Half Notes: The Mars Volta – Amputechture (2006)

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After Frances the Mute, I honestly wasn’t sure if I particularly cared where the Mars Volta was going next. I found the album completely misguided — or maybe unguided is a more fitting word — and a sonic mess, as if the band simply threw together every chord progression and half-song idea they could muster, then stretched everything out for as long as possible with ambient drones when they ran out of ideas. I have to give them credit, however: They sure tried everything they seemed to have in their collective suggestion box. This time around, however, they tightened things up a bit. Oh, don’t worry, things were still ridiculously overblown — that’s part of their appeal — but at least there seemed to be some sense of direction going on in this one. I don’t need prog-rock to necessarily make sense — but I do need it to sound like it made some kind of sense to the band themselves. And on that front, Amputechture seemed to mean something to them, and it’s far, far stronger than Frances the Mute for it.

‘Half Notes’ are quick-take thoughts on music from Something Else! Reviews, presented whenever the mood strikes us.

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Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson has contributed to Blogcritics, and maintained a series of stand-alone sites including Known Johnson, Everything is a Mess and others. He studied both creative writing and then studio art at Arizona State. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Tom Johnson
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