Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Mars Volta - De-loused in the Comatorium

I have always been pretty vocal about how much I love this record by The Mars Volta, and how much I dislike everything that came after. I could get into it, but basically it just amounts to the band not going in the direction I really wanted them to. This in no way discredits or lowers my opinion of this album, which I consider to be fucking incredible. You have a blend of musicians, some of them more technically inclined, some more artistically inclined. You put them in a room with Rick Rubin, one of the BEST producers in the last twenty years, and you let them go completely bonkers. This is what happens.

Drum wise this is probably one of the most impressive offerings to come out so far this decade. It's fast, its all over the board stylistically (Jazz, Latin, fusion, metal, punk, African, it's all there) and it's as melodic as it is noisy (and not stupid space noisy like their later records). Jon Theodore was the perfect drummer to play on this album. Not only did he have a bombastic, dynamic touch, he had the endurance to keep up with the rest of the band. There is a part in Roulette Dares (The House Of) where he starts to play a pattern on his toms. He's hitting two toms simultaneously (at a ridiculous speed) and he changes the patterns every four bars. I have always tried to play this part when I practice by myself. I can barely hear the variations in patterns (I can HEAR them, but It's hard to decipher them), and if I can, then I can't keep up with the tempo. My arms turn to jello after a couple measures.

I think that's why I love the drumming on this record so much. I always have a general idea of whats going on, but if I listen closely I'll just keep hearing more and more interesting parts, and I'm always more and more impressed (and confused). His snare work on the Latin infused Drunkship of Lanterns is impeccable (as well as his ride bell accents). Even at high speeds you get the sense that he is hitting the shit out of his drums, and it really ups the intensity. His drum rolls on this record are some of the fastest I've heard and when he holds back he doesn't lose his robotic like time. I've always actually wondered if he is a drug addict. Not street drugs though, I think that he got a hold of some secret government altered Meth originally invented so soldiers could run across landmines without setting them off. He takes it, straps himself to his drum stool, and the curtain opens and he's off. There is no other explanation. Jon Theodore is the Barry Bonds of drumming.

Jon Theodore has since left The Mars Volta (I guess I'm not the only one who thinks they came out swinging and went down in the second round),and has since beeen replaced by another great drummer, Thomas Pridgen. I'm actually pretty excited to see what Theodore will do next. I'd like to see him do some more work with Trans Am.

They never lost the fire, it was always burning since the world's been turning.

Audio/Visual Evidence: Roulette Dares, Drunkship Of Lanterns, Son + Lumiere/Inertiatic ESP

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