The Vinyl Sessions - The Mars Volta: De-Loused in the Comatorium

The Vinyl Sessions - The Mars Volta: De-Loused in the Comatorium

20th November 2022

Last… but, by no way least… Our Autumn Season finishes up with The Mars Volta’s outstanding ‘De-Loused in the Comatorium’.

For those who witnessed the apocalyptic demise of At The Drive-In on the ‘Later… with Jools Holland’ TV show in 2000 (think Jimi Hendrix on ‘The Lulu Show’ or the Sex Pistols on ‘So It Goes’) then The Mars Volta would come as no great surprise. The surprise would be the astonishing reaction to their debut LP ‘De-Loused in the Comatorium’.

Cedric Bixler-Zavala and Omar Rodriguez-Lopez decided they were no longer fulfilled by the music they produced in At the Drive-In and felt it was time to move on. The Mars Volta and ‘De-Loused in the Comatorium’ were the result of that decision!

Following the low-key release of their EP, ‘Tremulant’, in 2002, ‘De-Loused in the Comatorium’ was finally released… or unleashed… on June 24th, 2003.

With its two founding members rising from the ruins of the aborted post-hardcore punk outfit At The Drive In, Cedric Bixler-Zavala and guitarist Omar Rodriguez-Lopez took their new vehicle’s multi-sectioned cues from the likes of King Crimson, Genesis and, quite markedly, Pink Floyd. This was emphasised by Floyd’s frequent collaborator, graphic designer Storm Thorgerson, delivering De-Loused’s exquisite artwork.

‘De-Loused in the Comatorium’ is a concept album which easily competes with ‘The Wall’ and ‘Quadrophenia’ in terms of combining music and story. Based on the life and times of Julio Venegas; a friend of the band and an El Paso artist who killed himself in 1996. It chronicles; a first suicide attempt, a subsequent coma, emergence from the coma, a final successful suicide attempt, and the reflection afterwards. Its ten tracks (allegedly recorded in a "haunted" house in Laurel Canyon) interweave with one another, creating just over an hour of music that truly expands minds and destroys expectations. Adjectives used to describe the album’s sound aren't exact the norm: Expansive, uncompromising, ethereal, morphing, cascading, and overtaking. Alternately recalling, but never imitating, Led Zeppelin, Miles Davis, Fugazi, Santana, and Pink Floyd; this album is just as important and just as amazing as any before it.

The album is full of high-octane, energy driven anthems with songs like ‘Inertiatic ESP’, ‘Drunkship of Lanterns’ and ‘This Apparatus Must Be Unearthed’. These songs are performed with utmost soul and conviction. Cedric delivering mind blowing vocal ranges and an intelligent, but confusing, repartee as Omar and the band accompanies with spine-tingling, disjointed musical instrumentation. The album takes only a short time to reach an intense peak with ‘Roulette Dares (The Haunt Of)’, one of the best track of the entire album. Throughout the album, the tempo frequently changes… from towering momentum rock and roll to leisurely acoustic ballads. Overall, the songs on ‘De-Loused in the Comatorium’ are well balanced and interconnected to create a pleasurable and surprising listening experience.

Lyrically, ‘De-Loused in the Comatorium’ is full of the sort of visual bewilderment that brings to mind the writing of James Joyce or Lewis Carroll. Seemingly meaningless words glean meaning from context and flow, propelled by diverse rhythms, elastic bass, and Omar Rodriguez-Lopez’s frenetic riffs. The album fired the imaginations of a particularly eclectic fan-base; Fans of Free Jazz, old school prog, punk and emo have loved it with equal fervour. It combusts on both technical and emotional levels, each feeding the other and leaving the listener both captivated and exhausted.

Here Are Some ‘De-Loused in the Comatorium’ Review Comments:

"...The songs explode with creativity, fusing jazz riffs, tribal rhythms, hardcore bursts of noise, and addictive rock hooks into one of the most compelling discs of the year..."

"...Siphons its inspiration from a variety of moods and styles, including chaos and order, indie rock, dub, free Jazz, prog-rock and psychedelia..."

"...Their songs are like tectonic plates of rhythm and melody that jolt between simmering dub-storm, acoustic solace, and psychotic electric overkill..."

"...This eager embracing of rock's outward-bound potential makes The Mars Volta paradoxically more punk than anyone else around..."

"...The songs on ‘De-Loused in the Comatorium’ are built from dense blocks of punk, psychedelia, and blues rock....This is a record that creates tension from the cryptic and release from the inexplicable..."

"An astonishing album that features prog rock wig-outs, squalling jazz and fiddly guitar solos..."

Ranked #3 in Q's "The 50 Best Albums of 2003"

Ranked #27 in Mojo's "The Best of 2003"

Not sure about all that ‘Ranked #’ stuff… however, what I am sure about & do know is that ‘De-Loused in the Comatorium’ is an album I really relate to, & always find myself going back to… Join us on November 20th and explore the world of Cerpin Taxt…

The Mars Volta were also renowned for their incredibly intense live shows; something I can, personally & definitely, vouch for!

The album will be curated by Carol Fuller.

The album playback will be followed by a Q&A session. 

After a short break, we'll follow the album with our usual ‘Dead Wax’ session. Bring along a 7” of your choice and hear it played through the Arts Centre PA. This can be anything you like, for any reason – the more ‘out there’ the better.

The bar will be open throughout.

£3 Admission. 
Doors open 12pm, session starts at 12.30pm.
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