People, musicians in particular, are constantly searching for an expressive outlet. The reasoning behind this action varies greatly, perhaps as a form combating apathy, or out of an inherent drive to create something truly special to them. These individuals, as all do, wish for people to respond to their creations, and to experience whatever emotions invoked by said creation.
The masterminds behind bands such as At the Drive-In and The Mars Volta, Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and Cedric Bixler-Zavala have traveled down yet another avenue of expression in the form of the dub outfit DeFacto. Dub is a rather broad genre of music, rising from Jamaican ska and reggae, dialing in heavy reverb and echo effects to the music, and adding certain ambient effects into the mix to create a heavy, layered, bass-and-drum-oriented style of music.
is DeFacto's debut offering. Although Cedric and Omar are no stranger to their respective vocal and guitar roles in their previous outfits, they venture into new territory, with Cedric playing the drums and Omar the bass as well as guitar. Jeremy Michael Ward, a well-known friend of Omar and Cedric fulfills the same duty as he did with the Mars Volta as sound manipulator. Also stepping into the same shoes as with the Mars Volta, Issiah 'Ikey' Owens rounds out the line-up as keyboardist.
Right from Manual Dexterity
(sounds familiar, no?), it is apparent that these ambient effects will take the forefront. This track sounds similar to an old Nintendo game soundtrack. The feel is almost poppy in perspective, as it is quite catchy. As well, we are offered a brief shouted vocal from Cedric, something we will see often on this record.
fades in with some more ambient goodness. This song, clocking in at over 10 minutes, highlights the roles of every band member in a positive light. The percussion, with some steel drums and cymbals, provide a groovy segue for the low bass line present through the entire song. In particular, Omar's effect-laden guitar perfectly complements the entire ensemble. The bass gathers more prominence later in the song. Vocal snippets can be heard from time to time, although it is unclear what is being sung, although the words 'smoke' and 'red' can be culled from it. A highlight of this album, Cordova
is a personal favorite track.
The third track El Professor Contra de Facto
begins with a heavy samba and reggae beat, very cool and refreshing. Steel drums and bongos in the forefront. Cedric's processed vocals enter here, and it is possible to decipher some of the snippets before his voice turns to a watery mess. This song is heavily percussion-driven, with another groovy bass line from Omar. Ikey's keyboard in this song, about 3:12 minutes into the song, adds tremendously to the moment, and interjects itself into the song's final seconds, giving way to ambient madness and a Jamaican man's conversation.
Keyboards and a hip-hop beat from Cedric begin Fingertrap
. Soon, trumpets and some funky percussion are present, almost as a chorus-type part of the song to complement Ikey and Cedric's portion. This is seen throughout the track, with the trumpets domineering the song. The ambient noise at the end of the song seems to have been lifted out of a video game, where it should have stayed. It goes extremely and unnecessarily high for a moment, and anyone listening with headphones will be quite irked.
Descarga de Facto
begins with the clashing of cymbals and the groove of a bass dubbed over the sound of an audience. Slow-burning, the ambient portion gives way to a truly spectacular solo by Ikey, blending with steel drum and cymbal percussion. Suddenly, some effects from Jeremy scare the crap out of me, interjecting static and fast-forward effects, while not robbing Ikey of his place in the song. The piano ends, and more of the interrupting ambient enters, making it extremely annoying to listen to the track with a relaxed mood of which the track portrays. Ikey's piano, Cedric's percussion, and Omar's bass then return for an encore. I'd have to say that, although Ikey shines, the ambience ruins the song and ultimately make this one of the worst tracks on the entire album. Being overdrawn (at 8:18 minutes) won't help it's case in the least, either.
The next track, Mitchell Edwards Klik Enters a Dreamlike State...and It's Fucking Scandalous
enters with Cedric's mad percussion and more of Jeremy's synth effects, with Ikey coming in with keyboard-created trumpet effects. The bass line is rather hidden. Once again, trite and annoying ambience ruins this track. The over-dubbing of the cymbals and toms by Jeremy towards the middle of the song actually cause one's head to ache. All of a sudden, the drums fade out, then come trashing back in. The actual instrumentation isn't bad, but the boys tend to layer them with unnecessary drivel at certain points.
Bass and drums dominate Thick Vinyl Plate
. Ikey's keyboard comes back a little later, and is a welcome addition. This track is truly groovy, calming, and a huge step-up from the previous tracks, as the ambience doesn't overpower the band behind it. Everything complements one another to create a superb song, a true highlight. You might even enjoy
the ambient noodling in the middle of the song!
is the next offering, and we are treated to a heavily-processed bass line, then Cedric pops up and this track becomes groovy. The ambience is used as background for this song, and is far from its annoying predecessors on this album. Ikey enters on the distorted piano, which makes the track all the better. Odd vocal excerpts are brought into the song, coupled with ambient smatterings. However, Omar and Cedric return to deliver the goods. Omar does some really cool bends and tricks with the bass, adding some flavor to the mix.
Ikey introduces us to Simian Cobblestone
and Cedric replies with some cymbal smashes and steel drums. The bass is rather boring in this song, although Jeremy's ambience, in partnership with Ikey, turns this track into a very interesting sound-scape. Organs and bongos treat the listener well, while the ambience turns very watery, giving the song some interesting character. Random vocals and percussion fade into ambient portions, where we can hear the bass clearly for the first time in the song.
All of a sudden, Omar strikes back with Rodche Effects
. Trumpets yet again, taking the sound away from the reggae influence and giving the track a truly Latin feel. Bongos make the listener want to bob their head. All of a sudden, some Spanish vocals appear, although by the tone of the voice, it is not Cedric or anyone in the band, but of a mariachi
group. The bass quiets down to let the trumpet shine, and drops out entirely to allow a nice percussive portion. With a final blare of the trumpet, Megaton Shotblast
This album is definitely one for fans of the Mars Volta, as very few other people will be able to tolerate some of the ambient passages. Although, it is a fortunate fact that the bad songs on here are in the middle of the album, allowing for a fantastic start and send-off. As well, general fans of Cedric and Omar will enjoy this album, yet another avenue of expression for these artists.
Cordova, Thick Vinyl Plate
The band truly show their talent on this record, many times.
The bad songs are situated in the middle, so the beginning and the end of the album are very solid.
Mitchell Edwards Klik..., Descarga de Facto
The ambient noise can be REALLY annoying.
Listeners may be taken aback by the odd nature of the album.