The Mars Volta

Record review

Texas Platters

The Mars Volta

Scabdates (GSL/Universal)

True to the Hispanic heritage of Mars Volta alchemist Omar A. Rodriguez-Lopez, who wasted no time assembling, mixing, and producing a live disc culled from this year's Frances the Mute tour, surrealism reigns on Scabdates. Song titles, run times, beginnings and endings matter about as much to these El Pasoans as Top 40 radio, Cedric Bixler-Zavala's feline yowl forever standing on end thanks to Rodriguez-Lopez's Tasered guitar. Seventy-three crack-in-the-earth's-crust minutes liquefy into the same basic miasma as the sophomore LP that inspired them, yet more streamlined, less apt to wander into the ambient dead zones like "Caviglia," a problematic disconnection of the disc's overall forward thrust. Rodriguez-Lopez's staccato guitar fire on "Gust of Mutts/And Ghosted Pouts" rivals Bixler-Zavala taking command of their debut EP's raging heart and soul, "Concertina." Wicked soloing, guitar and organ, on De-Loused in the Comatorium's "Cicatriz" leaves scars. The last track vaporizes into 10 minutes of haze before phasing in and out of a roiling hyper boogie for another 10. It both undercuts the entirety of Scab Dates and gives it its most furious final defibrillation. Salvador Dalí heart attack.

***

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