The Mars Volta have imploded, live on Twitter, with singer Cedric Bixler-Zavala letting loose a stream of angry tweets telling of his frustration with guitarist Omar Rodriguez-Lopez work with his new project Bosnian Rainbows at the expense of a Mars Volta tour.
But Bosnian Rainbows was what we all got instead. I can’t sit here and pretend any more. I no longer am a member of Mars Volta. (cont-)
— Cedric Bixler Zavala (@cedricbixler_) January 24, 2013
The Mars Volta are a band who have done as much as anyone to put progressive rock back on the map. They were favourably reviewed in places like Pitchfork, but they were no style-over-substance act loved only by hipsters; when it came to progressive music, they were the real deal. It’s probably true that their later albums lacked the manic intensity of their early work; their incendiary début “Deloused in the Comatarium” is a record that ought to be in every prog fan’s record collection, and is one of the defining albums of the decade. Combining the complexity and virtuosity of progressive rock with the visceral energy of punk, there was nobody else quite like them. They did indeed sound exactly what a band called The Mars Volta ought to sound like.
I will never forget the one time I saw them live, at Manchester Apollo back in 2006. Eight people on stage, and the entire set, just short of three hours, was a single continuous jam. No support, no interval, and played right through to the curfew, all one seamless piece of music, with an incredible energy and intensity. I remember chatting about it in the pub before a Dream Theater gig a few months later at the same venue, and someone said he wasn’t sure if that was the greatest gig of his life, or whether they were completely taking the piss.
That’s as good as description as any.