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Omar Rodriguez Lopez
Old Money Ben Myers , March 23rd, 2009 07:49

Anyone who ever witnessed At The Drive-In at their gymnastic prime or has felt the full force of The Mars Volta as they seamlessly segue from a meandering bongo workout into a thunderous song that you actually recognise – or indeed enjoyed affiliated projects such as De Facto, who quietly released some of the greatest dub cuts of recent years – may know that Omar Rodriguez Lopez is a man who refuses to stand still. Physically and creatively.

Old Money, his tenth solo album in five years (with a startlingly three more to appear in 2009), is further evidence of a pulsating brain and ten frantic fingers working at an optimum level. Way more than mere side project indulgence, across this array of bands and production duties Rodriguez Lopez is rapidly creating a musical canon that will certainly out-live many more of his more commercially successful but creatively devoid contemporaries.

This is because Omar Rodriguez Lopez is one of the most exciting and inventive improvisational musicians out there, a Jodorowsky of sound and stylistic contemporary amalgamation of an imaginary dream team that might includes Jimi Hendrix, Carlos Santana, Sun Ra, Greg Ginn, Jimmy Page, Can's Michael Karoli and Miles Davis.

And because he a guitarist who has confessed to hating guitars and whose focus appears to be directed completely to the sound created in the moment, his solo output - recorded all over the world with different musicians, often in a day or two, and released on a plethora of labels - has varied greatly; from recording albums with Lydia Lunch and Damo Suzuki to his soundscape/noise collaboration with the late Jeremy Ward. All are capable of transporting you elsewhere. All are worthwhile – including this, a loosely-themed concept record about exploitative industrialists with such song titles as 'Family War Funding (Love Those Rothschilds)', 'How To Bill The Bilderberg Group' and 'I Like the Rockefellers' First Two Records, But After That...'

Not that this is an album of songs as such, but rather a series of pieces that meld free-jazz with funk, salsa and psychedelic in a broad rock context. Listening to it one finally begins to understand why some musicians (Hendrix included) have felt compelled to describe their music in terms of colour. In this case we're treated to a swirling burnt sunburst that peels away to reveal a pool of moiling white-hot magma bubbling up through the earth's crust.

To those in the know Omar Rodriguez Lopez long since entered the pantheon of mad professors unhindered by musical genre, unrestrained by the epoch to which they belong and never once distracted by the boring business of music that so often kills creativity. As such his back catalogue is flawless, and this is a welcome addition.