Sound — 9
Omar Rodriguez Lopez's three-millionth side project has put out a solid effort within this album. El Grupo Nuevo de Omar Rodriguez Lopez (roughly translated into English meaning "The New Group of Omar Rodriguez Lopez") is composed of 5 main players. Omar himself (of At the Drive-In, The Mars Volta, and his self-titled project fame) handles the main guitar and musical direction duties, Juan Alderete de La Pena tackles the bass guitar (as he does in The Mars Volta), Zach Hill (Hella, self-titled project) talentedly plays drums, Zach's former band mate in Hella, Jonathan Hischke, is credited with synth bass, and the distinguished voice of Cedric Bixler Zavala (At the Drive-in and The Mars Volta) rounds out the group. The music found on this album is similar to that of a heavier, more experimental Mars Volta, something which you may expect to hear from a project created by Omar and Cedric. However, this band has more of a psychedelic feeling to it, something which must have been brought to the table by Zach Hill given his solo album. The opening track brings with it some of Zach's signature off-beat, fast bass pedal pounding drumming, along with Omar's quite recognizable shredding and improvised-sounding riffs. Cedric makes full use of his falsetto voice in this song as well, giving it a unique feeling, captivating you, as it runs into the next track, Half Kleptos. The track bearing the same name as it's album, Cryptomnesia, has an infectiously vicious beat, one that you could almost say does not have a time signature. Many effects are used throughout the album, lots of them being more technologically infused than what you would expect to find in any other of Omar's projects. Paper C-nts is a track with what is pretty much a nonsense beat by drummer Zach Hill, but strangely enough is all tied together quite well by the rest of his band mates, with Cedric being able to find a comfortably perfect tone to sing on. Also, if you're looking for something just weird and completely out there, but again very weirdly brought together nicely, look no further than "They're Coming To Get You," as this track will surely give you your fix. Such is the story of most of the album, the crazy time signatures and strange rhythmic patterns they play are all done quite well.
Lyrics — 10
Lyrically, Cedric is more agressive on this album than I have heard in any of his other projects. A line in the song Half Kleptos is infectiously sung, but is also quite forward, as it goes, "Girl you ain't better than the germs I spread/Now I only gotta fix the f--king shape I'm in". Another demonstration of what I am going to refer to as "Angry Cedric" from this point forward is shown in the track, "Elderly Pair Beaten With Hammer". If the song's title wasn't enough to make you think this song may showcase some more agressive lyrics, then the line, "But your ego is tangled in expert opinions/And I know you really wanna tell me what it is you f--king think," should set your head straight. Angry Cedric hasn't, however, gone back to his old At the Drive-In screaming in his haze of agression, but has opted to stick with what vocal techniques have worked for him in The Mars Volta as of late. The chilling, spooky aspect of voice is heard well in the beginning of the track "Puny Humans" over a digital loop, while "Shake Is For 8th Graders" gives Angry Cedric a spoken word beginning, before he revisits a line spoken in it's preceding track of "I won't get tourettes if you don't get tourettes. The opening track of Cryptomnesia finds Cedric sweetly seducing you into the album with the use of his falsetto voice, cativating you as the music behind him blares un-cooperatively, but again, these guys manage to make it work... Amazingly.
Overall Impression — 9
Cryptomnesia is quite a weird album to say the least. Even from the creators of such bands as Hella and The Mars Volta, it still comes as a surprise as to what they can do. Upon first listen, I was unimpressed as it seemed to sound to me a bit too close to The Mars Volta for my liking. But upon checking out Zach Hill's solo work and after a re-listen to the album, I have found that it has grown on me quite a bit, from its off kilter drumming to its cleverly hidden synth playing. Cedric seems to have come into his own on this album as well, as it's nice to see him starting to let out some anger that may have been pent up inside since the disbanding of At the Drive-In. With Omar Rodriguez Lopez in control, you get the expected amount of weird sounding, off timed riffs, with the noodling guitar lines that have basically become his signature. In my opinion, it is Zach Hill and Jonathan Hischke that both help to distinguish this project, with their psychedelic sounding drums, synths, and samples. However, one thing that I do not specifically like about this album is how the tracks seem to run into one another without stop, making them blend together into a longer, progressive song. This is demonstrated by the tracks Puny Humans and Shake Is For 8th Graders, as well as Elderly Pair Beaten With Hammer and Warren Dates. Unfortunately, this brings back references to The Mars Volt, with longer tracks, but due to the sound of the forementioned tracks, they are different enough to be set apart. Overall, this super group of math, psychedelic, and progressive rockers alike put forward a good showing in their debut, and it will be interesting to see whether they decide to translate it into a live show and/or put forth another album.