Mars Volta

  • London
  • United Kingdom
  • Brixton Academy
  • 2005-03-13

Darkness fell upon the people. A placebo was waiting, ready to release itself. Flammable anticipation had been filling the hall ever since the doors had opened. The head hit the strike, an instant chemical reaction occurred as The Mars Volta ignited and exploded with “Drunkenship of Lanterns”. The song was played with vigour and passion, it was expanded upon in the ways we all hoped for. Drums were belted, the bass pounded, bongos were slapped, shakers rattled, not to mention liberal amounts of microphone hurling, spinning and coiling. With the additional instrumentalists, the sonic abilities appeared endless, the band did indeed take advantage.

…and a desire to explore the realms of space and time through the use of sound manipulation devices

On approximately the second or third tune, “Roulette Dares”, there was a fifteen minute prelude with spates of guitar noodling and twisting of effect nobs. On the one hand, you had a type of experimental expression followed by inherent curiosity (both within the audience as well as the artist), and a desire to explore the realms of space and time through the use of sound manipulation devices. However, on the other palm, you had the desire to hear some of the amazing composition from the new album; played raw, live and uncut. After a rather detached tangent of discovery had passed, the band roared in with “Take The Veil Cerpin Taxt”.

Throughout the purely instrumental sections Cedric seemed either rather conservative or very aloof. However, a couple of songs later, the shrieks and howls were piercing the ceiling. Following these souful cries lead your eyes up to the rafters of the spotlights. The evening contrinued to develop an opratic atmosphere of biblical proportions. “Concertina” was played flawlessly with an impressive intensity that gripped the audience as it did a minor three years ago. The robotic central groove of the song had people ducking and jiving in a convulsive manor, as if something was battling to escape from deep inside.

“Cygnus…Vismund Cygnus” then began as rhythms flew from wall to wall and left behind a confused and baffled audience; it was impressively executed. The atmosphere had an amazing charge with a foreboding electricity as “Cygnus” broke into the calm progression found at the half way mark. Theodore’s drumming and Alderete’s bass seemed to physically pour out from within the listener. Snare clicks and hi-hat hisses could be heard clearly around the hall. Omar’s guitar cracked through the musical prism in poetic fractures. Drums then blew every other sound away like grains of dust. “Cygnus” then roared back in for another chorus only to fade into an instrumental improvision (a moment of prose from a neurotransmitter).

“The Widow” seeped porously into those wanting to listen, wanting to experience the impressive ballad the band had recently released on single. For others, this provided a much needed opportunity to find that elusive oasis to quench an intense mescal dryness created by the band.

…had this really been composed for the psychedelic experience?

“Miranda Part B” began abruptly as it does on the record, quickly progressing through parts C and D. The epic song was played straight through morphing into “Cassandra Geminni: Tarantism”. The celestial sonic expression snaked and slithered until the drums and bass broke through to form a mechanistic stomp. The atmosphere calmed once again. Cedric’s whispering shimmered over heads and tickled eardrums. “Cassandra Geminni: Part B” allowed for an awe-inspired audience to try and fathom what they were seeing and hearing; for some, it was to try and literaturally work out: “what is going on!?” The saxophone raved manically over the top of microtones, squeaks, screeches, shricks, moans and pulses of bass. “Cassandra Geminni: Faminepulse” perfectly portrayed moments of surreal madness that is created on the album. Had this really been composed for the psychedelic experience? Before any of those answers became anyway near conception, a driving rhythm came speeding from a far into the foreground and was launched into full flight using Cedric’s vocals as a clear and energetic crystal fuel. As the summit became visible, almost like some unexplained natural phenomenon, an intense yellow light exploded from the centre stage. In some sort of heatwave, burning spinning shards of hot dry visuals coated the audience. As on the album, “Cassandra Geminni: Sarcophagi” completed the listener’s experience in a sort of circular closure. The journey finished abruptly. Thanks was given, then a couple of waves later they were gone.

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