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  • Writer's pictureR’nR With Rylo

Spin #92 : The Mars Volta : The Mars Volta


Welcome to our 92nd Sunday drop from the R'nR with Rylo collection! The weather can't bloody make up it's mind lately and they keep threatening us with heatwaves over 40' and storms. Thankfully the days haven't quite been that hot but the mugginess hasn't been making it nice to sleep at night for us and our children. Also the lawns and gardens have been growing like crazy and looks a bit like Jumanji. I'm waiting for a lion to be laying on our bed and a crazy bearded man running around in a leaf outfit. The hot weather does help though when listening to music that gets you up and dancing and that is exactly what we have this week to spin from the R'nR collection. This week we have been travelling for Christmas to see family and creating some more adventures to discuss in future spins.

For now grab yourself a refreshing drink this Christmas Eve and get ready to dance around, maybe even grab your loved one and salsa around. Trust me, this album is a nice change of pace from the band and I respect that they are still the same band, but have a different sound. Did the Beatles make Please Please Me for all of their records? No. So get ready to listen to this Pop/Rock album - the self-titled album from The Mars Volta. I think this week I will show our kids and Night Kat Kiz this album on our loungin set-up. The range of speakers and cooler room will help us hear everything that this album has to offer. This pressing and the production is of a high quality and I wouldn't expect anything less from Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and Clouds Hill. I don't know which song is my favourite yet because everytime that I listen to the album I find myself changing my choice.

We also had a hiccup with the podcast. They want to charge a pretty penny on a monthly basis to keep our subscription. We will work out a way to have it uploaded again and if we can make the episodes on a more frequent basis, we will pay the monthly fee. I'm excited to show you all what we discussed on episode 3 but please be patient. We are a mum and dad operation who work and have two children 5 years and under. Thanks for each of you who have reached out with positive words and you will be rewarded very soon with our return episode.

Image: Cedric and Omar

Now It's time to #dropthestylus on the self-titled album by The Mars Volta. Have you got yourself a copy? Are you still deciding whether to get this album or the follow up acoustic version? If you can spare $80-90, buy both and experience the different styles for yourself. I honestly don't know which album I prefer to listen too and that creates a healthy debate as to which version of the album is better.

Across this album there are recording artists from the studio sessions that have been replaced currently for the touring cycle. The bass guitar of Eva Gardner is being covered by Josh Moreau on tour and the drumming of Willy Rodriguez Quinones has been replaced with Linda-Philomene Tsoungui. I wonder which band members will remain or change for any upcoming works. It would be interesting to see an album again with either John Frusciante (Red Hot Chili Peppers fame) or Jon Theodore. I guess it will depend on the musical direction as to what band members they require. If you look up the list of past members, you'll see a who's who of players.

This album marks the reunion of the band after a 10 year hiatus and also a new beginning of sorts. Omar Rodriquez-Lopez has stated that this is the album that they wanted to make at the beginning and now they get a chance to do just that.

The acoustic version of this album was released 7 months after and although has the same songs, has a very different feeling behind it. You can tell that they are making music together again for the fun of it and thriving on not having any expectations to live up to. That's because they are The Mars Volta and don't give a F$#% what people thing they should sound like. I mean they came back after 10 years and created a pop influenced folk record that brings the samba/latin flavour along for the ride. As a music lover and fan of the band, I do enjoy the progression of their sound and it was coming for a while. You could tell that the band was changing all the way back in 2009 on their album, 'Octahedron'. Life is taxing and growth and loss adds a lot to a person. Are you the same person in every aspect that you were in 2009? or even 2019? We just have to be thankful that they decided to come back and make music again. This whent on to become an album in 2022 that I listened to on repeat. Especially as the weather warmed up and I would sit out the back entertaining area with a nice crisp beer in hand.

I love the fact that Omar and Cedric make music for 'The Mars Volta' because they have a passion for it. Omar was quoted as saying, "Is it exciting, does it move me? Is what I'm hearing coming back out of the speakers or just something that makes me dance?". This album has a lot of moments that I might not understand (language) but it's infectious and incredibly refreshing. At the same time there are definite moments that get you jamming along like the progressive rock days of old. It also has a culmination of 'At the Drive-In' and 'Antemasque' influences throughout and you can tell this pair especially, are so much more aware of the world.

The opening song is like walking up the stairs to a sea side hotel and finding the door slightly ajar. You push through the open gap enough to see the coastline view in the distance and a nice cold drink waiting for you out on the balcony. The birds are chirping and the breeze is just enough to take the mugginess out of the tropical weather. You find yourself a comfortable chair to watch the waves crashing along the shore and close your eyes. It really does feel that relaxing and I've found this album to be very accessible to casual fans or completely new fans. Let the drums take you on an adventure as we get swept away by this song.

'BLACKLIGHT SHINE' obviously talks about the literal meaning of the title - a blacklight globe being used to shine over a surface or person, uncovering all that is hidden to the naked eye. Are there people in life that appear complete or content, only to find out that they were living off 10 x credit cards and scamming others? Definitely. It doesn't matter what others may be doing as long as you and your own are in check. Being appreciative of where we are at as a family right now and understanding that not all plates can be spun at once.

Karma or the return serve of life has a funny way of catching up to you and I feel sorry for people who go through life thinking that it's ok to tread on people. Reminds me of that Metallica song, 'Don't Tread on Me' from their self-titled album. Similar to this album in that sense because they wanted to start again musically. The Mars Volta have lost some mates along the way, especially in those early days of the band. I think the favourite part of this song is singing along to the lyrics that I don't know the translation for yet - "Lastimado sentimiento en mi cinturita. Dame rabia, dame todo el dolor. Karma tarda en Ilegar pero Ilegara. Lo vas a pagar". They fit so well with the music and gets my foot tapping along every time that I hear it. Something else about this album that makes it quite fun is the length of songs being a lot shorter compared to their other studio albums. The Mars Volta are known for getting swept up in the moment and jamming for what seems like an endless amount of time but on this album, that isn't the case.

If there was a title on this album that makes me intrigued just by the title, it would be 'GRAVEYARD LOVE'. No, it isn't a song about people having sex in the graveyard underneath the moonlight. It's a song about loss and reflection and one that continues the easy listening style of the album. There was a nice moment during the week where our daughter wasn't able to sleep because of a stomach bug. She wanted hugs at 0400 and I almost fell asleep rocking back and forth at the edge of her cot. I didn't realise until her little arm and head dropped down beside me, letting me know she was asleep. 10 minutes later she was crying and in our bed, smothering Night Kat Kiz.

'SHORE STORY' flows through the speakers next and offers a balanced approach to the piano and drums. It's enough to let the listener know that this isn't a simple song construction, nor is it classic Mars Volta. "If I can't escape your hold, just let me go. Let me have this mutiny. And I won't lose this time, reclaiming my night. 'Til the streets run red, I won't let you choose when I die. Regressin' on the dial, If I'm gon' lose my mind, just let me go and let me have this mutiny".

If you wanted some smooth Jazz sounding lounge band with a Puerto Rican flavour, then it continues on next track called, 'BLANK CONDOLENCES'. One of the album's standout moments comes around the 1 minute 10 mark where Omar starts showing his solo talents with the guitar. His sound is his signature and has grown so much in the 20 years of The Mars Volta. The ending of this song starts to get a bit funky too and threatens to break out into a wild frenzy....but shows restraint.

I can't believe that tomorrow is Christmas Day! It has gone so fast and to be honest, this year has really flown by for us in the Rylo household. A lot of change and pressure sure does make time fly. I had another nice moment this week when putting our son into bed and laying with him until he fell asleep. He thought that I was asleep and leant over and kissed me on my cheek while saying, "I love you Dad". He then rolled over and fell asleep and it made me very happy. Our son also had his little graduation ceremony to celebrate him finishing daycare and moving towards primary school next year. As Night Kat Kiz and I were walking into the room there was a picture of our son dressed in a graduation gown and hat, holding a sign saying, "when I grow up I want to be.....a Dad". He then sat the whole time until his name was called up to receive his certificate and pause for a photo. We made sure to have some party snacks and say farewell to some of his teachers before heading home. He had such a big proud smile on his face that I'm certain he fell asleep wearing. I'm writing these moments down so I don't ever forget them.

"The past has a way of coming clean" - Always been a big fan of Cedric's lyricism (even though on one album he claims it wasn't him - check out Spin#12 here). On 'VIGIL' the rhythm is quite ethereal in parts and suits the vocals. A few fans and critics mentioned that this album is front heavy and that they should have spread out the singles over the tracklisting. Tell me, with Slipknot's debut album did they spread out the singles or have them knock you out straight away? Everyone regards that album as an overall iconic album, so why not this one by TMV? I think people don't give enough credit to the album listening experience and that is something that I've learnt over time. People want to listen to the standout song and stop. If that's the case, then don't spin records. The artist makes them for you to experience the whole thing. I'll get to Side B soon but you'd be upset if you missed what the band has to offer later on this album.

I'm not sure if the translation is right for 'QUE DIOS TE MALDIGA MI CORAZON' but it's a short track that means roughly, 'May God curse you my heart'. It is also the name of the acoustic version of this album and leaves an impression, even if the song only goes for 1 minute 41 seconds. I think the song flows well and meets the start of the last song on Side A nicely. It almost feels like one long song when it starts. I've decided that 'CERULEA' would also be my favourite song on the album and it's the closer for Side A.

This song has a really positive feeling behind it. It makes me think a lot about the album, 'Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino' by British band The Arctic Monkeys. Both offer smoother, slower and jazz inspired versions of themselves mid-way through their careers and wanting to do something for them. A song that gives comfort and I feel better each time that I listen to it for some reason. Amazing that a piece of music can have such an effect on someones mind and wellbeing. Our daughter is snacking on some toast and drawing with her textas as we listen along to this one. Her hair has become so long and the curls are slowly lengthening out now. The ending of this song just gets a bit timeless and easy to listen along too, before the stylus comes to the dead wax and lets you know that its time to lift the stylus and flip the LP over.

Side B starts off with 'FLASH BURNS FROM FLASHBACKS' and I think that is such a cool song title. We had our son running into the room on this one and giving me the stank face - the look that lets people know that they are loving the song. It has a quicker tempo on the drums and the bass work adds that depth to the sound that comes through the speakers really crisply. The bass work and iconic guitar of Omar adds so much flavour to the song. Is Omar the next Santana!?! What are some other albums tht you like that sound similar to this style of music?

Did we cross into the realm of folk and LARPing? If you listen closely there is a medieval fair sound filling the room and could be a sythesizer or sampling on 'PALM FULL OF CRUX', I'm not too sure. Probably why I love this band so much is the diversity that they have across their albums. A truely underrated and undercelebrated bunch of artists that should have a lot more publicity on the music scene. The slowness is preparing us for the next track that honestly feels like the 'Antemasque' version of a song coming into play. I love the quickness on 'NO CASE GAIN' and the lyrics. It has some of my favourite lyrics on it and one that you should follow along with on the lyric sheet as you listen. "Someone's out on the wing of a plane, and she's headed for a storm. Clap back, reach my jugular. Are you now succumbing to the silver guilt? You pad my cell".

When people say that Side A is good but not Side B it makes me laugh a little bit. How can you not get lost in the musical offerings that TMV have given us on Side B so far? 'TOURMALINE' continues this with an impactful yet sombre song. Some of the best singing of Cedric's career, I would go as far saying. I've played this quite a few times and the family always look like they are enjoying themselves when they listen along. I didn't know until researching about this album but tourmaline is a crystal that offers grounding and protection, something that I think a lot of us are in desperate need of.

The next song is interesting because I found out there is a 1970's play called Equus. It is about a person who has a religious fascination about horses and seeking treatment for it. Is it directly a reference to this play? I have no idea. But Cedric was embroiled with Scientology over the last couple of years and managed to get out. Is this a loose reference to his time with them? Maybe. 'EQUUS 3' starts of with some proggy sounding beats and synthesizer being used by the band. Almost transporting us to a futuristic sounding world where Herbie Hancock and the Blade Runner movie had a baby. Also has some sounds that remind me of the latest TOOL album (Fear Inoculum). I like the lyric of, "Pain in my heart go away". I hope that my family enjoy their Christmas presents and know that they were given with thoughtfulness and love behind them. If I could give more, I would. If I could change our current circumstances instantly for the better, I would. A movie that always brings things into perpesctive and keeps me grounded is, 'It's a Wonderful Life' starring James Stewart. If you haven't seen it or not watched it for a while, I highly recommend it.

The futuristic sounds continue on the introduction of 'COLLAPSIBLE SHOULDERS' before vocals and drums come in slowly. I think this song reflects the break up that occurred after the Noctourniquet album in 2012. Omar and Cedric had a lot of issues to talk about and I'm glad that they managed to do just that. They are better off together than apart and I feel that this is the band that they truly belong in. They've had other side projects and solo projects but this is the band that let's them both shine. This song sounds really trippy with a decent pair of headphones on and has a lot of layers. Probably something you might not hear if you are playing this one softly.

Finally, we have 'THE REQUISITION'. No it's not about someone in the office creating pre-purchase orders and waiting for approval. The stylus hasn't missed a beat on this pressing and will be one that we will spin here at R'nR over and over. The guitar of Omar on this track shows glimpses of what could possibly be coming on the next Mars Volta album too. I feel that it will be a bit more prog rock and halfway between their Amputechture album and this album. I'd be happy with that and enjoyed that this was chosen as the last song on the album. Cedric has a lot of ammunition for lyrics, like I said before and this one has to be directly about his wife and the Scientology past. I won't go into it on here but if you are intrigued, look it up online to find out more. The last lyrics are - "They keep their fences charging at night, and no one's gettin' out alive. Figures obscure in the frame of fear, you can't stop me (No, no, no). Over your shoulder, is it peace of mind? While you were sleepin', I was setting the fires".

We have reached the end of the album and there is an awful big rabbit hole to go down if you enjoyed what you heard. If you have a spare $2500, you'll be able to order yourself the complete works of Omar Rodriguez-Lopez from Clouds Hill website. It contains 57 albums from his life and a couple that haven't been pressed before on wax. You can buy them seperately too and I will be saving up to add a couple to the collection. There are a lot of interesting soundscapes that he has created over the years and I particularly want to add 'Xenophanes' and 'Old Money' to the R'nR collection. 'Xenophanes' has everyone on it besides Cedric and sounds so much like a TMV record. Make sure you leave the milk and cookies out for Santa tonight, possibly some carrot for the reindeer and get some sleep. Enjoy these moments with your family and friends and don't rush the time away. Merry Christmas from everyone here at R'nR with Rylo! See you for our MWSP and the last spin before the end of 2023.

"It hit me like a hurricane, It hit me like a tidal wave and I don't know why I drown my mind in everything they say. It hit me like a hurricane, It hit me like a tidal wave and I don't know why I drown my mind, it got the best of me" -

I Prevail

Until our next Spin, be Kind to people making progress (except Tottenham Fans) and be Kind to your Wax!











33 1/3 RPM













Favourite lyric:

"If the walls you build come tumblin', tumblin' down and the love you failed to comfort, comes back 'round. At last, I found my moment to fall apart" ~ Cerulea - Side A 



































The Mars Volta performing in 2022

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