A Dexterity of 16
Consider this a shining example of the new wave of progressive rock. Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, guitar player and principal song-writer for The Mars Volta, has an audacious new solo album that drives for diversity more than excessive fret work. A Manual Dexterity Vol. 1 also doubles as the soundtrack for Omar’s as yet unreleased film project of the same name. The movie is something Rodriguez-Lopez has been filming on and off for a couple of years using his personal collection of cameras. If this album is any indication of what to expect the piece will be highly visual and abstract without a heavy focus on characters and dialogue. A Manual Dexterity plays less like a traditional guitar player solo-album and more like a fully realized prog-rock opus, much akin to The Mars Volta’s De-Loused in the Cometorium.
Actually, many of the tracks here might have easily been ideas integrated into that record. Imagine the ethereal spacey parts of those songs in a long-form patient delivery. The spastic time changes famous from Omar’s old band At the Drive In are not present here. Songs such as the opener “Around Knuckle White Tie” and “Dramatic Theme” use a set melody and then slowly swell into a melee of textured subtle sound effects. Some are amazingly grabbing like “Sensory Decay Pt. II” which through fuzzy flanged distortion literally is evocative of what one might think it sounds like on the moon. Only two songs on the record feature vocals, the latin dance track “Deus Ex Machina” and the other is the closer “The Palpitations From a Limit” which features a short and sweet performance from Cedric Bixler-Zavala.