Thursday, August 18, 2016

Corazones by Omar Rodriguez-Lopez (2016)

"Corazones" by Omar Rodriguez-Lopez (2016)

With "Corazones," ORL takes a complete different direction from anything he's ever recorded in his career. The music is straight ahead folk inspired pop. In this album ORL's vocals come to the forefront. On several tracks his voice is high pitched and airy with a dreamlike quality while on others he exhibits a punk rock mentality and yet on others he channels Johnny Cash with his own unique ORL twist.

Amazon link to "Corazones":

Shortly after the passing of his mom, Omar was commissioned to record a few songs for a film project. Several of the songs on "Corazones" originated from those recording sessions for the film that never materialized. The producers asked for the music to be a straight forward as possible. ORL compares some of these songs to "child-like nursery rhymes." ORL commented, "When working with the director and producer, all the themes that were in the film itself were exactly what I was going through: loss, loss of identity because of such an extreme loss." All of ORL's past albums have been highly experimental some calling his music "metal thrash," electronic progressive," "jazz-fusion" and more. Never though has his music been categorized as "pop" or "ballads" until now.  Some of the songs on the album make me think of Bauhaus meets early 70's Pink Floyd meets 70's Brian Eno.

"Corazones" is mournful, subdued and restrained; this gives it the distinction of being the most mellow and musically accessible album of ORL’s career. Gone are the blazing guitars and intricate time signatures, absent is the extreme experimentalism. What we’ve got is something mournful and introspective played largely on acoustic instruments.

Make no mistake, chaos still reigns and ORL is in no way playing it safe. While musically the album is mostly straightforward, "Corazones" is a roller coaster of emotions, with plenty of ups, downs, twists, and turns as ORL purges the grief of his mother’s death. There’s a sort of western feel about the music that recalls a lone, silent hero facing off against the unknown in a vast, unfathomable desert. Here, the lone gunman is ORL, and the desert is his Superego as he comes to grips with both his mother’s passing and her impact on his life.

With this album ORL's vocals are brought to the forefront whereas in the past his vocals were always a part of the background ambience of the song.

"We Feel The Silence" paints a picture of grief, a haunting Spanish guitar ballad with lyrics of loss and an eerie backwards guitar solo drifting in and out like a ghost. ORL's mysterious vocals lend a melancholy to the song that perfectly accents his beautiful swirls of electronic guitar throughout the song.

"Running Away" is a seemingly sunny and upbeat song yet behind the cheerful feel the lyric touches on the yearning to run away from the emotions of pain and anger over losing a loved one. ORL produced a music video for this song in which all the members of his band punch him in the face. I guess it's supposed to be their way of telling him to stop running away from his hurt and pain and face it head on.

"It Was Her" with it's atmospheric sounds reminds me so much of an 1970s Brian Eno composition meets Syd Barrett era Pink Floyd. The experimental guitar chords and ORL's minimal lyrics give the song an expression of emotion that reach right in the center of your heart.

The short 45 second interlude, "Dead Heart" bring us to a Lou Reed style speaking performance by ORL.

"Lola" is simplistic and direct with a 1950s country-pop lean. ORL almost sounds a bit reminiscent of Donovan.

"Sea Is Rising" opens with a Cuban influenced rhythm accented with Marco Giovino's Latin-rock influenced drum patterns. "Sea Is Rising" is ORL's cover of his earlier version of the song. "Sea Is Rising" was originally featured on 2013's "Unicorn Skeleton Mask." The 2013 recording was electronic rapture of dark vocals and bubbling synthesizers. For "Corazones" ORL's vocals are brought to the front as he reimagines the song as a straight ahead rocker with a dramatic blend of electric guitar and syncopated drum rhythms.

"Certainty" is another simple song in which ORL curiously sings in a deep voice.

"Arrest My Father" is the dark-themed song that captures my interest the most. His calling out to have his father arrested is obviously symbolic of pent up emotions. I'm not so sure that he is asking for his father to be arrested but maybe to have his own emotions arrested and contained. In the song he sings "I'm right at the door and I see what you did." He must be talking about the way he reacted to his mother's death when he saw her there lying in her coffin. Stylistically I am also very much attracted to this song which combines Americana guitar styles which reminds me quite a bit of something you'd hear from Johnny Cash along with ORL's mid ranged punk rock vocals.The song is peppered by a locomotive beat and sprightly harmonica.

"Some Sort Of Justice" continues ORLs more than able laid back acoustic guitar sound he has created for this album. Possibly the most personal song on the album ORL sings of loss and pain as he strums the chords of his guitar met by Luke Reynolds' nostalgic keyboards in the middle of the song. Even with a ballad ORL still remains on the edge with his straightforward honest lyrics of the emotions he's felt over the past few years. ORLs brand of ballad reaches beyond the surface of pop confectionary hooks and harmonies and digs deeper into the honesty of pain. ORL never does anything that's just on the surface.

"Five Different Pieces" sports a great organ part lurking behind the drum rhythms with ORL showing off his very deep vocals again. This song deals with the sinister ways hurt and pain can creep up on us. Parts of the uric are playful but reach a point of darkness that bring to light the fact that grief resides right alongside happiness. There’s a superficial happiness to the music that melts away the closer you pay attention.

For anyone who has lost a parent, Corazones strikes a poignant chord. It’s easily the most straightforward and touching effort in his discography, and what he jettisons in musical complexity, he makes up for in emotion. It’s an album of love and shame, pain and joy, truth and lies.

I love this album. It speaks to me in so many different ways and this will be one that remains a favorite for several years to come. This is the album I have been hoping to hear from ORL for quite some time now. The photo of ORL's mother on the cover adds a special touch to the overall finished product.

"Corazones" is the second of twelve new albums ORL will be releasing in 2016. This is an unheard of astonishing feat. I am greatly looking forward to what he has in store for us. I am certain he will take us on an unpredictable ride in terms of volume and range of material.

Amazon link to "Corazones":

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