The birth of this album and band has been a little controversial to say the least. That said anything that is started by Omar Rodríguez-López seems to be done with his last project on fire. He formed Bosnian Rainbows and placed his former band (The Mars Volta) in hiatus - an action that cause the singer Cedric Bixler-Zavala to quit and dissolve the band. Sort of similar to when he and said singer ended the popular At The Drive-In to form The Mars Volta. It was not as if Mr R-L was not releasing other works to keep himself entertained, he has a prolific solo career as well releasing albums under his own name, with John Frusciante of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and other works. The man is a workaholic and he does not know when to stop. So what made him stop his popular prog band to start up again, what did he see in this project that made him change again?
On this project he was joined by Deattoni Parks from The Mars Volta on Drums/Keyboards, Nicci Kasper (Keyboards) and the Teri Gender Bender (vocals and I am not making the name up) of Le Butcherettes, with Omar Rodríguez-López on guitars/keyboards/backing vocals. To say this is a change from what he has done before is an understatement. This is like what happened after AtD-I finished and TMV formed, it was a left-field move which was designed challenge the audience again, it could not be more different if it tried really hard. This is an interesting release for many reasons. For one thing, it is challenging without being stupidly out-there (see my review of Frank Zappa - Civilization Phaze III for further details of out-there and still going over the edge). This is almost conservative in some ways, but it is subtly feral and from watching some of the live performances of this band the recordings are slightly safer.
But don't take safe to mean dull. This band is very exciting and the album is a glorious mixed of pop, punk, rock, electronic and style that holds your attention from beginning to end. From the slow and menacing opener of "Eli" you know that this band is just out to make everything you know look different after experience of listening to them. In Gender Bender the band has a powerful and amazing vocalist both in the studio and lives, but she is not the most amazing thing about this band; neither is Rodríguez-López. It is Parks on the drums and keyboards that hold and drives this band forward and keeps the band moving with his fascinating performance. With songs like "Worthless", the fantastic "Tom Map" and the colossal "Mother, Father, Set Me Free" which ends the album, the band showcases all of their strengths.
Is there any weakness here? Well, only what the listener brings to the album. If you want to hear Rodríguez-López's past, you might be disappointed. If you do not want change, you have your other records. However, if you want a brave and exciting band that is not afraid to make change then I recommend this. I reckon this could get a cult following and will one day be seen as one of the smartest moves that Rodríguez-López ever did. Yes it did kill off (for now at least) one of the most dynamic bands ever, but he was on the money here, the potential of Bosnian Rainbows is too good a thing not to keep you full focus on. Whilst not a proof of a deity album, it is so close to it for me. Beautiful.
9.5 out of ten - Almost perfect, almost.....
You can purchase from amazon here
You can visit their bandcamp page here
The band does not have a website as such, but here is a link to their page on Omar Rodriguez-Lopez's own website
You can listen to the album on Spotify here
Live performance of "Mother, Father, Set Me Free"