Review Summary: The talent of the players make up for the sheer wankery.
Under the orchestration of Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, there are always going to be a few common details – the guitar, free form elements in structure, and a lack of 'musical' consonance – which create a unique style for the 35-year-old musician. On this new (and free) record he keeps on moving in several directions (as usual), and this one happens to do things really well.
'Sepulcros De Miel' begins with an unexpected electronic introduction, but really gets started in "Part II", with a crescendo of a single processed guitar note panning through your brain. It's that loud in the mix. Fantastic guitar work by Omar and longtime collaborator John Frusciante really bring the album in, playing rock and latin grooves tight with the band.
The work of the band as a whole is one of the most impressive parts of the record. All the members are working together to create really textural instrumental music; it works because this is the record they wanted to make. All involved are creating experimental latin-fusion because they enjoy pushing their abilities.
It makes sense for John, coming from a band with commitments and contracts to go jam with Omar. It seems like a natural thing for them to do, what with his past contributions to Mars Volta records. Omar is of course at the helm of the soundboard, and takes advantage of it. The production is great, just clean enough to match the music. The former Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist is all over the record for Omar to tweak, and some of the best solos of either guitarist are on this record.
That lack of 'musical' consonance I mentioned earlier is here; it has to be accepted as part of Omar's style to enjoy the record. Sure, the songs don't resolve or whatever, but they instead create a similar effect without obeying common practice harmonic conventions. It's not as hard to get over as Amputechture
(2006), and about just as much rewarding.
At just shy of thirty minutes, 'Sepulcros De Miel' makes for a good listen from front to back. Just take it as it comes, and before you know it the stuttered bass solo of "Part VIII" is coming to a very strange end. He's giving it to us for free, and I think it's worth the download. Sceptics should listen whilst stoned.