May 23, 2004

Free Moral Agents "Everybody's Favorite Weapon"

Isaiah Owens--better known as Ikey--is one of the creative masterminds behind stunning rockers Mars Volta. Though he was not a part of the At The Drive-In, he has been friends with Cedric and Omar, and both of them helped out on his DeFacto project. While the band is currently in a creative downtime, working hard on their follow-up to last year's critical success De-Loused in the Comatorium, Ikey decided to focus his talents on his own project, Free Moral Agents.

Everybody's Favorite Weapon allows Ikey the luxury of displaying the full range of his musical talents, and he certainly doesn't disappoint in that regard. Ikey's got some really good skills for writing mellowed-out grooves, and if you're expecting something harsh and epic like what he does with The Mars Volta, then you might want to look elsewhere. Heck, he's not even really doing anything similar to either TMV or to DeFacto, and that's great. No,
what Ikey's doing on Everbody's Favorite Weapon is jazz. Period. It's kinda weird at times--with samples (even some taken from The Mars Volta's live show), hip-hop beats and odd grooves placed at inappropriate times--but it's pretty much straight up jazz. Occasionally there are vocals, such as on "Underwater Reverb" and "Lay Down," but the real winner is "Talk Show Host." It's a rap number, and the rapping accompanied by a mellow keyboard track, sounds really, really good.

For the most part, Ikey's ideas are good and his compositional skills are excellent, but the album just doesn't seem to have a strong bond, due mainly to six minutes of silence that's at the beginning of "Gem From a Broken Rock." I'm assuming this was done to make the record feel like a vinyl album--the silence is at the exact middle of the record, both tracklistning-wise and timewise. I understand the reasoning behind doing that, but it breaks the flow of the album, and the last five songs just seem quite limp. This is a shame, because "Talk Show Host" and "Disjointed Love Song" are otherwise excellent, but because the flow is thrown, it's really hard to appreciate them fully.

Still, I can't complain too much about Everybody's Favorite Weapon, because it's a great record.
I don't know if this is a serious project of its own, or if it's nothing more than a creative outlet for Ikey, but either way, it's a great record despite its occasionally weak bond. Side project or the beginning of a beautiful relationship? Only Ikey knows. Here's hoping it's the latter.

--Joseph Kyle

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