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While his guitar gently weeps...
September 15, 2010 1:39 PM   Subscribe

Omar Rodriguez-Lopez drops his fifth solo album of 2010, in Tychozorente, which is available to stream as well as purchase (for a minumum of $6.99) from the link.

Another artist who has made the switch to mostly digital distribution in the last year or two, Omar seems to have found a way to easily distribute the almost perverse number of albums he can publish in a year. His newest effort, Tychozorente is a slightly unusual beast even as Omar Rodriguez-Lopez albums go, featuring no guitar whatsoever. Working with DJ Nobody, his brother Marcel (percussionist for The Mars Volta as well as regular hand on Omar's solo projects) and his partner Ximena Sarinana Rivera (who has essentially replaced Cedric Bixler-Zavala's rare appearances on the last five solo albums, and become a regular member) they have constructed an album of electronic and sampled audio, at times even evoking elements of some of the Warp Records artists.

Having recently directed his third film The Sentimental Engine Slayer (first to see an actual release after an intervention from his actors, and which then previewed at Tribeca, Sundance and Edinburgh film festivals, among others) he has stated a desire to back away from his previous controlling behaviour. How much this newfound collaborative philosophy was a part of this new album is anybody's guess, considering the backlog of albums he apparently has that may someday see release, and a fundamental change in style or approach to an album is pretty much de rigueur for Omar, but aside from his work with John Frusciante (previously) that tends towards the more avante garde and ambient, this does feel like a unique project.

Considering he has at least two more solo albums scheduled for release this year, is working on a new Mars Volta album, the recent production of Juliette Lewis's non and the Licks album, the debut album from le Butcherettes and the release of his 20th solo album in 6 years, it seems remarkable that more fuss isn't made over him simply for his prolific nature, let alone talent and originality.
posted by opsin (35 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
I like Omar and this album, but that there is a psychedelic fleshlight on the cover.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:08 PM on September 15, 2010 [4 favorites]


Did you copypaste a press release, or what?

He's alright I guess, I just wish he would dance around less, and play the right notes more.
posted by sklero at 2:10 PM on September 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


> but that there is a psychedelic fleshlight on the cover.

It's a geode, silly.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:10 PM on September 15, 2010


Did you copypaste a press release, or what?

OK. I was trying to avoid sounding too much like a gushing fanboy, and provide as much information via links rather than pasting screeds of text. Given he's still not hugely popular or well known I figured it was worth trying to give someone new to him a decent heap of info as well.

I know MeFi is snark central, but way to welcome my first FPP. I know it doesn't say anything new but, shit.

As for your appraisal of him, I've seen him live twice, and listened to everything he's recorded, and I've never heard a 'wrong note'. Just how much jazz do you listen to?
posted by opsin at 2:16 PM on September 15, 2010 [6 favorites]


I have to agree with opsin—not a single wrong note to be heard. And i love watching him dance around.
Thanks for the post!
posted by feistycakes at 2:22 PM on September 15, 2010


He's alright I guess, I just wish he would dance around less, and play the right notes more.

I hate to snark on the snark, but this is some of the worst music criticism I have every read.
posted by Think_Long at 2:24 PM on September 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ok ok, yes, that was possibly unnecessarily snarky. But I really dug the first Mars Volta album, I've seen them live once, and seen several live recordings. And that dude cannot (or chooses not to) play his parts live.

Compare: 1. The Haunt of Roulette Dares (live version), 2. The Haunt of Roulette Dares (album version).

Pay special attention to the solo parts. He stumbles all over himself.

(I'm really trying hard to leave Mr. Bixler-Zavala out of the equation, but he sucks live too.)

And yes, I listen to jazz. I think an apt comparison is some live Mahavishnu Orchestra.
posted by sklero at 2:29 PM on September 15, 2010


So excited for this album!

Last year's debut of El Grupo Nuevo de Omar Rodriguez-Lopez was great, especially with Cedric on lead vocals as a bonus for TMV fans. Cryptomnesia is really enjoyable (and "Half-Kleptos" includes a naughty word! I've always idly wondered why TMV albums never contain cursing. It would seem pretty out-of-place in Cedric's lyrics at this point, I think). This year's Sepulcros de Miel by the Omar Rodriguez-Lopez Quartet is available for free or for a donation; it's much more jam-band-y and less coherent than his solo albums, I think, but still really nice to have playing in the background.

The upcoming TMV album is supposedly heavy on synth, which is new but not necessarily frightening; if anything, Omar and Cedric have proved a successful and long-lived partnership, and have remained true to the TMV "sound" despite even producing what they consider a "pop record".

I saw Omar live last year, along with Zechs Marquise, two members of which are his relatives. That's a talented family.
posted by neushoorn at 2:31 PM on September 15, 2010


some of the worst music criticism I have every read.

I hate to snark on snark on snark, but this is some of the worst proofreading I've ever seen.

SNARK FUNNEL!
posted by sklero at 2:31 PM on September 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


I like this a lot more than I expected to. Maybe I'm just glad he's making something that doesn't sound like the Mars Volta (i.e. Rush trying to play Santana songs).
posted by The World Famous at 2:38 PM on September 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'll grant you, the recording I have of one of the their first gigs, Cedric sounded really ropey and... I can't vouch for Omar but I'd buy it. The two gigs I saw were both post Bedlam, and there was nothing wrong about it. Different yes, but not wrong. Cedric sounds fairly spot on live now too, given he has his herbal tea refreshed every five to six minutes.

sfts2 - I've seen a lot of posts about band's new albums, and they've never been much different to this, except for being about bands I'm not interested in. I don't know, maybe that's the point, they should only show up if they're really popular bands. Seems like if I didn't, as someone who's a fan, post about this, no one less a fan was going to.
I had intended to look into more about his using digital distribution and tie it into the posts about Reznor doing so, but there's not much from Omar himself on the subject.

Oh well.
posted by opsin at 2:42 PM on September 15, 2010


if you listen closely, you can hear sarah palin declawing her cats while reading pitchfork.
posted by TrialByMedia at 2:58 PM on September 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


This made me wish web distribution had been available in 1986 and 1987 when Prince had so much good music pouring out of him.

Then again, given how he feels about the Internet now that it's here, I suppose it wouldn't have made a difference.
posted by Joe Beese at 3:04 PM on September 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Personal comments (not The Decree of MetaFilter) in regards to new music posts, and MeFi posts in general:

1) leave the editorials out all-together - "it seems remarkable that more fuss isn't made over him" isn't a big comment, and it's below the fold, but it's still a personal view. If there are personal views you wish to add, save them for comments, and wait for someone else to comment first, because after you submit the post, it is no longer yours to guide and shape. It is part of MetaFilter, for others to digest, discuss, snark and/or ignore.

2) leave out the pricepoint - not everyone is in the US, so the price in dollars doesn't necessarily mean anything, and this isn't a place for selling products, no matter how mindmeltingly good and magically inexpensive.

3) cut back on the blocks of text, and add more supportive links for the ideas. This isn't information, it's coming from out there, from the internet at large. Some times it's hard (or seems silly) to find material to back up the discussion, but you're conveying information to people who know less than you do, and this isn't your blog.

Again, these are my suggestions, and mine alone. Maybe I see this site in a different light than others, and maybe I'm just spouting my own methodology, so take it or leave it. You've done a good job providing more information about the artist's other works versus some of the thin "here are a few awesome songs of this awesome band" posts that suffer from too little.

Also: you sold me at the inclusion of (DJ) Nobody. I can't tell you the name of any of his albums off the top of my head, but I have a few of his various works, and they are all good.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:20 PM on September 15, 2010 [5 favorites]


This made me wish web distribution had been available in 1986 and 1987 when Prince had so much good music pouring out of him.

Then again, given how he feels about the Internet now that it's here, I suppose it wouldn't have made a difference.


Funnily enough, I saw him receive his lifetime achievement Webby award, "[i]n recognition of his visionary use of the Internet to distribute music and connect with audiences."

I think he played a quick guitar riff, but I was WASTED ...

"Everything you think is true"
posted by mrgrimm at 3:24 PM on September 15, 2010


I know MeFi is snark central, but way to welcome my first FPP. I know it doesn't say anything new but, shit.

As for your appraisal of him, I've seen him live twice, and listened to everything he's recorded, and I've never heard a 'wrong note'. Just how much jazz do you listen to?


All right then, opsin, let me try to dial the snark down a little, since you seem to have a rather large chip on your shoulder. Generally, if you think that your FPP doesn't say anything new--or anything particularly old, or particularly different, it is probably best to....not post. The next worst thing to do is mod your own thread. If you don't like what people have to say about the artist, it's best to let it roll rather than get pissy. Not good form for any post, let alone a first one.

I don't think that Mars Volta or Omar R-L are particularly unknown. I have at least three Mars Volta albums and a couple of Omars solo albums. I rarely listen to them because, well, they don't break much ground for me, sorry.

If it's about how much jazz I listen to, that would probably be slightly all the time, to cop a phrase from another prog-rock group I enjoy--Soft Machine. Like late-period Softs with Holdsworth, or Bruford-led prog groups, the music of Rodriguez-Lopez often seems to be more about trying to dazzle with technical proficiency rather than necessarily having anything new to say. But Soft machine from the Cambridge days up through at least #5 stands up well to the test of time. I'm not sure that Omar will be remembered as fondly.

Now, maybe there's a post in there wanting to come out about how, without the constraints of manufacturing costs, an artist building demand, or, say, a company-hired producer with an eye toward editing Rodriguez-Lopez, a technically proficient, but compositionally routine musician can release 7 or more albums in a year.

I mean, I really like Ken Vandermark and Dave Douglas, too, but I gave up buying or even seeking out everything they release in a year--and you can put Zorn in that bag, too, much as I like him--because it becomes a wash with rarely anything that makes me sit up and make special note. However, any of those three have moments on almost ANYTHING they release that say something to me. Rodriguez-Lopez, not so much. And oh yeah. Omar Rodriguez-Lopez is jazz? Hoe much jazz do you listen to?
posted by beelzbubba at 3:31 PM on September 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


Can we at least agree that geodes would make for terrible fleshlights? (Unless gouged flesh is your kind of thing.)
posted by filthy light thief at 3:36 PM on September 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


But Soft machine from the Cambridge days up through at least #5 stands up well to the test of time.

i think you mean Canterbury.
posted by peterkins at 4:16 PM on September 15, 2010


Opsin, you'll find that MeFi has a lot of strict unsaid rules in addition to the stated ones. Try not to get too discouraged from interacting even though you will encounter a lot of self-righteous-know-it-all-ism and hypersensitivity. There are a few of us who have a sense of humor - especially us hyphen-contrarians.

I'm glad you posted the link. The fact that you put the additional info within the "more inside" link was considerate and not out of line, wherever it lay...
posted by hellslinger at 4:27 PM on September 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


I feel bad that you got a raft of shit for this post, because I love Omar. But we did just talk about him when he released the charity albums with Frusciante. He releases an album every couple of months, and this isn't Vondelpark.

Anyway, the Omar Rodriguez Lopez Group is currently on its first US tour, I think, having previously only played in Europe/Russia/Japan. Highline Ballroom on Friday!
posted by synaesthetichaze at 4:28 PM on September 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Where to start beelzbubba... For claiming I have a chip on my shoulder, you're weighing in pretty heavy on something that didn't involve you. Classy.

I didn't get pissy. I replied because I thought the pure snark post followed by a really weak judgement of what I posted about left me with: why post in here? And I wanted to explain that, since I've seen enough posts about Wilco's new album or the like, why can't Omar get some exposure, someone might find something they like.

I never said Omar was jazz, just that if someone was finding what he played live (recently at least, where I think Rolling Stone are right to list him as one of the top guitarists around) to involve wrong notes, then they probably didn't have an ear for jazz. You can't argue that TMV and Omar aren't very, very jazz influenced, surely? Most of the entire Amsterdam set is pure jazz, very Headhunter era Herbie or the like.

And yea, maybe Omar doesn't have something on every album that speaks to you. But he does to me, so... what's your point? Seriously, if this thread was about Arcade Fire everyone would be all up in it.
posted by opsin at 4:30 PM on September 15, 2010


Though as you say also, I really had intended to put more unique content in, there just isn't much, and I couldn't find enough else about Nobody to link to or quote to really add on that front.

Thanks to hellslinger and synaesthetichaze at al, who were interested. Appreciated.
posted by opsin at 4:33 PM on September 15, 2010


Music from Nobody, and an interview to boot (I linked his fan-made discography above, and re-linked it there). LA's Dublab is worth it's own FPP, and is now in my queue of interesting things to share with others.
posted by filthy light thief at 5:10 PM on September 15, 2010


Quit while you're only marginally behind dude. The post isn't about you, some random's opinion on the internet is not worth getting upset over, plenty of people like it fine. Post the link and let the cards fall where they may. It's frustrating, but once you hit post, it's not your baby any more.
posted by smoke at 5:57 PM on September 15, 2010 [5 favorites]


Arcade Fire? Man, fuck those dudes.

(And when's that De Facto album coming out?)
posted by box at 6:37 PM on September 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


An opinion no one asked for: I cant really get in to his stuff, but I love the fact that he is out there making it. The world needs more of this sort of originality, even tho it might not be to my taste personally.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 8:36 PM on September 15, 2010


Bravo for discovering new music! Five albums in 2010 though? And yes opsin; you got pissy in your own post. Deal with it and move on or, god forbid, take it to MetaTalk.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 10:02 PM on September 15, 2010


A friend of mine, a classical pianist, rents a studio in Amsterdam where he practises the piano. One day a nameplate appeared next to his doorbell. It was not his name. He did not recognize the name on the nameplate.
The plate says: O. Rodriguez-Lopez.
A mystery that has not been solved up to this day...
posted by charles kaapjes at 11:46 PM on September 15, 2010


I just wanted to note that the ease of his digital distribution is powered by Bandcamp, which is definitely the best way to discover and disseminate indie music right now. Their interface is attractive, and their prices are cheap.

Go Bandcamp!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 5:03 AM on September 16, 2010


It is worth noting that Mr Rodriguez-Lopez was a member of the late post-hardcore band At The Drive-In before the Great Afro vs Emo split of 2001, forming 2 lesser bands, The Mars Volta and Sparta.

I always thought of the later 2 bands as representative of the opposing elements of ATDI, where the Afros wanted to do their avant-garde stuff and the Emos keeping them from wanking too much. In other words, just the right blend of experimentation vs accessibility.
posted by ianK at 6:03 AM on September 16, 2010


The hell of being prolific: Are musicians making too much music?
posted by mrgrimm at 6:52 AM on September 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Guys, take this over to MeTa if you don't actually want to talk about Omar or his album.
posted by schmod at 7:05 AM on September 16, 2010


Omar/Mars Volta/Drive-in/Sparta make up a strange cloud of music for me.

At the Drive-in didn't piss me off, but they didn't catch my ear either, though I had a lot of friends who were crazy for them. Then The Mars Volta came along. For me, De-Loused in the Comatorium is one of the best albums of all time. It's an effective recording of the kind of barely contained, ecstatic experimentation that you used to get from people like Santana and Hendrix, but with a whole band full of Santanas and Hedrixes. I saw them in a small club in Dallas with Saul Williams on their tour associated with that album and it was less about the music than the energy that they exuded. It felt like the album.

Strangely, Sparta is literally the worst band I can think of. Just total musical and stylistic shit. Like Good Charlotte if those guys thought they were geniuses.

Mars Volta was, I have to admit, all downhill from there. Some of the subsequent albums ahve been not bad, and others pretty bad, but why listen to them try to get back to where they were in '02 when you can just listen to De-Loused?

I like this, though. He's not trying to bring back Mars Volta or anything. He's just experimenting again... albeit not quite as wildly. I really miss the sound of a group of musicians thrashing and holding the song together by force of will and energy.

Compare: 1. The Haunt of Roulette Dares (live version ), 2. The Haunt of Roulette Dares (album version ).

Pay special attention to the solo parts. He stumbles all over himself.


So do you get mad when SRV doesn't play Texas Flood the same in live recordings? I don't think we're listening with the same ears.
posted by cmoj at 9:00 AM on September 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


So, how does this album compare to the other four he's released this year?
posted by rhizome at 3:26 PM on September 16, 2010


I recently got a copy of Guitar Pro 6, a tablature program that plays the tab as MIDI guitar and also allows you to add bass, drums, keys, efx and so forth. There's a rather large collection of files for GPro floating around the internet, and one of the first things I looked at were the At The Drive In and Mars Volta tabs. Omar is a technical and composition genius. His chord progressions and melodic runs hurt my brain, and his use of efx to deconstruct the guitar sound is wicked.

There's absolutely nothing wrong with the version of Roulette Dares that was posted earlier, BTW. I do agree that everything went downhill after Deloused, but get a copy of Mars Volta at the Lowlands (Google Vid) and tell me that's not a great live performance.

And yes, Bixler-Zavala is not the greatest singer in the world, but I happen to find him less grating than Geddy Lee, FWIW.

Now back to listening to the new album. Sounds promising, if the 1st track is any indication.
posted by daHIFI at 7:49 AM on September 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


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