Music

Omar Rodriguez-Lopez: Tychozorente

"Omar, we're all here for you..."


Omar Rodriguez-Lopez

Tychozorente

Label: Rodriguez Lopez Productions
US Release Date: 2010-08-31
UK Release Date: 2010-08-31
Amazon
iTunes

Omar Rodriguez-Lopez has released so much music in such a short amount of time, cracking jokes about how he probably never sleeps is borderline cliché. At this point, I'm not joking anymore -- it's time for a musical intervention.

"Omar, we're all here for you. We're all friends here. We think it would be best if you took a break".

Fun fact: I'm reviewing Lopez's 16th solo album (not including his endless catalog of side projects, films, guest appearances, and, oh, some band called The Mars Volta), but this one's already old news; two more albums are currently scheduled for 2010, excluding the new Mars Volta album that's been kicking around for ages (Oh, wait, it's only been a year -- Rodriguez's schedule really messes with your perception of time).

It's hard not to brush off a new Omar Rodriguez-Lopez album, though. With such a ridiculous release schedule -- he has released eight albums since 2009 -- each new solo excursion feels like another brick in a daunting wall of discography impossible to summit. In an age where the Internet and technology constantly bombard music junkies with endless "must listen" albums and plenty of opportunities to fill those iPod gigabytes, devoting so much attention to one artist seems like a demanding task, even for hardcore fans.

I don't think Lopez really gives a damn. He's always operated outside of current music trends, playing intricate, ridiculously dense and experimental prog rock, partnering with vocalist/lyricist Cedric Bixler-Zavala, whose vocals tip-toe between Spanish and stream-of-consciousness English. A man with this much music inside his head isn't seeking profit or glory. He's doing it for therapy.

Tychozorente is surprisingly chilled-out, exploring the electronic and dub influences always lurking in his previous music. This album embraces it head-on. Another surprise: there's not a guitar track on any of these songs. One of the most renowned guitar men on the planet, Lopez has always expressed a love-hate relationship with the instrument, wrangling foreign, wild sounds through his assorted effects pedals. That fact probably explains why the trippy, synth-heavy arrangements never sound shocking. He may be a guitarist onstage, but he's always been a songwriter, producer, and arranger, known for writing virtually every part of every one of his songs, meticulously crafting every sound in the studio. He's basically a "sound" man, which makes enforcing a "no guitar" rule not only an understandable one, but also a logical extension of his sonic travels.

Never an artist to refuse a good collaboration, Lopez works here with Grammy nominated jazz/pop artist Ximena Sariñana (on vocals), his percussionist brother/fellow Mars Volta member Marcel Rodriguez Lopez (on mellotron), and L.A.-based DJ Nobody (Elvin Estela, on bass, programming, and co-production), fleshing out his own synthesizer, sequencer, programming, xylophone, and spoken word tracks. The resulting batch of songs is immaculately produced, each number brimming with bright synths and colorful beats. Sariñana's vocals, sung in both Spanish and English, add layers of both sexy intrigue and accessibility, particularly on the spirited one-two opening punch of "Los Siete Sermones a los Muertos" and "Polaridad", making this one of the most pop-oriented releases Lopez has ever been a part of.

Which isn't to say it's actually "pop-oriented". Lopez's version of electronic pop is...well, still pretty weird. The aforementioned spoken word tracks, practically whispered in Spanish, might work in the context of a David Lynch score, but here, they are slightly creepy and even more boring, turning the six minute stretch of "La Paradoja Divina" and "Contra Suspiros" into a surefire snoozefest.

It's a shame. Basically every track featuring Sariñana is a winner, suggesting an awesome and completely fresh direction for Lopez. It's not worth losing sleep over the worst tracks on Tychozorente -- the best thing about Omar Rodriguez-Lopez albums is that, if you don't like the one you're listening to, there's a good chance he's already recorded eight more that sound nothing like it.

Maybe that intervention can wait, after all.

6
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Music

12 Essential Performances from New Orleans' Piano "Professors"

New Orleans music is renowned for its piano players. Here's a dozen jams from great Crescent City keyboardists, past and present, and a little something extra.

Music

Jess Williamson Reimagines the Occult As Source Power on 'Sorceress'

Folk singer-songwriter, Jess Williamson wants listeners to know magic is not found in tarot cards or mass-produced smudge sticks. Rather, transformative power is deeply personal, thereby locating Sorceress as an indelible conveyor of strength and wisdom.

By the Book

Flight and Return: Kendra Atleework's Memoir, 'Miracle Country'

Although inconsistent as a memoir, Miracle Country is a breathtaking environmental history. Atleework is a shrewd observer and her writing is a gratifying contribution to the desert-literature genre.

Music

Mark Olson and Ingunn Ringvold Celebrate New Album With Performance Video (premiere)

Mark Olson (The Jayhawks) and Ingunn Ringvold share a 20-minute performance video that highlights their new album, Magdalen Accepts the Invitation. "This was an opportunity to perform the new songs and pretend in a way that we were still going on tour because we had been so looking forward to that."

Music

David Grubbs and Taku Unami Collaborate on the Downright Riveting 'Comet Meta'

Comet Meta is a brilliant record full of compositions and moments worthy of their own accord, but what's really enticing is that it's not only by David Grubbs but of him. It's perhaps the most emotive, dream-like, and accomplished piece of Grubbsian experimental post-rock.

Music

On Their 2003 Self-Titled Album, Buzzcocks Donned a Harder Sound and Wore it With Style and Taste

Buzzcocks, the band's fourth album since their return to touring in 1989, changed their sound but retained what made them great in the first place

Reading Pandemics

Chaucer's Plague Tales

In 18 months, the "Great Pestilence" of 1348-49 killed half of England's population, and by 1351 half the population of the world. Chaucer's plague tales reveal the conservative edges of an astonishingly innovative medieval poet.

Music

Country's Jaime Wyatt Gets in Touch With Herself on 'Neon Cross'

Neon Cross is country artist Jaime Wyatt's way of getting in touch with all the emotions she's been going through. But more specifically, it's about accepting both the past and the present and moving on with pride.

Music

Counterbalance 17: Public Enemy - 'It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back'

Hip-hop makes its debut on the Big List with Public Enemy’s meaty, beaty manifesto, and all the jealous punks can’t stop the dunk. Counterbalance’s Klinger and Mendelsohn give it a listen.

Music

Sondre Lerche and the Art of Radical Sincerity

"It feels strange to say it", says Norwegian pop artist Sondre Lerche about his ninth studio album, "but this is the perfect time for Patience. I wanted this to be something meaningful in the middle of all that's going on."

Books

How the Template for Modern Combat Journalism Developed

The superbly researched Journalism and the Russo-Japanese War tells readers how Japan pioneered modern techniques of propaganda and censorship in the Russo-Japanese War.

Film

From Horrifying Comedy to Darkly Funny Horror: Bob Clark Films

What if I told you that the director of one of the most heartwarming and beloved Christmas movies of all time is the same director as probably the most terrifying and disturbing yuletide horror films of all time?

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.