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The moment you've all been waiting forWe don't care about positive or negative reviews, just Pitchforks.


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#1 Superunknown

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Posted 06 February 2008 - 11:15 AM

http://www.pitchfork...dlam-in-goliath



The Mars Volta discography carries an astronomical risk/reward potential, and so it is no surprise that the band's latest record, The Bedlam in Goliath, is yet another all-or-nothing entity. Pitchfork has tended to be in the "nothing" camp: Their first three studio LPs bombed but did so in entertaining and spectacular fashion, clusterfucks of Cedric Bixler-Zavala's incomprehensible lyrical jabberwocky and Rock Band feats of strength. But every now and again, even we'd catch a glimpse of their undeniable upside. Few bands in popular modern rock share their technical prowess, super-adventurous listening habits, or K2 conquering ambition. If they could somehow manage to channel all of it into something other than a tribute to their own excess, even we believe it would probably be totally fucking awesome.

Despite its surface similarities to 2006's Amputechture (decoder ring title, Street Fighter II cover art), it's possible that Mars Volta were finally willing to meet non-converts halfway. First single "Wax Simulacra" clocked in shy of three minutes without a single edit, and while they're still using a compact disc's capacity as a starting point, this time it's broken down into a relatively manageable 12 tracks-- most of which begin with a vocal riff of instantaneous impact. Of course, this is still Mars Volta's idea of accessibility; having left the earth's orbit sometime in 2003, they can only go further into the cosmos. If you can commit any of these attention deficit disorders to memory, you're probably in Mars Volta. If you can explain the concept (something about a cursed Israeli ouija board) without having read any of the pre-release materials, you've recently done drugs with Lil' Wayne.

The general "pro" argument for Mars Volta is that they're a true anachronism of the iPod age, but The Bedlam in Goliath goes great lengths towards actually rewarding short attention spans. Between Bixler's preposterous lyrics (no need to quote them, you've already gotten the idea by now), the fractious time signature switcheroos of "Metatron", and Ikey Owens' keyboard globules on "Agadez", you'll find plenty of moments worthy of high-fiving, but they lack any sort of meaningful big picture context or contrast. (Oh, excpet for that Israeli ouija board stuff.) It used to be you could rely on them to toss in some aimlessly ambient smoke breaks for variety's sake, but save for the turgid wolf cry of "Torniquet Man", Bedlam plays like the true soundtrack to Katamari Damacy, indiscriminate consumption set to a relentless beat.

Opener "Aberinkula" is typical of the dynamic assault, erupting like it was in a stepped-on firehose for the past year and proceeding to just get fucking louder and louder until the free-time saxophones confirm the scent of apeshit. I swear there's a legit funk-metal groove in "Ilyena", but Thomas Pridgen doesn't agree. Ignoring the basic drumming priority of keeping time, Pridgen solos for about six minutes-- or as much you can "solo" while the rest of the band does their own thing. "Goliath" has an appropriately mountainous riff and lumbering rhythm, but guitarists John Frusciante and Omar Rodriguez-Lopez deface it with rote pentatonic wah-wah soloing in the same manner people use the word "like" in conversation. And in the most preposterous production trick you'll (likely not) hear in 2008, 90 seconds into "Cavalettes", the mix gets fried and then sounds like it's being sucked down a toilet before spitting back up. And then they squander any WTF impact by repeating it every two minutes.

Bixler comes off the best here; not since Chris Cornell on Superunknown has there been a lead man who can do a more convincing job of peddling obvious hokum through sheer force of primal will. He isn't as interested as testing the boundaries of his falsetto this time around, and it results in some of the most melodically satisfying tune fragments the Volta have ever come up with. But he can't leave well enough alone, and whatever restraint he shows on the mic fails to make it to the production board, as Bixler filters his vocals through the last 30 years of voice-manipulating technology. Obviously, recent developments have caused for reassessment of the effect, but once again, it's a matter of context. Whereas the robo-pimping of T-Pain or Snoop Dogg at least is juxtaposed with the smoothness of their backing tracks, here it's just another wanky sound effect from a band that can't get enough of them-- Bixler's most recurring guise has him sounding like an insectoid clone of himself.

And I suppose none of this should've been a surprise, but whether it's At the Drive-In's enduring goodwill, a fear of preemptively dismissing the band that could be seen as the premiere 21st century schizoid men, or the brazen conviction with which Mars Volta sell their shtick, they always manage to make you at least second-guess your own instincts. But consider what the similarly constructed virtuoso collective of Battles have accomplished with their chops this past year-- embracing technology, humor, groove, and concision into something that actually sounds like the future as opposed to the refrying of decades-old noodles in dry ice and snake oil. I'm sure defenders of the band will champion Mars Volta as a keeper of the prog-rock flame, but The Bedlam in Goliath renders the term meaningless-- the result couldn't be more averse to actual progress in rock music.

-Ian Cohen, February 06, 2008

The Mars Volta
The Bedlam in Goliath
[Universal; 2008]
Rating: 4.3

#2 .Wax. .Simulacra.

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Posted 06 February 2008 - 11:16 AM

AHHH THE PAGE ISNT WORKING WTF!?

#3 .Wax. .Simulacra.

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Posted 06 February 2008 - 11:22 AM

That's actually one of the best reviews I've read. Extremely well written.

#4 1039

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Posted 06 February 2008 - 11:23 AM

damn, the band is back into the 4s!!

#5 SenorOswaldo

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Posted 06 February 2008 - 11:33 AM

yeah I really have to say regardless of the fact that I disagree with their score (i would probably give it 7-8 or so) I agree with most their complaints, I guess I'm just not as bothered by those things as they are. this is a really well-written review too, the bit about cavalettas is the only thing pitchfork's ever written that's made me laugh out loud. it seems like a lot of their negativity (I hate saying that since pitchfork is NOT just one person with one opinion) is just due to the huge potential the band has and they're really frustrated it's not being fully utilized.

#6 Guest_exo_*

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Posted 06 February 2008 - 11:35 AM

While I agree the review is somewhat well-written, I can't shake the feeling that they didn't listen enough to this. The stuff he's pointing out are things you notice upon first listen, and I see where he's coming from. Saying this, I see a lot of those points as positive now that I've heard the whole thing 10 times or so.

#7 Salmonella Armada

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Posted 06 February 2008 - 11:42 AM

....it seems like a lot of their negativity is just due to the huge potential the band has and they're really frustrated it's not being fully utilized.

I'm quite sure that pretty much the hatred toward this band is because of this very reason.
THen again, each to their own.

#8 tt39

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Posted 06 February 2008 - 11:44 AM

If i had read the review before seeing the score I would have expected something slightly higher, like 5,67 or something.

#9 whorepresents?

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Posted 06 February 2008 - 12:04 PM

"John Frusciante and Omar Rodriguez-Lopez deface it with rote pentatonic wah-wah soloing in the same manner people use the word "like" in conversation"

lol

#10 whorepresents?

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Posted 06 February 2008 - 12:09 PM

they're making a point about tmv fans

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#11 1039

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Posted 06 February 2008 - 12:11 PM

are you implying you didnt know we are all big fucking homos here?

#12 Stroma

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Posted 06 February 2008 - 12:16 PM

It's funny how he calls Goliath a monotonous riff yet references King Crimson's "21st Century Schizoid Man" later on. Hmmmmm....Crimson is monotonous?

#13 Stroma

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Posted 06 February 2008 - 12:20 PM

yeah I really have to say regardless of the fact that I disagree with their score (i would probably give it 7-8 or so) I agree with most their complaints, I guess I'm just not as bothered by those things as they are. this is a really well-written review too, the bit about cavalettas is the only thing pitchfork's ever written that's made me laugh out loud. it seems like a lot of their negativity (I hate saying that since pitchfork is NOT just one person with one opinion) is just due to the huge potential the band has and they're really frustrated it's not being fully utilized.



....it seems like a lot of their negativity is just due to the huge potential the band has and they're really frustrated it's not being fully utilized.

I'm quite sure that pretty much the hatred toward this band is because of this very reason.
THen again, each to their own.

It's really all subjective in terms of "utilizing their potential". If it were up to Pitchfork The Mars Volta wouldn't sound remotely like The Mars Volta and Frances The Mute would have never existed.

#14 sangreobscura

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Posted 06 February 2008 - 12:45 PM

fuck the haters

#15 Guest_exo_*

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Posted 06 February 2008 - 01:00 PM

ron is too good for tmv

because he discovered classical music

stop the hatin

#16 whorepresents?

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Posted 06 February 2008 - 01:05 PM

?

#17 davis64

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Posted 06 February 2008 - 01:12 PM

That score doesn't seem like it matches up the review - but I've also found Pitchfork's scores to just be random numbers assigned for the sake of people who can't be bothered to read the whole thing.

#18 whorepresents?

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Posted 06 February 2008 - 01:15 PM

ron is too good for tmv

because he discovered classical music

stop the hatin


exo explain yuself

#19 Guest_exo_*

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Posted 06 February 2008 - 01:20 PM

A joke, ron.

A joke.

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#20 zyxon

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Posted 06 February 2008 - 01:21 PM

Well written, funny review.




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