Mars Volta

Texas Platters

Phases and Stages

The Mars Volta

De-Loused in the Comatorium (Universal)

After El Paso's At the Drive-In disbanded in 2001, the members broke off into two factions that divided the group's progressive aggression equally. While one half put together the emocore Sparta, the other half crash-landed with an epic prog-rock collective called the Mars Volta. On their major label debut, TMV unleashes atmospherics that pay homage to everyone from Rush to the Red Hot Chili Peppers. That latter influence is no surprise since De-Loused in the Comatorium was co-produced by Chili Peppers mainstay Rick Rubin and features cameos from Red Hot axemen Flea and John Frusciante. Nevertheless, something quite unique is going on here as former ATDI singer Cedric Bixler wails effortless melodies over bombastic jams. Bixler's voice is instantly cosmic, blending Geddy Lee and Jeff Buckley into his own, razor-sharp delivery. Pieces like "Inertiatic Esp" are chaotic towers of blasts and blips, sometimes catchy, but always engrossing. The titles on Comatorium convey how jazz-minded ("Son et Lumiere"), experimental ("Televators"), and mildly pretentious ("Take the Veil Cerpin Taxt") the music is. "This Apparatus Must Be Unearthed," for instance, would be laughable if the band didn't have the smarts to back up such unwieldy titles with equally unwieldy songs. The album, inspired by late El Paso artist/"Frankenstein" Julio Venegas, is overindulgent at times, but the Mars Volta has created an art rock album that pays equal attention to both art and rock.


The 2021-2022 Austin Music Awards Music Poll is underway. Vote now for your favorite bands, venues, and music until January 31.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Music Reviews
Texas Platters
... And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead
X: The Godless Void and Other Stories (Record Review)

Alejandra Ramirez, Feb. 21, 2020

Texas Platters
Daniel Johnston
Chicago 2017 (Record Review)

Raoul Hernandez, Feb. 21, 2020

More by Matt Dentler
Best Ofs
The Beta Band
The Best of the Beta Band (Record Review)

Dec. 30, 2005

Best Ofs
Beastie Boys
Solid Gold Hits (Record Review)

Dec. 30, 2005

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Behind the scenes at The Austin Chronicle

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle