Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Sun Casts No Shadow

Omar Rodriguez-Lopez is a fucking work horse. The man never stops, more than twenty releases in the past five years. Hell, he put out eight albums in 2010. The flip side of this is that a lot of the catalog is...dense. Hard to listen to and noisy, much of Omar's solo catalog is not for everyone. Today however, I will review what I consider to be his most approachable solo effort, Solar Gambling.

Omar Rodriguez-Lopez - Solar Gambling

There are two vinyl pressings of this album, both limited to 750. The copy I have is the clear yellow, the other is clear blue. Omar worked with Ximena Sarinana Rivera for this album. She does the vocals and wrote the lyrics for a large portion of the album. She has an excellent voice, an interesting mind, and on top of that she ain't too bad to look at either. This album also comes with a digital download card.

The artwork on the front jacket reminds me of Lateralus. A cutaway of a human head stares into the eyes of a serpent. The colors are vibrant and psychedelic, the face is tessellated to comprise the background taking on the appearance of a peacock's tail.

The back of the jacket features the artwork from the front, but zoomed in on the throat of the figure. It is done in the some pointillist style, almost staticy. It lists the tracks and credits Omar as producer.

The custom sleeve is an almost candid photo of Omar and Ximena. Don't know about you guys, but she is really fucking cute. Omar stares off into the distance with that trademark superior smirk. A slew of keyboards litter the background.

The vinyl itself is clear yellow with custom labels. It fits the title of the album very well.

I have listened to this album numerous times, yet I see no obvious signs of wear on the vinyl. I have yet to encounter any sound issues on the previous listens, so I will be sure to note any problems.

The first half of the album starts out disjointed and frantic. Jazzy percussion simmers beneath Omar's signature guitar work; soaring and sonically interesting. Ximena's vocals fit very well, she almost sounds like Cedric. The lyrics are all in Spanish (or Portuguese). The time signature is hard to pin down, there is a lot of compositional depth in this album. The second track conveys a mood of loneliness, it sounds as if the music emanates from a deep well. Something is lost and can not be found. I pretend that I can speak Spanish, but a lot of the lyrics elude me. The keys on this track are hauntingly beautiful, they pair with Ximena's vocals excellently. The album continues to progress as an arc through the first half. The last track, Poincare, is my favorite cut from this album. It begins by reprising the first track, Locomocion Capilar. Everything begins to be washed out by a grating sound that sounds like a cold wind blowing. We are left with a solitary set of keys tapping out a chorded melody. Ximena's vocals drift in and steal the focus. They are fucking beautiful. They truly find something buried deep within and lull you into a trance. Echoing in and out of focus and bleeding into a hummed revisitation of the vocal melody.

Side B begins with an undertone of synth as Omar finds the outer limits of the electric guitar. It shifts into a really good groove that makes up the majority of Los Tentaculos De La Libelula. Ximena's vocals emote from her depth of being, I want to hear more of her. The sonic range is filled completely with noise, everything is almost distorted. "Soy mi razon" (I am my reason). The lyrics on this album, from what I can tell, are fucking visceral. The tracks on this album blend into one another with almost no break, definitely composed as an album and then broken into "songs." The last track, "Vasco Da Gama," has a different feel than the rest of the album yet you can still tell from where it came. It is melancholy, driven by Ximena's soulful and shimmering vocals. It imparts the feeling of going through a long period of strife and coming out the other side changed, yet still whole. At times it flirts with changing into a major key, but never quite makes it. It really ties the album up nicely and leaves it feeling complete.

I think that introduced correctly, any fan of music should be able to appreciate Omar's work. This album would be an excellent jumping off point. It is accessible and plays with the listener's emotions, very enjoyable. If you are a Mars Volta fan and don't won this record, get on the ball. The pricing seems to fluctuate between $20 and $50, so be careful when purchasing. There is a current listing on Discogs for $20, grab that shit up.

Welp, I had better get to work. Storewide Buy 2 Get 1 Free sale goes on this weekend at my store. I'll post the relevant details here for anyone interested.

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