Omar Rodriguez-Lopez

Se Dice Disonte, No Bufalo

[4/5] The Mars Volta’s albums are already so insanely long and unpredictable that guitarist/chief songwriter Omar Rodriguez-Lopez shouldn’t need to channel energy into side projects: Bonus CDs would serve just as well. However, with Se Dice Bisonte, No Bufalo, Rodriguez-Lopez once more oversees a set of jazz-tinged, ’70s-style psych that could just as well be TMV outtakes (including a version of TMV’s recent live staple “Rapid Fire Tollbooth”). Which isn’t to say these tracks are throwaways: Neatly tying together Rodriguez-Lopez’s last two solo recordings (2005’s Omar Rodriguez and 2007’s Please Heat This Eventually EP-whose title track, sans vocals by Can’s Damo Suzuki, also appears here), No Bufalo often sounds more coherent and inspired than TMV’s last album, 2006’s bloated Amputechture. Once more backed by a band including keyboardist Money Mark, TMV bassist Juan Alderete and his own drumming brother (and TMV percussionist) Marcel, Rodriguez-Lopez sticks to a tight, funky, 4/4 groove even throughout No Bufalo’s wilder material (the asymmetric, Miles Davis-esque “Boiling Death Request A Body To Rest Its Head On” excepted), using repetition and space to build drama and atmosphere where TMV might’ve just piled on complexity. If rumors are accurate, we can expect at least two more Rodriguez-Lopez offshoot releases before TMV drop their next full-length-but if this is the sort of woodshedding Rodriguez-Lopez needs to make Amputechture’s follow-up a monster, the excess music will be worth it. (GSL) Aaron Burgess


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Se Dice Bisonte, No Bufalo was recorded last year while you were living in Amsterdam. You recorded, what, five records while you were living there?

Yeah, I did. [Laughs.] I really did try to relax most of the time. But for me, writing is the equivalent of relaxing. It’s just sitting around with a guitar. So I spent most of my time at my house with my four-track. It was very normal and laid back. It wasn’t like, “Okay, I need to write five records.” It just happened.

Cedric Bixler-Zavala sings on a couple of songs on the new record, but like all of your previous solo albums, you don’t sing a note on it. You actually started out singing in hardcore bands. How come you’ve never returned to that?

This is going to sound weird and pretentious, but I really believe Cedric is one of the best singers of our generation. It’s strange to look at your best friend and realize that he’s the best singer around. It makes you feel… not small, but it does make you think, “Why would I sing?” But I have sung on stuff over the years. You have to remember, for every record that comes out, there’s another one that I’ve chosen to bury.

How many unreleased albums have you amassed at this point?

At least a dozen. I have records from when I was in At The Drive-In, some from after At The Drive-In. I have records that I made through that whole period that will probably never see the light of day.

This new record was recorded a year ago, but in typical Omar fashion, you’ve probably recorded 13 new albums in the time since. What have you been up to lately?

Well, I just finished the basic tracking for the new Mars Volta record. Then there’s another record-a more electronic record-that a buddy of mine is going to put out. Also, [Hella drummer Zach Hill] and I did a record last year. It’s heavier. It’s mostly guitars.

People seem to think that you spend most of your time shunning the music industry and recording 12-minute-long songs. With that in mind, what is the one thing that would surprise people about you?

Oh, man, I don’t know. What would you say?

Honestly, I don’t think people are aware of how funny you are. Also, I don’t think anyone knows the Mars Volta tour with a skate ramp.

Right! [Laughs.] The skateboarding thing is a good example. Most people wouldn’t think of that coming from us. But for me, it’s normal. I mean, we all came from skateboarding, so why wouldn’t we have a ramp on tour with us? But most people don’t see it that way. Most people have this image of us being a lot more serious than we actually are. -Trevor Kelley

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