The mars Volta De-Loused In The Comatorium (Strummer/Universal) Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
Bouncing back from the sudden implosion of At the Drive-In, former next-big-things Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and Cedric Bixler Zavula - now fronting the Mars Volta - return with a perplexing concept album based on the imagined mind trips of a friend left comatose by a suicide attempt. The Rick Rubin-produced De-Loused In The Comatorium, the first release on Gary Gersh's new Strummer imprint, finds our hair-bear brothers buzzing from multi-directional thrashing to whooshy programmed whale whoops and the requisite electro bleepery, with brief interludes of twittering minimalistic guitar figures alternately accompanied by high-pitched humming and scream-singing. Rhythms shift rapidly, and songs - often between six and 12 minutes long - unfold in non-linear ways that recall some of the more entertaining extremes of 70s hobbit-rock excess. It's anyone's guess what they're on about (Cicatriz ESP?), but there's rumoured to be a companion book forthcoming that will likely explain, er, nothing.