Nearly 20 years into his career as a genre-defying, envelope-pushing musician, Omar Rodríguez-López has yet to run out of ideas. In 2009 alone he has released eight albums under his own name, the Mars Volta and a number of side projects. Every Omar release is a reinvention, as if creativity flows in an endless stream of experimentation and explosive musicality.

His latest solo release, Xenophanes, is no exception. From the opening motif, a gamelan-inspired space-out over the sound of a helicopter, Omar weaves together the accessibility of his wailing guitar grooves with progressive licks that would woo even the biggest avant-garde fan.

Sung entirely in Spanish with polyrhythms as a backbone, the album has a decidedly Latin flare. The backing vocal tracks give the album the ethereal atmosphere that Omar has mastered through his career.

With members of Volta on the album, at times the grooves slip a little too far into Volta territory. But for the most part, Omar asserts himself as an independent creative force.

4 Stars 99-Cent Budget Choice: “Ojo al Cristo de Plata” Sounds Like: Latin-inspired progressive psychedelia Sounds Best When: You want to take a break from The Mars Volta


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