Frances The Mute
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Japanese special edition pressing adds a bonus DVD (region 2) with3 live tracks and an audio only track. Universal. 2005.
If one needed further proof of the contemporary revival/reassessment of the ambitiously overwrought sensibilities once so reviled in 70's rock, this aggressively mind-bending second album by The Mars Volta offers it up in spades. Band mainstays Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and Cedric Baxter-Zavala insist that labels like "prog" don't interest them, and that this is emphatically not a "sequel" to 2003's De-Loused in the Comatorium. What it is was thematically inspired by a stranger's diary allegedly found by late bandmate Jeremy Ward, the basis for an expansive, often amorphous musical head-trip that brews psychedelia, trance, hard-rock and free-jazz into a daunting new whole. The dozen tracks here represent but five "songs" proper, though the band's disdain for conventional track banding inspire it to sound more like a stream-of-consciousness soundscape from Can--or a dark, lyrically inventive, if decidedly troubled corner of their ids. On the "Umbilical Syllables" portion of "Cygnus.." and "The Widow" Bixter-Zavala invokes the wailing, Zeppelin II & III spirit of Robert Plant set against a feverish, swirling melange that's anything but the blues. The vocalist coaxes "L' Via l'Viaquez" en Espanol, while his band indulges its space-mambo conceits with an evocative spirit that recalls Latin Playboys at their most mischievous. It's an album that loops back on itself in a haunting ellipse--and one whose boundless ambition makes Pink Floyd sound like three-chord bar punters by comparison. --Jerry McCulley
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Top Customer Reviews
I had heard their first album described as "prog-punk", if there is such a thing, and it seemed like the best description I had heard. With Frances the Mute, I would definetely place them squarely in the prog-rock category, with a hint of punk splashed in. No matter how you classify their music, if you liked De-loused in the Comatorium, or are just a fan of great prog music in general, you will love Frances the Mute.
"Frances the Mute" does a pretty good job of doing just that. Without sacrificing the creepy overtones and wild sound, the Mars Volta opts for a new, stranger sound that is a bit less rock and a bit more prog. "L'Via L'Viaquez" has a sizzling riff that is louder than anything else on the album, while "Cygnus...Vismund Cygnus" sounds like a metal band going slowly insane.
Not that they've lost their metal/funk/punk/Latin/experimental edge -- some parts of it are just more prominent. Mostly it's the prog and funk... and just try to imagine what that sounds like. Songs like the half-hour "Cassandra Gemini" happily flit from one style to another, with a sense of true rock grandeur, while songs like "Miranda that Ghost Just Isn't Holy Anymore" has an ambient flavor.
Perhaps the one problem is that instead of one sprawling concept album, like their first, this is apparently multiple "acts" put together. A few songs simply putter out, like lackluster "The Widow." But the explosive energy of almost every other song is enough to make up for "The Widow's" flaws.
In a nutshell, you don't know what to expect from the Mars Volta in any given song. They can draw you in with a simple riff or quiet melody, before launching into a screaming, frenetic jumble of Latin-prog-psychedelica-acid-jazz. It's dizzying; the instrumentation is as wild and abstract as their dark, bizarre songwriting.Read more ›
This is a challenging work, no question about it and I may grow to like it more than I do now, but if like me you didn't love every aspect of De-Loused, you may want to pass. Those that thoroughly devoured the last CD will probably relish the effort it will take to really get into Frances the Mute. While I think this is a mis-step, I applaud Mars Volta for trying to push their style further into even more challenging areas and not follow up with a complete retread of what they have done previously. If they could stop with the 3-minute interludes of ambient noise and sounds, I think the next CD may be the worthy successor to De-loused.
Most recent customer reviews
It may be a used copy, but that does not matter. This album, is a BEAST. Just being able to hold hte vinyl in my hands is too mind blowing for words. Thank you soooo much.Published on May 3 2013 by Levi
I picked up this CD just because I'd heard all kinds of positive comments about the 'prog rock' nature of their music. Read morePublished on Dec 5 2007 by The Sarnia Kid
Excellent album. If you're a true fan of the band, the DVD includes a live performance by the band, which I believe is in Tokyo from their previous tour to De-loused. Read morePublished on Dec 21 2005
Spectacular. I had never really heard any music by The Mars Volta, but when "The Widow" hit the radios, the song grew on me. Read morePublished on July 20 2005 by DRLDivision
Frances the Mute = Wow x 10^Wow
Finally, a band that bends the rules for what songs can be. There was no corporate producer telling them how their music had to sound. Read more
This is one of the best CDs I ever bought. The first five minutes or so will drive you crazy, but it just provides contrast for the rest of the album which will blow your mind.Published on March 24 2005 by Richard J. Lorenz
Well I was hooked from the first note on this energetic and talented composition. From my perspective Mars Volta is the second coming of 'Yes', with the Buena Vista Social Club... Read morePublished on March 19 2005 by Catherine MacArthur
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