The Mars Volta - Live (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

The Mars Volta

Live (2003)


The Mars Volta, while hated by many, cannot be denied the talent they displayed on 2003's De-loused In The Comatorium. Taking a page from Weezer's book, the band has issued a 4-song, limited edition live EP that is being distributed only in certain independent record store chains [a list of which is viewable here, if you scroll down a bit]. The first two songs on the EP, "Roulette Dates (the haunt of)" and fan favorite "Drunkship of Lanterns" are live studio recordings of the band in London. The final two cuts, "Cicatraz ESP" and "Televators," are taken from a concert in July of 2003, also in London.

Haters aside, the biggest question I had after hearing some of the more complex tracks on their debut is "how on earth do they pull it off live?" With this EP, I realize that they can't. But that's not necessarily a bad thing.

These songs were almost on sensory overload on recording, and frankly, it's sort of nice to hear them stripped down a bit to see how the band would make up for all the studio magic. First off, Cedric's voice is stronger than ever - if you thought there was some sort of auto-tuning going on with their full length, you'd be sorely mistaken. Bixler Zavala, for lack of a better term, wails on these four tracks, spanning over 40 minutes total in length. His improvisational lyrics and melodies fit in perfectly with each song's extended jam sessions.

Omar's guitar work on these live tracks sounds more and more like Carlos Santana with each passing minute. The man has developed a strangely unique style; a sort of latin-emocore fusion that has never really been seen before. His licks are supplimented by whomever is manning the organ on these recordings, adding a much funkier vibe than the band had on De-loused.

Many people have voiced complaints about the Mars Volta's live show - that they jam for too long, they ignore their audience, et al. From these recordings, I can totally understand; the band sounds totally self-involved, ignoring the audience completely. The studio tracks, presumably with no audience whatsoever, are just as strong and experimental as the ones taken from an actual concert. This band doesn't seem to care who is listening; they are making this music solely for themselves. I, for one, don't mind eavesdropping.

Worth tracking down, definitely.