The Mars Volta

The regularity (some would say relentlessness) with which Omar Rodríguez-López and Cedric Bixler-Zavala churn out worthy and rarely dull records,

in their solo projects as well as the creative spearheads of The Mars Volta, is a mixed blessing.

Because despite their reputation as one of the world’s most thrilling live acts,

it is hard to get that worked up about a new release from the prolific
progsters.

Rest assured: they haven’t lost any of their inventiveness, but instead simply choose to mould it into a few more mellow units,

like the first 5 minutes of the splendid single ‘Since We’ve Been Wrong’,

which rightly suggests that ‘Octahedron’, while never deliberately obtuse, still proves that this band have few peers to touch them when it comes to
going apeshit artfully.

M onday night, 25th of January, and Bush Hall is packed out with an expectant audience while the stage is crammed The Mars Volta.

with samplers, a laptop, a rack of chains and a sixfoot Taiko drum that dwarfs the drum kit.

There is also a neat row of chairs with music stands in front of them that gradually fill with musicians bearing bassoons, tubas and
the like.

As the lights dim, the small brass and woodwind section play a brief, mournful intro,

which is met with an awkward ripple of giggles from the darkened auditorium.

This is, in fact, ‘Time Xone’, the opening track of These New Puritans’ new album, ‘Hidden’, though the audience are clearly expecting something more along the lines of savage,

swarming chest thumper, ‘We Want War’.

Fortunately, that’s the next track in line and the giggling dissolves into whoops,

cheers and knowing head nods as a furious synthetic whir brings the band to the stage, pulling the classical instruments into context.

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