El Paso has been the talk of progressive rock music for many years now. With progressive latin band The Mars Volta devastating audiences in venues around the world over the span of a decade, their origins of El Paso became the talk of many. Marcel Rodriguez-Lopez has been a driving force in the percussion area of Volta’s sound since mid 2000′s and more recently has contributed more keyboard and synth parts to the live shows. Marcel is a really gifted drummer who has been playing on records of his older brother Omar Rodriguez-Lopez for many years now. Marcel has been dedicating a lot time to another project of his, Zechs Marquise. The release of a second full length, Getting Paid, has come forth this year and is a record we have had on constant rotation since it was released. Zechs Marquise is a group that is as beautiful, progressive, enlightening, raw and electrifying as The Mars Volta. If you have been fortune enough to see a live show, there is nothing I can really tell you that you don’t know.
In 2009, Zech’s Marquise gave the world Our Delicate Stranded Nightmare, a full length debut that was released on 2xLP with Willie Anderson Recordings in Netherlands and on digital and cd formats with Rodriguez Lopez Productions. Included with core members Marfred Rodriguez-Lopez (bass), Marcel Rodriguez-Lopez (keys), Marcos Smith (guitar) and Matthew Wilkson (guitar) is guest appearances from Adrián Terrazas-González (The Mars Volta, T.R.A.M., El Regimen) playing saxophone, Michael Farraro adding drums and trumpet contributions from Rikardo Rodriguez-Lopez. The high velocity of their live shows was still something that was not fully captured with this release. Could that ever be? As good as Our Delicate Stranded Nightmare is, the production work and compositions on their newest LP Getting Paid is testament to the fact that yes, it can be.
Getting Paid is one of the newest releases from Los Angeles based media production organization Sargent House Records and the ominous Rodriguez Lopez Productions. 12 tracks and a little under an hour, Getting Paid was recorded at Eureka’s Castle and Castle Grayskull in El Paso, Texas. Including the same core members as the previous record, Marcel Rodriguez-Lopez takes over drums duties along with the keyboard and synthesizer additions. Guest additions this time around come from Matt Embree of RX Bandits, El Paso singer Sonny Baker and incredible remix work from Low End Theory’s DJ Nobody, Brainfeeder recording artist Charles Dickerson aka Mono/Poly and Eureka The Butcher.
The ground covered on Getting Paid is staggering when considering the type of rhythms, time changes, effects being used and the overall tools utilized from the band to create this body of work. The record starts off with the title song and doesn’t leave any time getting right into the type of wild vehicle of expression that is present on every track. As soon as the band breaks out into the mix together, they drop out and Marcel runs a small sequence of a snake like melody that continues into the section started in the beginning that is reprised. Compositional value is a must when age comes into those creating the music, and Getting Paid is a really advanced album in that area.
‘Lack Jaw Night Vision’ has that voodoo Latin punk groove that his group Volta was slamming out show after show in the number ‘Drunkship of Lanters’. With cross diving guitar patterns that dance all over the mix, there is a very devious and dark sound present on this record. All of this winds up into an 8-bit video game soundtrack sound, you’d think this was an Advantage song at certain moments. A little after two minutes, the song breaks down into a hazy thick Latin rock groove with some of the best recorded percussion I have heard in a long time. All of those nice wavering sheets of layers and layers of effects that Omar Rodriguez-Lopez has become known for are all over this record. The guitar work can be tricky at times from Marcos Smith and Matthew Wilkson, blanketing itself in the hologram of another instrument.
My favorite song on the record has to be ‘Guajira’. Starting off with a percussion heavy intro, the guitar that makes up the first section sounds really elegant, spacey with lots of complexion. A lot of this album took me to the experiences I had with the Omar Rodriguez-Lopez record Apocalypse Inside of an Orange. If you are unfamiliar, it has that really dreamy car ride along a coast feel, very hypnotic and smooth. If you are familiar with Apocalypse Inside of an Orange, Getting Paid has the same type of sonic variation and mature composition work as that album. Getting Paid is something you really need to check out for yourself.
The album cover work was designed by Zeque Peña with layout by the one and only Sonny Kay. With a nod to Marvel and DC Comics alumni Bill Sienkiewicz and more particularly his cover work for RZA’s Bobby Digital in Stereo, there is even the same surround sound cymbal, with this cover instead saying “in MEGASLAP SURROUND”. The cover design also portrays the album art for soundtrack scores to blaxploitation era films of the 60′s and 70′s. Soundtrack scores from pivotal soul, fusion, jazz and r&b artists like Roy Ayers, George Duke, Groover Washington Jr, and so many more. For this lovely cover, an owl, lion, gorilla and elephant represent the members of the band behind a backdrop of tranquil and relaxing colors with all of the characters on the cover representing the classic b-boy stance. Ancient Egypt to a low rider, the cover of Getting Paid is one I don’t even know where to begin when it comes to analyzing. Maybe it is best served that way.
The following is an excerpt from the press release Sargent House gave for this record:
The album was entirely produced and engineered by Marcel. “We started off recording percussion to sequencers and loops,” he explains. “I chopped those sounds up and arranged them. From there, we wrote the album with each of us coming in and playing on top of it. Kind of like a hip-hop song.” Considering the hectic tour schedules of both Zechs Marquise and The Mars Volta (in which Marcel plays keyboards and percussion), the band was forced to work on the album over an extended period of time in between both band’s tours. “It gave us a lot of time to get perspective on the songs,” Marfred says. “We’re really happy with and proud of this record.”
Once all parts were composed using the studio as a tool, the band re-recorded the album live. “We wanted something to represent our live energy,” says Marfred.
Getting Paid goes in my book for one of the best progressive rock albums of 2011. The cross merging cultures of todays age are a reflection of where we are going and Zechs Marquise is a group who will surely be heading one of these many new frontiers of sound. Below we have included a very recent video from video production house Terror Eyes for Zechs Marquise performing the title track from Getting Paid in Los Angeles in late September of this year. Enjoy!
By Erik Otis
Rodriguez Lopez Productions
All music and lyrics written by Zechs Marquise. Produced by Marcel Rodriguez-Lopez.
- Getting Paid
- Lock Jaw Night Vision
- Static Lovers
- The Heat, The Drought, The Thirst, And The Insanity
- Time Masters
- Everlasting Beacon Of Light
- Crushin’ It!
- Mega Slap
- Static Lovers (Eureka The Butcher Remix)
- Mega Slap (DJ Nobody Remix)
- Guajira (Mono/Poly Swagadelic Remix)
Terror Eyes Music Video of Zechs Marquise performing live in LA this last September:
Los Angeles, CA
Camera: Sean Stout / Chase Ortega
Edit: Sean Stout
Zechs Marquise Winter Tour Dates
11/15 Houston, TX @ Fitzgerald’s – Upstairs
11/16 New Orleans, LA @ Howlin’ Wolf Den
11/18 Chapel Hill, NC @ Local 506
11/19 Greenville, NC @ Tipsy Teapot
11/20 Washington, DC @ DC9
11/21 Philadelphia, PA @ Kung Fu Necktie
11/22 Allston, MA @ O’Brien’s Pub
11/23 New York, NY @ Irving Plaza $
11/25 Toronto, ON @ The Opera House $
11/26 Pittsburgh, PA @ Altar Bar $
11/27 Milwaukee, WI @ The Pabst Theater $
11/28 Cleveland Heights, OH @ Grog Shop $
11/30 Atlanta, GA @ The Loft $
12/01 Cincinnati, OH @ 20th Century Theater $
12/02 Chicago, IL @ Bottom Lounge $
12/03 Pontiac, MI @ iLounge (at Clutch Cargos) $
12/04 Rochester, NY @ Montage Music Hall $
12/06 St Louis, MO @ The Firebird
12/07 Lawrence, KS @ Jackpot Music Hall
12/08 Dallas, TX @ Bryan Street Tavern
12/09 Austin, TX @ Antone’s Night Club
12/10 San Antonio, TX @ Studio 13