2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
FRANCES THE MUTE, 3 May 2009
I bought this album the year it came out, after having watched The Mars Volta and being completely blown away by their mesmerising and powerful live show. Many of the reviews here seem to assosciate The Mars Volta with Pink Floyd, Zeppelin etc but I find these comparisons not very useful in trying to get across a sense of The Mars Volta. In my opinion, such an enigmatic, and yet at the same time dramatic, band, do not really fully reward the listener who looks to drop the sound into musical categories. Listening to the Mars Volta's Frances The Mute, you might find their organic sound and some high pitched singing to be slightly alike a Zeppelin sound, but settle into it and, for example, listen to the weird structures of sound, the way the sounds are arranged around eachother, the way sounds and instruments emerge out of eachother, and you will begin to realise that this is a totally different experience, and that The Mars Volta are too amorphous (in the space of a song, let alone the album) to be pinned down. Might it help you to understand the album by me telling you that each time I give it a listen, I get totally different impressions from it?
This is a beautiful and powerful album,yet perhaps challenging if one doesn't have the time and stamina-of-attention-span to appreciate such a dense piece of work.
So, after this introduction about the difficulty of describing such an experimental and shifting album, I'll give some simpler impressions of the music:
Some simpler suggestions: You might note that without Rick Rubin, Mars Volta have a 'rawer' and much more organic and loose approach, it feels like they are stretching out more and have been unconstrained- allowing themselves to express their freeform compositions with characteristic energy and intensities. Take, for example, Cassandra Gemini, a song that really takes the album into another dimension, with its intense and electrifying openings folding out into all sorts of strange shapes and decompositions, with Cedrics utterly haunting, powerful and variable voicings hinting at a strange ritual?experience?altered state? while dramatic moments appear and carry stuttered sounds into new forms. I highly recommend this song (in my opinion, it really shows Omar and Cedric's talents as composer and singer respectively) and the album as an experience willing to yield a huge variety of riches to the careful and appreciative listener. I hope you enjoy it.