Editor’s Note: The Albumism staff has selected what we believe to be 50 fantastic first solo albums recorded by artists who departed—or simply took a temporary hiatus from—their respective groups, representing a varied cross-section of genres, styles and time periods. Click “Next Album” below to explore each album or view the full album index here.
OMAR RODRIGUEZ-LOPEZ | A Manual Dexterity: Soundtrack Volume One
Gold Standard Laboratories (2004)
Selected by Stephen Lee Naish
Maybe we can’t consider At the Drive-In and Mars Volta’s lead guitarist Omar Rodriguez-Lopez’s debut 2004 solo record A Manual Dexterity: Soundtrack Volume One the very best of his work. But in a discography that now pushes 50-plus solo records and countless other side-projects, as well as his involvement in bands such as Bosnian Rainbows, Antemasque and Crystal Fairies, it makes for a reasonable leaping off point into the creative pool of Rodriguez-Lopez’s collective works in music, film, photography and writing.
The record is a sprawling montage of distorted guitar squeals, ambient soundscapes ruptured by digital squalls, found sound and the occasional Cedric Bixlar vocal. As a record, it’s an avant-garde experience best listened to through a pair of solid headphones. What is intriguing about the record is that is forms a soundtrack to a film made by Rodriguez-Lopez that has yet to see the light of day. More intriguing is that Volume 2 has been recorded yet remains unreleased. So instantly there is a mysterious quality to the record that requires the listener to respond.
A Manual Dexterity: Soundtrack Volume One works best when we consider it not a singular piece of work or even a debut record as such, but take it as a movement within the massive and sprawling, non-linear narrative of Rodriguez-Lopez’s talent and creative works.