Puerto Rico via El Paso, Texas’ prog/psychedelic ensemble, Zechs Marquise, can be considered to be a musical family affair, as three of the members of the band, Marcel, Marfred, and Rikardo Rodríguez-López are brothers, also sharing the same surname and blood line with the strongly influential member of The Mars Volta, Omar Rodríguez-Lopez.
The El Paso-based band, which formed in 2004, have created buzz throughout the music scene announcing the release of their upcoming Getting Paid as early as October of last year (out Sept. 27). That release date is tomorrow, and we’re offering you an exclusive full album review, track by track. All nine, baby.
1) The first and title-track of the album, “Getting Paid” opens with a funky bass line that paints a picture of a classic Cheech Marin character strutting down the block without a care in the world; or like he just got paid. When the smooth guitar melody comes in, there’s a resemblance to Tito Puente horn melodies, but it’s always important to not get used to a specific Zechs Marquise melody for too long because there’s always a new musical movement around the corner in each song. The blend of progressive and psychedelia makes the band’s composition style changeable and fluid.
2) “Lock Jaw Night Vision” gives off a bit of a psychedelic-trance aura, but what it really portrays is a serious Latin-based Primus-esque mood. The guitar solos and riffs are similar to a Larry Lalonde’s guitar style (guitarist of Primus) and the speed and energy of King Crimson. So good. It’s very refreshing to listen to a band with true technical talent and an obvious understanding for progressive rock. Zechs Marquise is the real deal.
3) “Static Lovers” is where you’re going to realize that the titles of the songs are tied into the sound-scapes the band creates. If you have any imagination or even a mildly perceptive ear, you’ll begin to understand that “Static Lovers” does sound like a static sexual encounter, (get the remix here to get a glimpse of the original). Zechs Marquise seems to be more creative than toungue and cheek. The best part of this track is the appearance of vocals. They incorporate vocal choruses that are based on traditional Latin pop jazz songs from the 60’s and 70’s. You don’t have to be a Latin music expert to hear the touches of salsa and mambo in their music. It makes their sound original, fresh, and a joy to listen to.
4) “The Heat The Drought The Thirst and The Insanity” shares a beautiful female vocalist singing English lyrics, that are not as hopeful as her pretty voice. “The sun is out, the ground is dry, I can’t shake this feeling, that we’re all going to die….” Once the music begins, you’ll find yourself swimming deep in an ocean of a progressive sea of insanity. Granted, the song is about drought and thirst; the mood of fear and the lack of navigation is thick and healthy, but a really potent and romantic track. The female vocals really bring a feminine essence to this album that’s incredibly well done and tasteful.
5) If any of you have older brothers, I’m sure you’ll understand when I say listening to “Time Masters” will remind of the time you found your big brother’s copy of Tron and his Rush album in the same day. Nonetheless, there’s an undertone of hand drums that keep the Latin feel prevelant and consistent. It’s really fun and imaginative. Getting Paid has so many moments of nostalgia that if you’re 25 or older, you’re going to have a great time digging into this record.
6) Guajira is a traditional form of Cuban inspired music of campesino themes, and in Getting Paid, “Guajira” starts out with reverbed hand drums and a smooth and tropical blanket of sound that is soothing. The song later moves back into the classy prog grooves that Zechs Marquise is best known for. For any deep Latin music heads, there are tons modern interpretations of Guajira from Santana to Da Funk, and they’re all drastically different. Zechs Marquise puts their own sexy and driving spin on the term and style to this root genre.
7) “Everlasting Beacon of Light Final Master” is a cool break from the overall tone of the album. With this track, you get a hip hop (more west coast then east) inspired drum beat and an all around traditional American urban sound. The vocals are great, and you even get a little touch of The Mars Volta vibe in this track. Although the song is a bit different from the rest of the album, it doesn’t seem out of sorts or misplaced in any way. It could be considered a favorite for the overall album. It has a lot of variety and there’s a keyboard solo that is terribly awesome.
8) The title “Crushin’ It!” can have many connotations to it. But with this song, you’re taken back to a compositional style that is similar to the earlier tracks on the album. There is not as much energy in “Crushin’ It!” as other tracks, but it’s still intriguing and hold its form with tasteful melodies, and a foward moving psychedelic pace.
9) Last, but certainly not least, “Mega Slap” takes us home with a wild and frantic ride to the finish line. The drums are syncopated in a way that seem inhuman. Zechs Marquise really outdid themselves with this final track. It’s a gem where each movement and note is played with more vigor and enthusiasm than all the other tracks put together. It’s all in good taste because it doesn’t outshine the other tracks, but it is displayed as a well done finale. You have an encore recorded right onto the album for you, so it’s amazingly pleasing how “Mega Slap” excites the senses and will leave you waiting for the continuation in the form of the next album.
Pay attention to Getting Paid — it’s well played, well produced, and flows beautifully without any pitfalls or disappointments. I’m confident it’s going to be a memorable prog rock record because there are so many musical touches from past notable classics which they hold true to tradition while breaking new ground in the genre.