Artist: Zechs Marquise
Title: Getting Paid
Label: Omar Rodriguez-Lopez Productions/Sargent House
The Rodriguez-Lopez family is THE preeminent progressive rock family currently in operation. Not only do Marcel, Manfred, and Rikardo Rodriguez-Lopez comprise three-fifths of El Paso experimental enthousiasts Zechs Marquise, they are younger brothers to Omar Rodriguez-Lopez of legendary prog purveyors The Mars Volta. One can only hope that, as teenagers, all four of these guys would get together and jam at Mexican family barbeques and weddings. Hopefully a video will surface.
Take one look at the album cover for the new Zechs Marquise record Getting Paid and you know what you’re getting involved in: Twin sphinxes with maniacal skull faces leap out from either side of the album title, while standing above in some kind of bizarro Sgt. Pepper’s arrangement are four orange- uited figures with the heads of a gorilla, owl, lion, and elephant, respectively.
The songs themselves are full-on space rock odysseys, and they do not disappoint. Track three “Static Lovers” is a real highlight; a spooky, swirly intro leads into an urgent single-stroke roll before giving way to blistering, psychedelic guitar work straight out of Electric Ladyland-era Hendrix. Indeed, the production values on Getting Paid are of a pleasingly vintage nature: The guitars scream fuzzily through overdriven tube amps, the drums are fat and honest-sounding, and the synths are always buzzing on the edge of distortion.
There are limited vocals on Getting Paid, and that’s actually a good thing. Sunnie Baker’s eerie hook on “The Heat, The Drought, The Thirst, The Insanity” posits a human element amid the chaos, but by the time you get to closing track “Mega Slap”, a balls-to-the-wall adventure complete with Shaft-issue wah-wah guitar, drippy, funky breakdowns, and frenetic drumming from Marcel Rodriguez-Lopez, you’ll understand why they kept the singing to a minimum. The main question that springs to mind is: How does Zechs Marquise pull off this stuff live?