Omar Rodríguez-López and Cedric Bixler-Zavala know the power of surprise. The Mars Volta co-founders, a year after officially breaking up, came out of nowhere a few months ago with new music under the name Antemasque. Last night (via Antiquiet), the punk-charged, prog-chopsy crew released its self-titled album in full via Bandcamp, two weeks ahead of schedule.
Antemasque also features former Volta drummer Dave Elitch, plus guest appearances from Red Hot Chili Peppers and Atoms for Peace bass god Flea. The set includes the four songs Antemasque shared earlier this year: bristling “4AM,” jaggedly frenzied “In the Lurch” (previously titled “Hangin’ in the Lurch”) and billowy, dynamic “People Forget,” plus “Drown All Your Witches,” a bit of moonlit space-folk reminiscent of recently resurgent ’70s cult singer/songwriter Rodriguez. But the album also adds another six tracks, which on an early pass are just as tightly coiled and unpredictable.
While listeners who bought the first four songs were set to receive Antemasque on July 1, the rest of us were supposed to have to wait until July 15. Still, making it up as they go along has been something of Antemasque’s M.O.: Rodríguez-López’s label, Nadie Sound, told me in a statement earlier this year: “If the whole thing looked unplanned, that’s because it was. The anticipation of what the reaction from fans and critics would be was very real for us with every new song we put out.”
Antemasque are touring this summer with Le Butcherettes, the Mexican art-punk trio led by frontwoman Teri Gender and featuring Rodríguez-López on bass — check out their tour dates here, and listen to the album below, or buy it via Bandcamp. Also see: Six Degrees of At the Drive-In’s Relationship of Command.