Omar Rodriguez-Lopez doesn’t know the meaning of taking things slow; the man never stops. With around 30 solo releases alone, the Mars Volta man has put his main band to bed – for now – in favour of Bosnian Rainbows, much to the disappointment of Cedric Bixler-Zavala.
This self-titled debut, then, is to be judged on the band as a whole. Of course, there are shades of Mars Volta but singer Teri Gender Bender is the star of the show, with her proggy, Kate Bush vocals smoothly twisting inside your ear canals. ‘The Eye Fell in Love’ is the catchiest track vocally, while measured guitars swim alongside foreboding synths.
Making sense of the lyrics is a much harder task, and while that might be forgiven in prog circles, it won’t with them much favour elsewhere. ‘Mother, Father, Set Us Free’ is the resonating closer, with the hook “I chose to ignore it/ thinking it was psychological”, possibly the only commercially pleasing aspect of her work.
Experimental jazz is usually how Rodriguez-Lopez’s playing is described, but here he offers more, perhaps giving himself in to the will of the band. Opening track ‘Eli’ shows off the prog-rock style with which he is comfortable, but ‘Morning Sickness’ offers a soulful and funky intro. Although there is nothing too challenging in the playing, the challenge for him might be in creating something more restrained.
There’s plenty to enjoy from a rag-tag band of musicians. They are clearly out to please themselves rather than the listener, but at least you feel it’s a true attempt to create music as a band. For Mars Volta fans, it’s rather more like a dilution of that energy and therefore a slap in the face. Whether this is the band Omar chooses to run with now is of little consequence, since as long as he keeps moving he will be happy.