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The Mars Volta

Idioma disponível: inglês
Picking up the pieces from At the Drive-In, Cedric Bixler-Zavala and Omar Rodriguez-Lopez formed the Mars Volta and wasted little time branching out into elements of hardcore, prog, psychedelic rock, and avant-jazz and funk. As the ever-evolving Mars Volta, they immediately impressed with 2003's gold-certified Deloused in the Comatorium for Universal. It eschewed conventional logic to push themselves in new artistic directions, while 2005's Frances the Mute revealed a willingness to use concepts to underscore a provocative musical approach. Amputechture arrived 11 months later and sold more than 400,000 copies. Following lineup changes and a spell of bad luck, they issued The Bedlam in Goliath in 2008. 2009's Octahedron for Warner Bros. peaked at 12. 2012's Noctourniquet preceded a decade-long split. In 2022 Bixler-Zavala and Rodriguez-Lopez reunited. They issued three singles and an eponymous full length on Cloud Hill in September. to issue the 2022 singles "Blacklight Shine" and "Graveyard Love." In 2001, internationally popular hardcore quintet At the Drive-In split into two bands. Guitarist/keyboardist Jim Ward, bassist Paul Hinojos, and drummer Tony Hajjar formed Sparta, while guitarist Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and vocalist/guitarist Cedric Bixler-Zavala formed the dub outfit DeFacto before recruiting bassist Eva Gardner and keyboardist/drummer Willy Rodriguez Quiñones. Given the restless musical ambitions of its two founders, the new group wasted little time in branching out from hardcore and punk. They wove elements of psychedelic and prog rock, vanguard jazz fusion, and electronics into a sonic mix that expanded their creative reach. The Mars Volta immediately impressed critics and fans with their willingness to eschew conventional logic and commercial sounds in order to push themselves into new artistic directions. To record their 2002 debut Tremulant, Bixler-Zavala and Rodriguez-Lopez enlisted friends Ikey Owens (the Long Beach Dub Allstars) and Jeremy Michael Ward (as sound technician and vocal operator). Much of their reputation was built on the strength of their live show, as highly energetic performances resulted in a wave of word-of-mouth hype that elevated them to near-mythic proportions. After Gardner left the band, the Mars Volta signed to Universal. In May, during a tour of Europe with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Ward passed away due to a heroin overdose; he was 27. The band's debut full-length, Deloused in the Comatorium, featured Chili Peppers' bassist Flea on nine of the set's songs (RHCP's guitarist John Frusciante also contributed additional guitar, synthesizer, and backing vocals to a track). Produced by Rick Rubin and released in June 2003, it went on to sell more than 500,000 copies and received gold certification. Following several touring replacements on bass, the band hired Juan Alderete full-time. During the tour they also added Marcel Rodríguez-López (Omar's brother) on percussion. The Mars Volta returned to record stores in early 2005 with their second full-length, the ambitious, double-length song cycle Frances the Mute. (They also issued the live set Scab Dates later that year.) The album's concept revolved a diary that had been found in a repossessed car by Ward (he held a day job as an occasional repo-man.) The unknown author of the diary appeared to be a grown adopted child searching for their birth parents; he may also have suffered from mental illness caused by the death of a loved one. The lyrics for each track on the album are loosely based on characters and life events described in this person's diary. Rodríguez-López composed the instrumental parts; he also arranged and produced the sessions. He employed a studio technique credited to Miles Davis: He refused to let the other members hear one another's recorded parts, or even the musical context of their own part, and instead had them play to a metronome. His bandmates were forced to perform each individual segment as if it were a self-contained song. The Mars Volta also hired Adrián Terrazas-González to play reeds and woodwinds on the album; he joined them full-time during the tour. The 79-minute set sold more than 100,000 copies during its first week of release and entered the Top 200 at number four; it went on to sell nearly 500,000 units. While on tour, they released the 12-minute, non-album single "The Bible and the Breathalyzer" b/w "L'Via L'Viaquez." Following the tour, Rodriguez-Lopez spent time in Amsterdam working on and performing with the Omar Rodriguez-Lopez Quintet. He also composed an original score for El Búfalo de la Noche, a film written by Guillermo Arriaga and directed by Jorge Hernandez Aldana. The Mars Volta recorded the score and issued it independently on the band's Gold Standard Laboratories label. (The cover and sleeve artwork were created by Damon Locks.) Just prior to the release of full-length Amputechture in September 2006, drummer Jon Theodore was replaced by Blake Fleming (who had helmed the kit on early Mars Volta demos). It was produced by Rodríguez-López and mixed by Rich Costey. Another concept album, each song was offered as a separate vignette telling a completely different story. The record also featured an expanded role for Frusciante, who appeared on all but one track. Fleming was fired prior to the Japanese leg of the tour and replaced for those shows by Deantoni Parks. That October, back in the U.S., drummer Thomas Pridgen auditioned during a 40-minute live improvisation set in Ohio and was hired permanently. He made his debut as a member in March 2007 in New Zealand. On November 5, 2007, the Mars Volta released a document by Jeremy Robert Johnson titled, "The Mars Volta's Descent Into Bedlam: A Rhapsody in Three Parts." The document includes a short history of the band and describes the obstacles and inspirations they encountered in the creation of their fourth studio album, The Bedlam in Goliath. In November of 2007 "Wax Simulacra," the first single from the forthcoming album, was released with a cover of "Pulled to Bits" by Siouxsie and the Banshees as the flipside. The Bedlam in Goliath appeared in January 2008, just 11 months after Amputechture. Produced by Rodriguez-Lopez and mixed by Costey, the sessions were plagued by strange complications. The band blamed the recording and production difficulties on a bad Ouija board the producer purchased in a curio shop in Jerusalem for Bixler-Zavala -- all of which was detailed in Johnson's essay. Further, Rodríguez-López and Costey claimed that completed tracks would suddenly disappear at random, and that their original engineer experienced a nervous breakdown after his studio flooded twice. Difficulties notwithstanding, the album debuted at number three on the Top 200 chart. On January 17, 2008 they performed "Wax Simulacra" on the Late Show with David Letterman and on January 22, they appeared unannounced at MTV Live studios in Toronto to perform "Wax Simulacra" and "Goliath." "Wax Simulacra" won the 2009 Grammy for Best Hard Rock Performance. Interestingly, the previous February, less than a month after the release of The Bedlam in Goliath, Rodriguez-Lopez claimed in an interview that the next two albums by the Mars Volta had already been recorded. They had left Universal and signed with Warner Bros. Octahedron, their label debut, appeared in June 2009. It offered a new sound and a more stripped-down lineup before recording: saxophonist Terrazas-González and guitarist/sound manipulator Hinojos were both asked to leave the band. It was also the last date to include Frusciante and Owens. Further, Pridgen abruptly left during the tour following a dispute with Bixler-Zavala, and they completed the album with Dave Elitch behind the kit. The set peaked at 12 on the Top 200. Following the road jaunt, Rodriguez-Lopez claimed to have abandoned the other previously recorded Mars Volta album to cut a completely different outing. He embarked on numerous solo projects -- he is a prolific recording artist, producer, and label boss -- and toured with his own band. In March, the Omar Rodriguez-Lopez Group performed at SXSW. Bixler-Zavala joined them as lead vocalist and they performed entirely new material. The lineup -- Bixler-Zavala, Omar and Marcel Rodríguez-López, Alderete, new drummer Deantoni Parks, and keyboardist/sound manipulator Lars Stalfors -- continued to tour then entered the studio. The single "The Malkin Jewel" was released on Valentine's Day in 2012. It entered the Top 200 at number 15. Following their promotional tour, the band went on hiatus. Bixler-Zavala announced his departure and their breakup in January 2013. He and Rodriguez-Lopez joined the reunited At the Drive-In for festival shows in 2012. In 2013, following the Mars Volta split, they did it again. In October 2015, they reunited one more time. In January 2016, trailed by a 15-second video of seemingly new music, the band detailed plans for a world tour and new album later in the year. After initial rehearsals, Jim Ward left the band and was replaced by his former Sparta bandmate Keeley Davis. in December, ATDI released the single "Governed by Contagions." It was followed by the album in•ter a•li•a in May 2017 (the same month that Rodriguez-Lopez announced the imminent future return of the Mars Volta); that December, they followed it with the Diamante EP. In November 2018, while on tour in Brazil, Bixler-Zavala announced that ATDI were playing their last show. A day later the band announced on their Instagram page they were indeed on hiatus. In 2021 the Hamburg, Germany-based Clouds Hill Group label announced they had acquired rights to distribute the band's discography, and Rodriguez-Lopez's entire solo catalog. In April 2021, they issued the 18-disc, limited vinyl-only set La Realidad de Los Sueños (The Realty of Dreams). It contained the Tremulant EP and all of their studio albums, as well as Landscape Tantrums (Unfinished Original Recordings of Deloused in the Comatorium), and the single "A Plague Upon a Hissing Children & Eunuch Provocateur" (an unreleased version also from Deloused in the Comatorium) all on double-etched vinyl with a coffee table book of exclusive photography. They made the Landscape Tantrums demos set available digitally. In June 2022, the Mars Volta issued the mutant neo-soul-cum jazz- funk and cumbia single "Blacklight Shine," their first new material in a decade. That May they pair set up a mysterious art/box installation in Los Angeles' Grand Park; it played the material when you walked inside. They followed in July with the hooky rocker "Graveyard Love" and "Vigil" in August. Mars Volta's full return was completred when the band issued an eponymous 14-track album on Cloud Hill in September.
© Thom Jurek /TiVo
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