Quite honestly, I don't know where I can begin to describe The Mars Volta. A quick history on the band will tell you how they came out of the now-defunct seminal punk outfit At The Drive In. In 2002, Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and Cedric Bixler-Zavala wanted to embark on an exploration of the progressive and complex with no regard for the conventional.
While I can go into every detail of how The Mars Volta came to be, I won't. Why? Well, honestly I wouldn't even begin to scratch the surface. It seems that with each release that The Mars Volta gives us, it goes beyond just a challenge of sound. I can only describe it as a weird odyssey with no particular destination.
Or so you think.
With their latest composition, The Bedlam in Goliath (GSL/Universal), The Mars Volta seem to have found a way to create a sonic guide for a séance, complete with unexpected twists and turns that are more suited for a Spanish soap opera.
A bit of history: It seems that during a trip in Israel, Rodriguez-Lopez gave Bixler-Zavala an Ouija board as a gift from a shop in Jerusalem. During their last tour with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, they would head back to their bus and play with Cedric’s new game, which they dubbed the Soothsayer.
Taking a page from their biography page on their website (www.themarsvolta.com ), it goes more in depth on the origins of this record:
The Soothsayer offered them names such as Goliath, Mr. Mugs, Patience Worth, Tourniquet Man. The Soothsayer offers them a story: It’s always about a man, a woman, and her mother. About the lust floating between them. About seduction and infidelity. And pain. And eventually, murder. Entrails and absence and curses and oblivion. Exactly the kind of spooky shit you’d want from your Ouija.
But as Omar-Rodriguez went further into his paranormal explorations-even going as far as to write down words and phrases and use them as lyrical influences--it starts to become too real. Inexplicable equipment issues, a nervous breakdown from their studio engineer and the flooding of Omar's studio were clear cut signs something was afoot within the Volta camp.
With all the bad mojo, Omar-Rodriguez decide to get rid of it, going as far as to bury the board and not making any mention of it during their recording sessions.