In the vein of classic concept albumists like The Who and Pink Floyd, The Mars Volta have succeeded in perfecting distinct mood pieces over the past several years. Avoiding disjointed track-by-track compilations, the band is interested in sculpting entire atmospheres out of their records. Amputechture is the product of their intense work on 2003’s De-Loused In The Comatorium and last year’s Frances The Mute. Featuring a terrific balance between the two releases that culminates in an album reducing the amount of ambient noise and finally admits to songs that are over 10 minutes long (gone are the unnecessary track breaks at shorter intervals—“Tetragrammaton” alone clocks in at nearly 17 minutes). Amputechture still delivers The Volta’s trademark bizarre titles (this time in real languages) as well as lead singer Cedric Bixlet-Zavala’s penchant for Spanish lyrics. In “Asilos Magdalena,” he offers an unexpected love ballad in the Latin tongue that’s unlike anything his band has recorded before, eventually collapsing into Voltian distortion. “Ya no me estoy enamorado con tus mentiras,” he croons (for the monoglots: “I am no longer in love with your lies”). The album picks up considerably in its second half with “Viscera Eyes” and “Day Of The Baphomets.” Fans of De-Loused will enjoy these tracks most. And Red Hot Chili Peppers fans should keep an ear out for John Frusciante’s guest-guitar widdling alongside Volta’s Omar Rodriguez-Lopez in the volatile “Viscera Eyes.” The Mars Volta are continually setting up shop on their own terms and for that alone they deserve at least some of the credit they’ve already secured in college towns and hipster circles across the country. Amputechture shows a band honing their eruptive sound and bringing it into tight focus for the first time, routinely pushing their music to the wall without ever risking a breach.
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