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The Mars Volta

The Mars Volta

Date: Feb 25 2008

Themes: Alternative, Music


1. Learn Vocabulary - Learn some new vocabulary before you start the lesson.

2. Read and Prepare - Read the introduction and prepare to hear the audio.

The Mars Volta’s music often seems to come from another world. Guitar solos played in scales that sound so strange the band probably made them up themselves come out of the speakers at high speeds. The rhythm can change from a Latin beat to punk and back within a minute. Electronic effects are often used on the vocals and the lyrics sound like a book of poetry read backwards.

But you might actually be able to hear the spirits on the Mars Volta’s latest album, The Bedlam in Goliath, The band claims to have been communicating with the dead while they were recording. Listen to Marni tell Jason about it.


1. Listen and Read - Listen to the audio and read the dialog at the same time.

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2. Study - Read the dialog again to see how the vocab words are used.





Marni:  So I was just listening to NPR and they were talking about the new Mars Volta record.

Jason:  Oh yeah, what’s the concept this time?

Marni:  Apparently it’s about a Ouija board. It has a lot to do with this Ouija board they bought and they felt like it was really talking to them and all this weird stuff started happening, like the recording studio flooded and I guess it got really intense to the point where they literally took it, destroyed it and buried it so they could finish recording it.

Jason:  All the drugs they do probably helped them think that the Ouija board was talking to them.

Marni:  Yeah, I think they do a few substances a little. I mean, their music is weird. I don’t know if I’m really into it.

Jason:  What does the new album sound like?

Marni:  It’s kind all over the map. They’re obviously very skilled musicians, you know, a lot of weird time signatures, all that sort of, you know, Rush-y kinda…

Jason:  But is it just really schizophrenic, like the bit that you heard?

Marni:  Yes. I would say that’s a good…

Jason:  Because I love how virtuosic they are and how weird their sounds are, but sometimes I think they just need to focus.

Marni:  Exactly! It’s just a little too all over the place.

Jason:  Make one song.

Marni:  Yeah, exactly, I agree with you. But it was definitely interesting. I mean, I gotta give ‘em credit, and the story’s intriguing.



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Marni heard some of the new Mars Volta album on the radio. Since previous Mars Volta albums have been made around concepts like dreams in a coma, Jason asks what the concept of the record is this time.

Marni says that the album is based on an experience the band had with a Ouija board, which is board with letters on it that some people believe can be used to communicate with spirits and the dead. When the studio flooded and things started going wrong with the recording, the band decided to destroy the Ouija board and bury it. They finished the album OK after that.

It’s an interesting story, but Marni isn’t sure if she likes the album. She and Jason agree that sometimes the Mars Volta’s music all over the place. Marni thinks it sounds like Rush sometimes, and there’s no doubt that any band that sounds like Rush has got to be a group of amazing musicians.

Grammar Point:
If you listen to the audio, you might find the pronunciation of “Ouija” a little bit confusing. It’s pronounced “WEE-gee,” and no one’s quite sure where the word came from. Since the word doesn’t sound like it starts with a vowel, it’s proper to say “a Ouija” instead of “an Ouija.” It’s capitalized because it’s a trademark. But it’s a common term that’s applied to similar products that aren’t part of the trademark. It’s like how the word “Coke” can actually refer to any soft drink.



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Viet Nam

why write?

03:46 AM Feb 25 2008 |

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