One cursory glance at the cover of the latest album by El Paso based Zechs Marquise would lead the listener to believe they were about to listen to an album of intense bass laden funk or an album of children’s songs by the Animal Kwackers. Three of the band members are brothers Marcel, Marfred and Rikardo Rodriguez-Lopez, who are brothers of The Mars Volta’s Omar, so a certain rich family heritage in progressive music may be apparent from the offset. The production is razor sharp as is befitting an album that is both technically proficient and intricate, as it is soulful and, yes, funky as hell.
The title track, and opening piece ‘Getting Paid’ starts with an echo which is reminiscent of any number of electronic synthesiser tunes, before the funk encumbered bass pushes any belief of that aside to make way for a mathematically complex series of riffs and phrases which mark out the characteristics of this album early on. ‘Lock Jaw Night Vision’ retains the qualities of the previous track, but is somehow also infused with further levels of energy, exhilaration and haste which give it a need to sweep the funk to one side. There are any number of tempo and mood changes within its’ 5 short minutes to bewilder the first time listener.
‘Static Lovers’ opens as if it were the soundtrack to a mid 1950’s science fiction film, replete with otherworldly sound effects and alien landscapes, before the jazz funk careers through the atmosphere. The guitar here would not be out of place on some of the most respected classic jazz based albums. Surprisingly, ‘Static Lovers’ is the first time that any vocal of any description is apparent on the album, which comes in the form of some peculiar Latin space chant.
A 7 minute swim in the pool of luscious female vocal, courtesy of Sunnie Baker, and mystifying cacophony of instrumentation that is ‘The Heat, The Drought, The Thirst and The Insanity’ keeps the listener involved and, if they have made it this far, enthralled. The keyboards evoke the same era of jazz funk that the guitar work on ‘Static Lovers’ brought to mind previously. The brief, almost video game soundtrack like ‘Time Masters’, provides brief lull before the Latin funk groove reappears on ‘Guajira’. Far from pedestrian Latin funk however, with a chunky guitar solo that could have come from the strings of Carlos Santana, ‘Guajira’ has that unique essence that gives “Getting Paid” its credentials. ‘Everlasting Beacon of Light Final Master’ stands out from the rest of the album in its warped rhythm, and almost hip hop urban sensibility.
Just when the unwary listener thought that every conceivable element of music could have been used to create this journey, ‘Mega Slap’ closes the album with fundamentals of all the previous pieces, dubstep, rides through the galaxy to a soundtrack of funky guitar, bass and drums, intricate time signature changes and frenetic blankets of robotic sound effects. If these elements brought together sound too much in too short a space of time, do not be put off Earthling, the outing is certainly worth the risk.