Omar A. Rodriguez-Lopez A Manual Dexterity – Soundtrack Vol. 1

Omar A. Rodriguez-Lopez A Manual Dexterity – Soundtrack Vol. 1
The complex duality of At the Drive-In is starting to make a lot more sense these days. Between the release of the new Sparta disc, which features the three members who represented the chug and groove alt-rock thud of ATDI, and this mostly instrumental work from that late great band’s guitar player, it’s easy to see why the band was unsustainable. Rodriguez-Lopez, who along with vocalist Cedric Bixler formed the Mars Volta, represents the Latin-flavoured, experimental side of ATDI. More akin to TMV’s epic prog rock than ATDI’s frenetic, visceral post-punk mayhem, this disc showcases the guitarist at his most creative. Drawing on influences from the eclectic weirdness of Frank Zappa and the Residents to the eccentric artistry of Robert Fripp and John Zorn, this soundtrack to an as-yet-incomplete and unreleased movie gives us an idea of what a jam session between Tangerine Dream and Carlos Santana might sound like with Brian Eno producing. The ten tracks clocking in at 60 minutes range from dark and atmospheric to cacophonic wall-of-noise epic — the most notable exception being "Deus Ex Machina,” a warped distorted Spanish vocal ditty. Perhaps what’s most surprising about the disc, which plays as a logical extension of his work in his other bands, is how impressive a guitar player Rodriguez-Lopez really is. Although he’s not a pompous virtuoso Steve Vai wannabe, he most certainly deserves the respect of guitar players everywhere. What he lacks in licks per minute, he more than makes up for in inventiveness. Now I’m curious to see the movie that goes with this music. (Gold Standard Laboratories)