Omar Rodríguez-López

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Tychozorente Review

by Thom Jurek

Tychozorente is one of three albums Mars Volta guitarist and musical polymath Omar Rodriguez-Lopez issued under his own name in 2010. To add to this rather prolific output, he also issued a self-titled duet album with Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist John Frusciante, Ciencia de los Inutiles by El Trio de Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, and Sepulcros de Miel with the Omar Rodriguez-Lopez Quartet. Others may have issued more records in a single year (Madlib comes to mind), but none has approached this kind of diversity. Tychozorente is one of Rodriguez-Lopez's most unusual offerings because he plays no guitar; instead he contributes sequencers, programming, synths, and xylophone. Elvin Estela helps with production and programming and plays bass. Marcel Rodriguez-Lopez plays Mellotron. Vocals are provided by Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter and actress Ximena Sariñana Rivera -- a frequent collaborator. Clocking in at just over 31 minutes, this eight-song collection is moody, atmospheric, sensual, cinematic, and sometimes foreboding. Standout tracks include "Polardidad" with its xylophone and Mellotron. The cut opens slowly, hesitantly, providing a set of rhythms approaching Les Baxter's more exotic moments -- without all the other instrumental bluster. When Sariñana Rivera enters, the track moves toward something wholly other, like a Spanish-language love song from outer space. The insistent, crunchy programmed rhythm track on "Piedras y Ansiedad" creates a sense of drama before she sings -- in English this time -- and the rhythm track then takes a club, four-to-the-floor direction. Given the song's pop melody, it's easy to see why she was nominated for Grammys. Ultimately, the hardcore Rodriguez-Lopez guitar freak fans may scratch their heads and pass on this, but it's their loss if they do. The songwriting is top-notch, the arrangements and production are stellar, and the performances are inspired. It all adds up to Tychozorente being one of the most bewitching records in Rodriguez-Lopez's already formidable catalog.

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