Review Summary: Unfortunately, the song titles are more interesting than the songs sometimes.
“I think the real test of psychedelics is what you do with them when you're not on them, what kind of culture you build, what kind of art, what kind of technologies... What's lacking in the Western mind is the sense of connectivity and relatedness to the rest of life, the atmosphere, the ecosystem, the past, our children's future. If we were feeling those things we would not be practicing culture as we are.”
The history of the Omar Rodriguez-Lopez’s musical progression is a long one, but one of the most important landmarks in his life came from the death of Jeremy Michael Ward. He died of a heroin overdose. For most of their musical careers, Omar and his bandmates often used narcotics, but Ward’s death made Omar and Cedric Bixler-Zavala quit narcotics forever. Since then, the two have produced The Mars Volta’s Frances the Mute
. Many argue that Frances the Mute
is their greatest work of all time, making it seem that Terence McKenna could never be more right.
Since Ward’s death in 2003, Omar Rodriquez Lopez has been more productive than ever. Aside from his extensive touring and recording with The Mars Volta, he wrote four albums while in Amsterdam, including a two-album soundtrack to his supposed upcoming film, A Manual Dexterity
. Se Dice Bisonte, No Búfalo
is one of those, conceived at the same time as Volta’s Amputechture
. The album is the soundtrack to the forthcoming Jorge Hernandez Aldana film, El Búfalo de la Noche
contained 75 straight minutes of music, no rambling ambience that just took up too much time on Frances the Mute
and De-Loused in the Comatorium
. So where did it all go? Had the band worn it out of their system? Not even close. Omar simply moved most of it to this album. Nearly half of the songs on the album are more ambient than anything else. The first two tracks are really a pointless intro, taking up only a minute and a half where absolutely nothing happens musically. The first track Omar released to the public on the Gold Standard Laboratories MySpace, “If Gravity Lulls, I Can Hear The World Pant”, is more of these meaningless, rambling instrumentals that use more guitar effects than Tom Morello could use in a lifetime.
There are a few instrumentals, however, that actually make sense and work. “Lurking About in a Cold Sweat (Held Together by Venom)” revolves around a slow, jazzy groove laid out by bass guitar and warm keyboard. Omar uses his overdubbed, wet guitar sound to great effect here, for once not overplaying because the rest of the ensemble grows with him. At the soundboard, Omar continually hits the off switch on the entire song for seconds at a time and bringing it back at random times. “Boiling Death Request A Body to Rest Its Head On” stands out among the instrumentals simply because it has a groove, but it is not nearly as strong as its predecessor simply because it gets repetitious and Omar overplays. “Please Heat This Eveuntally” is an 11-minute instrumental, a song that Omar would later record with Damo Suzuki, singer of 70s krautrock band Can. The instrumental version is incredibly repetitious and boring, as Omar solos for most of it over the same exact groove, Latin-based and extremely fast. A bass solo acts as the outro for the song, a longer, more impressive one than the one found on “Day of the Baphomets” from Amputechture
. There are moments of brilliance on “Please Heat This Eventually”, but most of the song is boring and repetitious.
The three tracks with vocals dominate the album, although they sound exactly like a Mars Volta song. In fact, the band used “Rapid Fire Tollbooth” as a song in their live set multiple times. Unlike most Volta songs, “Rapid Fire Tollbooth” uses a normal song structure, with a verse and a chorus. It utilizes a funky, laid-back groove and shows that the band does not always need complexity to be effective. Title track “Se Dice Bisonte, No Búfalo” has a main melodic motif, but it jumps around to many different styles, tempos, and volumes. “La Tirania de la Tradicion” could have been the coolest song on the album if Omar mixed it correctly. It features an awesome guitar riff and even better 80s synth, but he puts everything at the maximum volume and it comes out as a disoriented mess completely out of balance. The guitar and synth dominate the sound while the bass and drums are nearly inaudible. Each song has its moments of brilliance, and it shows Omar’s potential. Unfortunately, there are way too many times on the album where the music gets boring, pointless, and repetitious. Omar should stick to The Mars Volta or just make more music rather than incessant rambling.