Last week at work, while creating the dashboard reports for this month’s round of governance boards, I was struck by the idea of creating an Omar Rodríguez-López music matrix. The upper left quadrant would be jazz/experimental, the upper right rock, the lower left electronic/dance, and the lower right pop. This is by no means an exhaustive list of all ORL genres (salsa is missing, to name but one), but using a simplistic visual to map out albums will help me catalogue them, as well as guide me in selecting what to review next.

If Old Money sits in the uppermost right quadrant, its opposite on the lower left would be Tychozorente. They’re both early doors albums, and near polar opposites. It’s his first solo record with nary a guitar present and is also notable because elements of it appear frequently in his later material. The overall vibe is reminiscent of At The Drive-In dub side project De Facto, with a twist of pop via vocalist/lyricist Ximena Sariñana Rivera. Unfortunately, it’s also a pretty mixed bag. The tracks that work are like sweet psychedelic swirls of cotton candy, but they’re surrounded by clunky spoken word pieces that disturb the flow of the album experience.

It begins very promisingly with “Los Siete Sermones a los Muertos”. Succulent wub-wub synth and clicky beats counter Ximena’s near-hesitant vocals. It’s a dreamy, soft song, and whilst far from a banger, it’s definitely the most upbeat track.

“Polaridad” is the album’s standout song, balancing creepy carnival-after-closing-time mellotron with plinky xylophone. I probably would have enjoyed this as much if it had been Omar singing, but as it is, I love Ximena’s soft sighing Spanish. As an instrumental, it would have had a much more menacing feel, but here it’s pleasantly trippy.

Where on more guitar-oriented albums there will be a slower cushion song between tracks, lest we rock too hard and injure ourselves, lower left quadrant albums will have often have chillout segue tracks. But perhaps because Tychozorente is such a low-fi affair, the segue tracks are spoken word pieces that blend into one another for no apparent reason. “La Paradoja Divina” and “Contra Suspiros” may as well have been one title. I’m all for spoken word, and I’m sure the work ORL did with Lydia Lunch is dope, but here they feel randomly dropped in. They’re also way too long. Having said that, these tracks serve as a breadcrumb trail leading to later albums. I spent ages trying to figure out where I heard “Disheartening Envelope” from Weekly Mansions before, and now I know it was born of these tracks. It actually first appeared on Octopus Kool Aid as “Células Hermosas” and also on Roman Lips for the song “To Need Something”. But having said that, I still don’t particularly want to listen to this version.

“El Todo” glitters over an uptempo beat, but on another album would have been a bit of a snoozefest. It does flow well into “Piedras y Ansiedad”, which only makes the non-Ximena tracks clank harder. This is another breadcrumb trail track – the outro has cropped up several times in other albums – as “Metallic Sweating for the Rich”, again from Weekly Mansions, and then again on Gorilla Preacher Cartel as “Solo Dios Lo Permite”.

It would have been a sensible way to end, but “El Ritual Como Fin En Si Mismo” and “Consecuencias” crash out somewhat atonally over more spoken word. It’s a disappointing end to a patchy album notable mainly for its abiding influence and forays into the dance zone.

There is a lot to love on this album, namely everything with Ximena, but the rest is too disjointed and muddy. It’s not that I have beef with the lack of guitars; over time I’ve shed most of my rockist tendencies, and I adore Weekly Mansions, which is also 100% guitar-free. But I’d rather listen to that and put all the Ximena tracks from Tychozorente on my ORL favourites mega playlist, and skip-to-the-end everything else.

Track listing
Los Siete Sermones a los Muertos (The Seven Sermons to the Dead)
Polaridad (Polarity)
La Paradoja Divina (The Divine Paradox)
Contra Suspiros (Against Sighs)
El Todo (Everything)
Piedras y Ansiedad (Stones and Anxiety)
El Ritual Como Fin En Si Mismo (The Ritual As An End In Itself)
Consecuencias (Consequences)