Word has got around that Omar Rodriguez-Lopez is a workaholic. However, the fact that his workload sometimes overtaxes even his colleagues at The Mars Volta has perhaps not yet reached the furthest corners. In a BBC interview in February, the Volta guitarist/composer stated frankly that he had already started recording a new album in 2009 following the work on the last work "Octahedron". Initially, he had not considered this as a new Mars Volta work (see also article on page 42). But his congenial partner, the singer/lyricist Cedric Bixler-Zavala, finally convinced him that this was original Mars-Volta material. That it took until now with the release was due to the different working speed of the two band heads. But now "Noctourniquet" is here, Bixler-Zavala has finished the lyrics. As usual they didn't become ordinary lyrics: The 37-year-old has once again managed to reconcile things that at first glance don't seem to belong together - such as Superman comics and the Greek Hyakinthos myth. Musically, the Americans have made another step forward on their journey. Already since the first album the band has acquired a sound that can be assigned to them immediately. You can also find it in the most different places on "Noctourniquet". It's a lively, often impenetrable Modern-Prog/New-Artrock-spirit: difficult rhythmic structures, driven vocals, abstract guitar work, indefinable sounds. The opener "The Whip Hand", "Dyslexicon" or "Molochwalker" are exemplary for this early style of The Mars Volta. What already proved itself three years ago with "Octahedron" is now also evident: The otherwise hyperactive troop can also be different. Quiet numbers whose rhythm hammer, stirrup and anvil does not incite blind actionism. Melodies that can be recognized without detailed analysis: "Vedemalady" is such an ingratiating track. And especially "Imago" is almost too good to be true. But beware: Mars Volta are still Mars Volta! These tracks are also filled to the brim with disturbing sounds in the background, in the cavities and partitions. And that's what makes this formation so charming. "The Malkin Jewels" sounds like the band sniffed at Tom Waits. The epic "In Absentia", which is characterized by electronic sound images, occasionally gives the impression of eagerly imitating the dreamlike harmonies of Mercury Rev. Maybe this is also due to the new drummer Deantoni Parks. Or the departure of the long-time keyboard player Isaiah Ikey Owens. However, one thing is for sure: The Mars Volta remain a sound phenomenon that can hardly be compared to anything else. This can be seen with vigour right now in the light of the at-the-drive-in comeback.
Top track: Imago