Release Date: Jan 27, 2009
Record label: Stones Throw
Genre(s): Rock, Experimental
Given its range, depth, and breadth, it's utterly fitting that Old Money, the January 2009 offering from the increasingly prolific Omar Rodriguez-Lopez (guitarist, producer, composer, and arranger for the Mars Volta), is his debut for the mind-bending Stone's Throw imprint. On this conceptual recording very loosely based around themes of childhood dreams, nightmares, and colonial capitalism, Rodriguez-Lopez and his musical partners -- who include Juan Alderete de la Peña on bass; Marcel Rodriguez-Lopez on percussion and synths; Deantoni Parks, Cedric Bixler-Zavala, and Jon Theodore alternating on drums; and Adrian Terrazas-Gonzaleson winds -- whip up the most ambitious stew he's ever created. As a guitarist, Omar has continued absorbing the knotty winding path blazed by Frank Zappa.
Guitar jams from Mars Volta leaderAs a side project for an already cultish band, Omar Rodriguez-Lopez’s Old Money is destined to achieve instant bro-you-gotta-hear-this status for some and glance harmlessly off of most. Though the Mars Volta guitarist drops in ambient marimba (“Private Fortunes”), sludge-dub drums (“How To Bill the Bilderberg Group”), free sax/synth squonk (“Trilateral Commission as Dinner Guests”) and the occasional keyboard solo (“Family War Funding (Love Those Rothchilds)”), Old Money is basically an album of guitar jams. Coiled with elliptical melodies, vintage David Gilmour reverb and dense layering, Old Money also has its share of drum-less bedroom sessions (“1921”).
On top of being the main composer, guitarist, and general bandleader for the Mars Volta for most of this decade, Omar Rodriguez Lopez has also put out a small pile of solo releases. Apparently it’s not enough that the Mars Volta puts out a new album about every 18 months and do full worldwide tours; Rodriguez Lopez himself is even more prolific. Most of his previous solo discs have been released in relative obscurity, but his new label Stones Throw actually seems to want people to know that Old Money is out there, so they’ve done some promotion for the album.
First up, if you think all music must come with a melody or hook, this really isn't going to be a wise purchase. Old Money might be some of the more accessible material of Omar Rodriguez-Lopez' work, but that said, that doesn't mean it's particularly accessible. With ludicrous sound manipulation and fretboard fleetness throughout, it's much closer to The Mars Volta than At The Drive-In or De Facto.