Xenophanes - Coming on RLP

Wikipedia tells us that Xenophanes was a Greek philosopher, poet, and social and religious critic of the 5th century BC. His pantheistic conception of the Universe supposed that everything in existence has always existed. He rejected his contemporaries' notions of an anthropomorphic "god" (or hierarchy of gods) in favor of a concept not the least bit irrelevant to our 21st century mindset, that of a singular (and hence, all-encompassing) global consciousness. His unorthodox concepts were not widely acknowledged until many hundreds of years after his death, and suffice to say, their material concerns are primarily those which humans wage war over two-and-a-half millennia later. Little surprise, then, that this iconoclastic anomaly of a man should lend his name to a new concept album by THE MARS VOLTA's hyper-prolific mastermind, OMAR RODRIGUEZ LOPEZ.

The inaugural recording from Rodriguez Lopez's low-profile compound in Zapopan, Mexico, Xenophanes is the first album which finds him at the helm vocally and lyrically, as well as musically. Sung entirely in Spanish, Xenophanes showcases a side of Omar rarely seen before, allowing for a much more gestural experience of the man rather than simply the musician, and truly distinguishing this album from its myriad predecessors. Equal parts Volta bombast, El Grupo Nuevo... technicality, and a textural richness unequaled on prior solo releases, Xenophanes is a triumph of imagination and an inspired, concise statement. A conceptual journey through life, death, and re-birth, the album tells the story of a selfish and judgmental female caseworker who falls in love with a male client, only for him to die soon thereafter. Over the course of eleven subsequent lifetimes, the woman experiences life from every conceivable vantage point as her soul evolves, thereby allowing the maturity and eventual letting-go of her ego which in turn enables the realization that the man was, and always has been, her father spirit. Suggesting the fractal and holographic nature of both consciousness and physical reality, the concepts embraced on Xenophanes will appear at least vaguely familiar to anyone with experience in the psychedelic and/or shamanic realms; concepts which Xenophanes himself was likely the first to express within the confines of Western philosophy.

In order to execute the unpredictable, emotionally-charged compositions on Xenophanes, Rodriguez Lopez once again enlists his veteran co-conspirators: bassist Juan Alderete de la Peña, drummer Thomas Pridgen and keyboardist/percussionist Marcel Rodriguez Lopez. Additionally, the album includes contributions from Mark Aanderud (additional keyboards), as well as the notable voice of Ximena Sariñana, doubling and backing Rodriguez Lopez's vocals. As Sariñana's presence on Omar's recordings and during live performances has already been a cause for much speculation, it should be made clear that Xenophanes does not feature the accomplished and versatile singer's own vocal compostions. Subsequent releases (the forthcoming Mary Anne Hobbs BBC Session and Ciencia De Los Inutiles albums, for instance) will fully showcase Sariñana's penchant for infectious melody and engaging lyrics.

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