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So, The Mars Volta's debut LP. From the ashes of El Paso emo/punk outfit At The Drive-In, Omar Rodriguez and Cedric Bixler (guitars and vocals) respectively, the duo have gone out of their way to make the album that they want, and have broken free from the pretty straightforward punk rock of ATD-I.

I was introduced to this band through several rave reviews in music magazines, which promised a classic album, paving the way for 21st Century rock and roll. As soon as I saw the album in HMV, I was struck by the amazing and surreal artwork, done by Storm Thurgeson. However, nothing could have prepared me for what happened as I put the disc into my CD player. My initial impressions were that this album would be too complicated for a mere mortal such as myself to comprehend, but several more plays revealed just how wrong I was.

At just under an hour, "Deloused in the Comatorium" is by no means easy listening. Songs change tempo and ideas so frequently that it's easy to lose track of what's going on. Cedric's voice is equally erratic, ranging from a sweet whisper to a demented scream. Omar's quitar melodies contrast strikingly with the lightning speed breakdowns of the group's drummer, Jon Theodore, formerly of dub band DeFacto. Cosmic guitar solos lift you up from the chains of reality and set you free from your mind's constraints, only for a thundering drum interruption like an asteroid colliding with Earth.

Special mention must also go to bassist Flea, who plays for popular funk-rockers The Red Hot Chili Peppers. His funky basslines contrast well with the otherwise quite prog rock sound of The Mars Volta. As a group, they have produced what is probably the finest album I have heard in all my 16 years, totally going against the concept of popular rock music to produce something which will hopefully set the standard for music in the 21st century. These songs, with titles like "Eriatarka" and "Inertiatic ESP", inspire a huge range of emotions, from anger to fear to loneliness and much more besides.

The bottom line is, if you consider yourself a fan of real music and have respect for musicianship, buy this album. It will change your world.

Tracklist

1. Son et Lumiere

2. Inertiatic ESP

3. Roulette Dares (The Haunt Of)

4. Tira Me a Las Aranas

5. Drunkship of Lanterns

6. Eriatarka

7. Cicatriz ESP

8. This Apparatus Must Be Unearthed

9. Televators

10. Take The Veil Cerpin Taxt

11. (Bonus UK Track) Ambuletz

The Mars Volta's debut LP and a static wall of challenging music for those raised on conventional rock or pop. It's also a challenging story, a concept album sung in an almost constant falsetto with stream of conscious dream-poetics.

Originally written as a short story by Cedric Bixler, De-loused in The Comatorium tells the story of Cerpin Taxt who slips into a week long coma after attempting to get high from injecting rat poison and as a half-hearted attempt at suicide. Within his coma he dreams of his judgement before creatures he created within his art, the tremulants. His suicide was orchestrated by the tremulants, they worshipped Cerpin as a god figure and the punishments he faces after being judged are penance so that he can become the leader of the tremulants. Dragged through the comatorium and lapsing in and out of consciousness Cerpin finds himself moved through different horrifying scenes.

Once driven insane by his punishment Cerpin is transformed into the god creature Moatilliatta, considered related to Quetzalcoatl by one of the tremulants, Dr. Wolfram Tarant who has a pair of dogs for his arms. Cerpin is sent to kill the enemy of the tremulants, the boar Koral Mataxia.

Cerpin Taxt passes through a gate created by the Doctor and again finds himself in a new body and form, this time as Ojeno Valaso, the female and final enemy of an authoritarian society created by a group of ant-men hybrids. When she dies Cerpin, in his old body, reappears and is taken to Koral Mataxia who controls a tremulant city and takes children sacrifices.

At this point Cerpin Taxt awakens from his coma and years pass within the story. Again the tremulants convince him to kill himself, this time he does it by jumping off a bridge onto the highway. He is pulled back into their world, his place within it unexplained at this point.

Admittedly the story of Cerpin Taxt is tough to explain or give a full summary of. The Mars Volta leave it all up to interpretation. A concept album also can not be fully explained without a listen, the music being as important as any lyric. However, anyone interested in the album or The Mars Volta should check out the Storybook

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