Classical music is often ignored by most young people(and old people for that matter) today. Whenever people here it, they block it out straight a way. They know what it's going to be like. Umm....Orchestral, 7-movements in a 30 minute song, either boring and ambient, or intense and un-user friendly. One might think "Well it amounts to nothing, but that's ok because it wasn't created for personal enjoyment. It was created for dinner parties." Getting to the point, classical music gets an unspoken bad wrap.
So this makes me think. Are there any albums that show classical music through another perspective. Certainly there must be more people out there who enjoy it as much as my parents. And then it comes to this. There are specific records I personally feel put classical music in different terms. But I'll narrow it down to 2 for now(lists are no fun). There is Ambient 1: Music For Airports by Brian Eno. And there is Frances The Mute by The Mars Volta, which I personally consider one of the greatest records of all time.
This record has 5 songs and is 77 minutes long. The last song is 32 minutes. Each song flows into another to make the album seem like one long song. Sounds like classical music.
However what truly makes this record so great is how diverse the 5 songs are. The thing that makes this record so insane, is how The Mars Volta display their influences over the course of 5 songs, whether it be jazz, dub, salsa, psychedelic, ambient, *** it even has a power ballad. And throughout all these influences The Mars Volta make one bold, original piece of art that separates from a lot of half-assed Rush and King Crimson rip-offs.
The album starts with the first track Cygnus....Vismund Cygnus. It starts of with a nice acoustic intro with Cedric crooning over the reverberated landscapes of the band, with great lines such as "A depth perception languished in the night". All of a sudden the track explodes with Omar ripping out a sweet punk-funk riff with Jon Theodore's drums pounding in the background and Cedric's singing in Spanish in his signature falsetto. Omar's riff continues into the verses with Cedric's voice sounding stronger and with more attitude then ever. The chorus is fun and often breaks into cool little vocal hooks whether it be the warbly spanish or the operatic "Who do you trust?" part. The verse-chorus thing goes on for a while, and then has a nice break down part with Cedric's cries of "Bring me this plague!". It all eventually dissapears in white noise and for 2 or 3 minutes Omar has a nice jazzy solo that builds up with the patient rhythm. The song comes back in as Cedric's singing is backed up by an orchestra. With some nice operatic parts and whatnot, as well as the earlier part of the song coming back, the song ends with ambience and an interesting riff, as a manipulated beat comes in out of nowhere driving the ambience.
You see, the album already has me ranting.
The widow is probably my least favorite song on the record, but is still very cool. This song features a lead acoustic guitar riff, with slide guitar sweeping in the background. Cedric's tender vocals seem to be depicting a drug dealer of some type. Then the powerful chorus comes in with Cedric singing "Freeze without an answer, Free from all the shame! Must I hide? Cuz I'll never, never sleep alone". In the chorus the main instruments enter with very minimal parts, that build behind Omar's power chords. In the next verse a nice melodic bass line enters. The song is pretty decent, but gets great when Flea enters with a nice, minor(key) trumpet part and with cries of "Said I'm, Said I'm bloodshot for sure" and some classic rock inspired soloing comes in. The track ultimately dies out after a repeat of the chorus and the vocals fade off into a really annoying distorted organ thingy, with electronic tinkerings that sound crappy. But the track is good and the end is skippable.
L'via L'viaquez is a nice spanish-rock track. It gets going with a big-ass solo courtesy of John Frusciante. The track gets going then with simple salsa-esque chords being played by Omar and the rhythm section sounds awesome with the bass and drums working together. Cedric is singing Spanish during the verses and its sounds(hate to say it) ***ing sexy. Nice synth work holds the track together. It then enters a pre-chorus with the drums and bass pounding out an a fast rhythm and a cool phasey guitar line. Cedric's vocals of just "woooah" sound reminiscent of Robert Plant in this part. The chorus in this song is the most Latin sounding of all, with a nice percussion bit and piano. Omar does has a very minimalist psychedelic guitar line which really gives it flavor. Cedric here sounds very mysterious, singing in English, with his cryptic lyrics. One of the best choruses on the record mos def. Anyways the song goes on a bit, more shredding and verses and whatnot. After the second chorus though the pre-chorus pounding rhythm comes back in and Omar does some Jazzy sustained notes. A ***ing epic orchestra comes back in and Cedric does some very nice singing in Spanish and english eventually singing "When all the worms come crawling out your head, telling you don't you be afraid". This section ends with an ace drum solo and the chorus instrumental comes back. This turns into a 3-4 minute salsa jam featuring Larry Harlow. It sounds great and (of course)ends in ambience.
Miranda That Ghost Just Isn't Holy Anymore. Best song on here, in my humble opinion. For the first four minutes, the track is made up of coqui frogs, sparse synth work, Cedric's echoey humming, and just pure ambience. However the ambience in the intro sounds practically musical, building up the grim atmosphere of this amazing song. Eventually after all the crazy sounds, a funereal horn sections comes in over layered guitars and keyboards. What I love about this song, is that in the verse there is no main part. The instruments are layered, yet vary minimal, often with just dubs of delayed notes. The music in the song is very industrialized, kind of forming together to create an unsolid atmosphere, whether it be just three notes being played simultaneously on a synth or horn, or a shaky guitar part, or wind, or sustained keyboard chords. Cedric's voice sounds beautiful singing in a light, yet powerful falsetto voice. His lyrics sound so emotional and grim, yet their more cryptic than ever. It leads into the chorus of "And when Miranda sang, everyone turned away, used to the noose they obey". The songs goes on for a bit, stopping and starting. The song goes on into another beautiful verse and it just is an amazing experience to listen to all the manipulated sounds and ambience that forms the tune. After the second chorus, a cool sequenced beat comes in, with trumpets building up. The final chorus comes in blasting louder than ever, with drums entering for the first time in the song. The songs ends with the guitar and trumpet lightly soloing over keyboard/synth chords.
Cassandra Gemini, alas the final song, the ever-so-grand magnum opus jazz epic prog thing! This song starts off as a shock from what was the light Miranda, as it starts of with a fast crimson-esque guitar riff and Cedric moaning loudly "I think I've become one of them...". After a bit of crazy-inyourface-prog freakouts, the song breaks into a cool, guitar riff and Cedric does an odd distorted spoken word over it. Cedric's vocals are ace in this song. His cries of "I've sworn to kill, every last one!" show the panic in his voice and the immense grief of the main character of the album, Cygnus. A fun atonal saxophone solo leads into the chorus, with the staccato, epic instruments match perfectly with the orchestra. The verse comes back in, and it sounds great wit the flute sounds and whatnot. One of my favorite parts in this verse is when Cedric sings "Your mother flirted with disease! When she skinned that costume by it's navel strings!". Chorus comes back, then heavy riff comes in with Cedric screams of intensity "Shockless Shackles free you!". After this part the song breaks free into the several parts. I could write a whole essay on the song, but with this one I just can't describe the experience. Lots of powerfull riffs joined by orchestra, lots of Cedric's whispers, lots of slow parts with minimal guitar, lots of jazz soloing, and Ikey's keyboards sound excellent in this song. A lot of the riff's in here work with Cedric's voice to create an epic piece of work. The song ends with what began it, the acoustic guitar part and Cedric's poetry.
And that is the album and to go into anymore detail than I already have, would really be raping it.
I realize that I sound like a fanboy, describing every part like a music nerd. But what I have mentioned barely covers the musical intensity of this album. I mainly described the songs just to describe the proficiency of the band. What I've written barely does the album any justice. The most important thing is to just listen to it. It shouldn't matter who you are. Even if you hate all prog, you should check this out. If you are a hipster, indie douchebag you should check this out. If you hate all The Mars Volta material, you should check this out. I'm not saying you'll like it. But like any brilliant piece of art, it can attract attention from lover's and hater's of it, because it's that bold of a musical statement.
Omar Rodriguez-Lopez is a composer. This album is in the same leaugue as Mozart's Requiem, not neccessarily musically, but the way it operates. It's one of the most modern things ever done in music and yet brings back the musical prowess of Classical composers. And that's what is so cool about this record. Plus the record works both ways. It really is just a great album. How deep you look into it is completely up to the listener. Perhaps that is why music is so good.