Sometimes, things turn up in the unlikeliest places – a crumpled $20 bill in
your refrigerator, a slice of pizza in your underwear drawer, or Mars Volta
guitar player Omar Rodriguez-Lopez’s solo album on LA underground hip-hop
imprint Stones Throw. The latter actually makes more sense, given the label’s
penchant for releasing experimental music – see Baron Zen and Gary Wilson for
Old Money will
sound familiar to fans of the Mars Volta’s expansive and jazzy prog-rock.
Latin, Middle-Eastern, psychedelic, and electronic elements all have their say
over the course of the album’s 45 minutes. This, actually, is a bonus, too; a
70-minute-long record of these instrumental meanderings would be too much of a
good thing. Rodriguez-Lopez certainly enjoys an extended solo or two, but
fortunately he chooses to surround them with a mÃ©lange of squeals, frenetic
drumming, and stoned synths. Sometimes, as heard on “How to Bill the Bilderberg
Group,” he throws in a few distorted vocal effects as well.
These songs could clearly have fit in on the next Mars Volta
album. Without actually asking the man himself, it’s hard to pin down exactly
why he felt the need to make this a solo release. Whatever the reason, if you
have a reasonable tolerance for jamming and epic rock, Old Money is a good
album to explore.
Standout Tracks: “How
to Bill the Bilderberg Group,” “Private Fortunes” JONAH FLICKER