THE MARS VOLTA – Scabdates

THE MARS VOLTA - Scabdates


Universal Records
Release date: November 8, 2005

User Review
0/10 (0 votes)

Among the numerous attempts made to describe the music of The Mars Volta, barely a few have been successful. This attempt may not be one of those. Let the experiment begin. Safety goggles on!

The Music

The experiment is called Scabdates and was recorded live on Omar Rodriguez-Lopez’s mobile studio from May 2004 until May 2005. It was later edited by Omar during September 2005, and appears on the album as something like “one night with The Mars Volta.”

The core of this album are fractions or structures from old material by the band, onto which a vivid mix of ambient soundscapes and sheer, borderless improvisations are built. Some of these structures may sound familiar, but they often take off into voids never before explored, leaving you shaking your head in bafflement rather than nodding in recognition. You’ll be pulled along like a limp old dog on a chain as this sadomasochistic machinery steams ahead.

There are many special moments amidst all the craziness. “Take The Veil Cerpin Taxt” and “Concertina” in particular offer magic, without forgetting the other ten tracks comprising this album… but the whole thing is definitely over when at the end of epic “Cicatriz,” Cedric Bixler-Zavala announces: “Go home and take a bath!”

The Band

Since Frances The Mute, The Mars Volta has grown into The Mars Volta Group and a stunning list of contributors are mentioned in the inlay card. Still, there’s no doubt who’s the boss: Omar Rodriguez-Lopez pulls the strings, and with more than just exposing his fascination for analogue electric guitar effects, he defines the mood with subtle moves. Naturally, Cedric Bixler-Zavala is brilliant. He pours out from his bilingual phrases as he rides the beast. Worth mentioning are also drummer Jon Theodore, keyboardist Isaiah Ikey Owens, and bassist Juan Alderete de la Peña. They become your focal point as the floor starts swaying, and the swaying often comes from their sound manipulator, Pablo Hinojos-Gonzalez.

The Verdict

To be able to judge there have to be rules. Since The Mars Volta seem to break every rule, judging becomes indisputably difficult. It’s safe to just say that if you’re in for some serious mind-spanking, buy the album. Otherwise, be careful.

The experiment is now over. Please submit your reports by tomorrow morning… and don’t forget to leave the safety goggles in the box by the door on your way out, thank you!


  • Frode Leirvik

    Frode was a reviewer here at Metal Express Radio, based out of Norway. His headbanging experience started when his brother-in-law gave him Deep Purple’s Fireball at the age of ten. Since then, he has also been a fan of and active in several other musical genres, resulting in a deep and profound interest in music. Some of his favorites, among all of those who have somehow managed to tap into the universal force of Progressive Music are (in no particular order): Thule, Dream Theater, King Crimson,Pink Floyd, Rush, Spock’s Beard, Jan Hammer and Jerry Goodman, Ekseption, Focus, The Beatles, Deep Purple and Frank Zappa.

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