December 09, 2005

The Mars Volta "Scabdates"

Live albums are normally dicey propositions. Some bands aren't well-served by a live record, as their live performance doesn't really differ from their studio performance. Then you have a band like The Mars Volta, whose live performances are so kinetic and energetic and different from their studio recordings, that the music they perform is almost completely different than their studio work.

The Mars Volta is one hell of a live band, and a live record doesn't quite serve them well, mainly because it's impossible to fully capture the band's electricity. You have to experience it firsthand; you have to allow yourself to be surrounded and engulfed in their musical power. And yeah, it's powerful, heady stuff, too; while most of the material seems to draw from the De-Loused in the Comatorium album, but much of this material is so strong and so weird and so out there, it's hard to be quite sure where it comes from. But damn, it sure is noisy, and it sure is blustery, and it sure is lonnnnngggggg.....

Considering how their records aren't so much albums as they are long, continuous sonic experiments that are merely broken apart for the sake of commerce, it's hardly any surprise that Scabdates is the same way. This is a seventy-two minute experiment in tolerance; how much of this you can tolerate in one sitting is up to you to decide, especially on the album finale "Cicatriz," which lasts for nearly a half-hour with absolutely no restraint. Much like their albums, this live set is not for the faint of heart. Enjoy...if you can take it. If you can't, don't fear, there's nothing wrong with you--just come back later and try to take it all again.

--Joseph Kyle

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