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    Omar Rodriguez-Lopez

    Calibration (Is Pushing Luck and Key Too Far)

    Omar Rodriguez-Lopez - Calibration (Is Pushing Luck and Key Too Far)


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    All Music Guide Review

    Anyone who has grokked the deep magical hoodoo from Mars Volta guitarist Omar Rodriguez-Lopez's solo projects knows he's nothing if not prolific. In 2007 alone he issued a 12" EP with former Can vocalist Damo Suzuki, the barnburner Se Dice Bisonte, No Bùfalo album, and a five-track EP with spoken word artist, novelist, essayist, and expatriate American artist Lydia Lunch -- on three different labels -- and composed the soundtrack to the Guillermo Arriaga film El Bufalo de la Noche. All of this was apart from his recording, writing, and touring duties as lead guitarist of the knottiest, most admittedly self-indulgent band in rock. Calibration is the logical successor to his Se Dice Bisonte, No Bùfalo set (an actual rock tribute to Arriaga's film) and the Mars Volta's Bedlam in Goliath, which was released on January 29, 2008, a week before this. That said, don't expect this to be simply a follow-up album in the same vein. Rodriguez-Lopez is far too mercurial for that to be the case. This one is almost equal parts loopy, knotty progressive and experimental rock and electronics. Yes, all the members of the Mars Volta are present in various places, but so are Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist John Frusciante (as "vocalist" on "Glosa Picaresca Wou Men") and Money Mark (on synths on "El Monte T'aï" and "...Is Pushing Luck" -- with Cedric Bixler-Zavala from the Volta on vocals) as well other friends and numerous family members. The influence of artists like Frank Zappa on Rodriguez-Lopez in terms of both his truly amazing guitar playing as well as his manner of composing actual rock songs is uncanny. But the guitar is only one element that Omar uses on Calibration. Given that this was recorded for N2O, a label known for its DJ mashups (DJ Starscream from Slipknot is also on the roster), Rodriguez-Lopez uses more electronics on this set than he has ever employed on his solo projects in the past. The way in which they are used, however, is anything but "danceable." They add noise, texture, dimension, atmosphere, humor, and even terror. Check the soundtrack-like feel of "Grey (Cancion Para El)," with its user of various televisions, guitars, Kim Humphries violin, and overdriven pedals to stretch time and even the sense of dimension in the piece. Dynamics are turned inside out, and this begins as a lament, and perhaps ends as a funeral travelogue, but in the middle? Entire sonic universes get jarringly complex. The guitars sting and play off one another as disembodied voices and noises from television programs past and present shift through the soundscape, sometimes violently. Frusciante chants like a deranged Zappa in the backdrop about the devil until the tune gets cut in the middle of a phrase as "Sidewalk Fins," with its sinister, acid-damaged sense of foreboding, tension, and doom, slowly creeps into the center. Thomas Pridgen's drumming is a signature in this piece, as breakbreats, Tony Williams-like drum rolls, and fills cross the middle of the mix and are painted by Omar's Rhodes, guitars, and drum loops. "Lick The Tilting Poppies," where Omar is singing, playing bass, guitar, synths, clavinet, and of course guitar, is accompanied by Marcel Rodriguez-Lopez and Humphries in an unhinged cruise through the nightmare side of dope-a-vision. The melody and lyric, both in Spanish mode and language, evolve into something grand, majestic, and utterly beautiful. The album ends with its longest track, "Las Lagrimas de Arakuine," with a simple quartet as Omar plays guitar and synths, Juan Alderete de la Peña plays bass, Pridgen plays drums, and Marcel colors with more synths. It's a long drum- and guitar-driven jam that feels in its own way out of place on the set, until a bit later on. It's haunting, intense, spaced-out, and is a transcendent work of futuristic beauty and melody. If Se Dice Bisonte, No Bùfalo was Omar's rock & roll tribute to cinema, this is its doppelgänger in reverse, an aural cinema of sound that offers a new direction for rock that is not only listenable for all of its excesses and indulgence, but compelling and actually emotionally moving. Calibration is Omar's most adventurous yet most realized moment as a solo artist thus far, and given his other work, and especially the Mars Volta's Bedlam in Goliath, that's saying plenty. ~ Thom Jurek, Rovi

    Calibration (Is Pushing Luck and Key Too Far) Track Listing

    Calibration (Is Pushing Luck and Key Too Far) Notes

    CD - Feb 2008
    LP - Sept 2008

    Credits of Calibration (Is Pushing Luck and Key Too Far)

    • Omar Rodriguez-Lopez
    • Synthesizer, Bass, Arranger, Director, Clavinet, Engineer, Drum Machine, Mexican Harp, Wurlitzer, ?, Producer, Vocals, Composer, Guitar

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