Camelia Brennan

The Mars Volt: Deloused In The Comatorium

I talk about this probably too much, but De-Loused in the Comatorium by The Mars Volta is a very good album.

As a huge fan of At The Drive In, the future seemed very uncertain after their breakup in 2001. In 2003, I didn’t even know The Mars Volta existed until someone popped this CD into my car stereo. This was the first concept album I ever heard, as well as my first introduction to progressive rock.

Unlike most of my peers, I started my “indie rock” journey with very little exposure to classic rock, or anything that came out before 2001. As a pre-teen, I mostly listened to country and pop radio. My parents were not particularly avid music fans, though I do have one haunting memory of my mother blasting “I Want Your Sex” by George Michael while driving us through the mall parking lot as an apparent ploy to embarrass my sister and I to death. It was always unclear if this was a troll or the result of an actual appreciation of the music of George Michael. To this day, I’m pretty unclear what music my parents like, though I know my mother also enjoys a smooth jazz quartet by the name of Fourplay. This, again, feels more tied to making other people temporarily uncomfortable in conversation than sincere musical taste. I admire her commitment.

I am, of course, forever grateful that my father gifted me his record player in high school, but was always just a little sad I never had a cool uncle from like New Jersey or somewhere who would have introduced me to Rush or like… cool drugs. As a result, I’ve always been slightly self conscious that I lacked the building blocks to talk about music, since I was unable to reference the classics and cite influences easily. This wasn’t a real problem — but I remained jealous of people who could carry on an intelligent conversation about Frank Zappa or The Beatles.

Anyway, back to the actual point — De-Loused in the Comatorium was really groundbreaking to someone like myself, without any background in psychedelic sonic adventures. The first time I heard Cedric Bixler-Zavala’s iconic vocals, as part of an epic concept album about a man in a coma from overdosing, my brain nearly exploded. If being in a week long coma and then dying is anything like this, sign me up! This album seamlessly transports you to a mesmerizing and chaotic place. But you can’t help feeling like you have to see it through to the end each time, and it’s oddly rejuvenating.

It’s so much more than the favorite album of the weird stoner guy you hated being in group projects with in college, but it is also that.