Omar Rodriguez-Lopez
Despair


1.5
very poor

Review

by Hernan M. Campbell STAFF
June 2nd, 2012 | 18 replies


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Despair induces a truly bizarre experience, but sadly, that's all this album has to offer.

Musique concrète has often been a misunderstood genre in the mainstream audience. The genre is defined by the usage of experimental techniques within the musical orchestrations. The fundamental principle of Musique concrète lies in the assemblage of various natural sounds that are recorded and then composed as one montage of sounds that acts as a musical piece. The genre has also become synonymous with Noise music. Noise music, as its name implies, uses the combination of natural soundscapes, acoustically or electronically generated noise, as well as traditional and unconventional musical instruments, as a musical resource. Many compositions, from both genres, often produce a bizarre sound. Musical pieces coated in obscurity and even ominous atmospheric textures.

There are two themes that seem to surface throughout the essence of Despair, the first being disturbance. All of the compositions are named after films directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder, an art-house filmmaker who viewed his works as a desire to provoke and disturb the witnessing audiences. The second theme is aberrancy. The artwork for Despair is quite reminiscent of the surrealistic visual styles used by artists, René Magritte and Salvador Dali. The cover art displays a person whose face is covered in by a cloth, a reference to Magritte's portrait, "The Lovers". There is also an egg that sits at top of the person's head, yet another reference, but this time to Salvador Dali's work who used the image of an egg in several paintings as a connection to the prenatal and intrauterine- often using it to symbolize birth, hope, and love. The image in the artwork of Despair is also upside down, referring back to the first theme of disturbance, reflecting the perceptual uneasiness of this album.

As I said before, the music of the album seems to follow the principles of these two themes. The soundscapes used in the music produces a truly ominous experience, one that induces a sensation of discomfort. Despair opens with "In einem Jahr mit 13", releasing a series of both electrical and ambient sound passages, consisting of field recordings and synthesizer effects, that appear to repeat throughout the album until arriving to the final track. It seems that this sense of obscurity and repetition in the musical orchestration is suppose to induce a hypnotic effect, and that is perhaps the one and only redeeming aspect of this album. Despair is certainly a surrealistic listen, and right from the beginning the music prevails in surrounding us in a bizarre environment, but the soundscapes aren't even captivating enough to actually coax us with a desire to actually listen to it in full.

"Revolution 9" by The Beatles serves as an example of entertaining Musique concrète/Noise music in popular culture. "Revolution 9", as abnormal as the composition may be, it was, at the very least, captivating. It was a montage of different sounds but with each second that passed, it progressed, taking us to different musical dimensions and constantly exposing us to something new- and as strange as the experience may have been, it made us curious to see where exactly it was taking us, making it worth giving our attention. But Despair, on the other hand, is nothing more but the same sounds being repeated, offering nothing that really manages to hold our interest. Despair is certainly an ambitious effort, and it is admirable to see Omar branching out into different musical realms, but this is certainly a failed experiment.



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user ratings (35)
Chart.
1.7
very poor

Comments:Add a Comment 
insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
June 2nd 2012


3483 Comments


Kudos to Omar for trying new things all the time, but this isn't good. Great review again man. Pos!

Digging: Brant Bjork - Black Flower Power

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
June 2nd 2012


4453 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Thanks, Insomniac. Yeah, it was pretty rough listening to this to the very end, but Im proud to say that I did. even though it was pretty bad.

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
June 2nd 2012


4453 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

its just a weird image. Omar loves using weird images for his album covers. But the cover also references other famous artists.

tommygun
June 2nd 2012


25142 Comments


Damn dude Omar is super inconsistent, very hit or miss for me. I probably won't bother with this one but great review man, pos'd hard as usual

Digging: Banks - Goddess

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
June 2nd 2012


4453 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Thanks Tommy. And yeah, I know what you mean, I usually like his stuff but theres a handful of albums that I just cant get into.

tommygun
June 2nd 2012


25142 Comments


Yeah he's put out some rubbish in his time but man when he's on, he's really fucking on

ZedO
June 2nd 2012


1096 Comments


well, I will check it, I enjoy some songs from the comp Telesterion. Yeah just to know what's Omar's worst, then I'll go to his best ;)
btw, pos

WhiteNoise
June 2nd 2012


3244 Comments


I'm pretty much a fan of Mars Volta, but i've never tried any of his solo work... does he sing or what?

rockandmetaljunkie
June 2nd 2012


3722 Comments


Finally!!
A negative review from PW.
I think this must be your first right ?

Xenophanes
Emeritus
June 2nd 2012


10623 Comments


Stopped caring about this guy in 2009. Will listen to him again on the next Volta record sometime in 2013-2015

Hurricanslash
June 2nd 2012


471 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

I'm still wondering why almost all of the song titles are in german.

Otherwise, yeah, this was pretty bad.

CaptainDooRight
June 2nd 2012


30252 Comments


Good review bro. Pos. can't love them all can we

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
June 2nd 2012


4453 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

@rockandmetal
Yeah it is, and it was about time I did one. Now my Objectivity Score went from "Poorly balanced" to "somewhat balanced".

@Hurricanslash
The songs are named after films by a german director.

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
June 2nd 2012


4453 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Hey Captain, thanks. And yeah this was bad.

eggsvonsatan
June 2nd 2012


1087 Comments


Can we just delete Omar Rodriguez Lopez from he database and assume that all of his albums will be a masturbatory hunk of dog shit.

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
June 3rd 2012


10362 Comments


Hernan layin' tha disses on all the b1tches!

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
June 3rd 2012


10362 Comments


"Never in my life would I expect to see the words "masturbatory" and "dog shit" in the same metaphor."

You mean you don't get turned on when your dog poops all over your kitchen?

YoYoMancuso
June 6th 2012


11189 Comments


^
haha

seriously great review though, how many albums does this guy put out a year like 80?



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