixler-Zavala’s talk of a potential At The Drive-In reunion was music to the ears of those who felt the Texan hardcore mob lost their thrilling, life-changing urgency when they split up and subsequently morphed into prog-rock adventurers The Mars Volta.
To punk purists, and those who value lightning flashes of intensity over long-winded experimentalism, The Mars Volta’s vaulting sonic odyssies and high-minded flights of fancy can seem a bit like that Mighty Boosh episode where Rudy the psychedelic monk traverses the desert on an epic quest for the New Sound.
Yet, to the converted, Omar and Cedric’s opaque intellectualism and jaw-dropping productivity (‘Octahedron’ is their fifth studio album in as many years) are qualities that only enhance the aura of other-worldly, freewheeling genius surrounding the band.
New album ‘Octahedron’ is plainly pitched squarely toward those existing devotees. Its song titles – ‘With Twilight My Guide’, ‘Luciforms’, ‘Halo Of Nembutals’ – sound like chapter headings from some dusty, arcane grimoire. ‘Music For The People’ it is not.
The band themselves reckon it’s their “acoustic album”, a claim which – lest you fear the duo have morphed into a Journey South-style cruise-ship folk duo – turns out to be a typical Mars Volta obfuscation. Because, for the most part this album is about as sweetly ‘acoustic’ as Mastodon kicking a wheelbarrow full of pneumatic drills down a spiral staircase.
Although, that said, ‘Since We’ve Been Wrong’ is, to these ears, one of the most placid and straightforwardly beautiful things they’ve ever done. You can hear that track, and seven other songs from ‘Octahedron’ by clicking on the links below. Enjoy…
‘Octahedron’ is out Monday June 22.