The rock and roll history books are littered with great partnerships. Jagger and Richards, Gilmour and Waters, John and Taupin, Morrissey and Marr; the list goes on and on. One which might not spring to mind right away is that of Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and Cedric Bixler-Zavala; like some of the aforementioned, theirs has been a turbulent but extremely fruitful alliance, producing one of the most acclaimed and influential post-hardcore records with 'Relationship of Command'
in their days with At The Drive-In, and making mercurial magic with The Mars Volta for the best part of the last decade, their jazz-fusion space-prog stupefying and frustrating in equal measure. Since the Mars Volta’s public and rather messy split in January 2013 and the, um, “mixed” feedback the ATD-I reunion shows recieved, many thought the two would never work together again, but they make a grand return with new project Antemasque
, releasing their debut record after only forming earlier this year. It’s quite clear this pairing have a frenetic working pace when creating, but does that translate to good music?
It’s certainly the most “normal” thing the two have produced in years; while the albums toward the tail end of The Mars Volta weren’t quite as “out there” as the earlier efforts, this finds them at their most accessible - if anything, this has more in common with the other band that emerged from the ATD-I split, Sparta. Rodriguez-Lopez has one of the most furiously creative and inventive minds of any modern musician, always with his mind on the next idea or project, and following this and last year’s icy electropop sojourn with Bosnian Rainbows, it appears he is back on the plane of us mere mortals, going back to his roots of creating tightly-wound post-hardcore jams. For those that grew quickly tired of The Mars Volta’s “dicking about”, this will be the best thing Rodriguez-Lopez and Bixler-Zavala have done in years; while OR-L is still enamoured of the odd guitar effect, this is wholly straightforward stuff and will go some way to reclaiming some credos as reliable songwriters rather than wild & wide-eyed hippies susceptible to 33-minute wig-outs.
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