El Grupo Nuevo De Omar Rodriguez-Lopez - Cryptomnesia
Rodriguez-Lopez Productions
Experimental Rock
11 songs (36:26)
Release year: 2009
Reviewed by James

Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, in case you hadn't noticed, is a very busy man. As well as releasing five albums with long-term colleague Cedric Bixler-Zavala, he's been turning out a frightening amount of solo albums and Eps (14 in the past five years, and it's estimated he has a dozen cued up for release at any one time). El Grupo Nuevo De Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, as you'd guess from the name, is somewhere between a band and a solo album. Rodriguez has roped in Mars Volta members Cedric Bixler and Juan Alderete once again, but for this particular project he's joined by Hella peace-disturbers Zach Hill and Jonathan Hischke. And it's Hill's presence on this album that really sets it apart from a Mars Volta release. Hill generally eschews any funk or groove in favour of a berserker free-form assault that sounds like a never-ending drum solo. Coupled with Rodriguez familiar jazz-rock freakouts it makes Cryptomnesia a bewildering, bugged-out blast of an album. Bixler's vocals try their level best to sculpt it all into a proper song, but these pieces, save for say, Tuberculoids, are far too schizophrenic to be contained, bouncing between segments like a Mars Volta song edited down into three minutes, except bits have been edited out or sped up at random so it jumps awkwardly from one riff to another. Those who enjoy Rodriguez' work at it's most impenetrable and frenetic will probably go ape for Cryptomnesia. If your favorite Mars Volta track is The Widow, however, this may not be for you.

Personally, I find Cryptomnesia to be a somewhat awkward release. The manner in which the music is put together means it's very hit and miss, and just when they've locked into something I enjoy they've shot off somewhere else. Only Noir holds it together, and even that bursts from it's mellowed out groove (think El Ciervo Vulnerado) into the most intense section of the album at it's climax. Still, at times, it works a treat. Tuberculoids could very easily have come off The Bedlam In Goliath, the closest they come to a proper song, albeit blisteringly intense though it is the only song that has a real chorus. Paper Cunts, as you might guess from the playful title (I had a mate in a band called Papercunt, but I digress) sounds like five musicians goofing off in the studio and having a good time with it. Cedric even sounds like he's doing a James Hetfield impression, although that's more due to the vocal melody, that's oddly reminiscent of something off Death Magnetic, I just can't think what. Finally, Warren Oates provides an impressive climax to the album, building in intensity like any good jam should.

At times, however, Cryptomnesia flounders. Some songs fly under the radar entirely, the likes of They're Coming To Get You, Barbara being completely and utterly forgettable. Cryptomnesia's brevity works to its' advantage, any longer and the relentless fury would simply become grating without the tunes to balance it out. I certainly enjoy the sound of this album, but the execution is inconsistent. Cryptomnesia is certainly worth a listen, but not until you've completely and utterly exhausted The Mars Volta's discography (bar underwhelming live release Scab Dates). As much as it feels silly to repeatedly compare it to Rodriguez' more famous works, Cryptomnesia really does sound and feel quite a lot like a Mars Volta album, albeit one with more mental drumming and underworked songwriting. Give it a go, I suppose, but don't go in expecting Frances The Mute.

Killing Songs :
Tuberculoids, Paper Cunts, Warren Oates
James quoted 79 / 100
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