Frances the Mute CD
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Given that Mars Volta's Omar Rodriquez-Lopez and Cedric Bixler Zavala are ideologues; Afro-haired chin scratchers who believe that Seventies progressive-rock music was alright really but too 'white' and quite possibly a little bit too sheepish for its own good, Frances The Mute--the band's second album--is possibly the absolute wired-to-the-mains apex of indulgent immodesty. Of course, this diamond-encrusted symphonic psych extravaganza of time-signature changes, wild post-Miles Davis electric jazz, writhing punk passion and re-heated Rush has a concept ( albeit one best approached with a knowledge of social science, Latin and a medical dictionary) and a sleeve designed by Pink Floyd associate Storm Thorgerson. However, while there are obvious ancestral salutes to Relayer-era Yes and all tinctures of Pink Floyd, Frances The Mute is restlessly forward-thinking, a thrilling continuation of Mars Volta's multi-cultural prog modernism where a track like "L'Via L'Viaquez" (with guest appearances from the Chili Pepper's Flea and John Frusciante) comes across like something resembling nothing less than a Cuban King Crimson. --Kevin Maidment
Top Customer Reviews
'Frances the Mute' is The Mars Volta's next step into their bizarre land of hardcore techno progressive rock. Their previous efforts have both been mind blowing, using out of the blue tempo changes, huge ranges of instruments and most importantly the ever ingenious pairing of minds that is Cedric Bixler Zavala and Omar A Rodriguez Lopez. Like 'De-loused in the Comatorium', 'Frances' is effectively a long heroine fuelled story on the other side of consciousness, but this time round it's more of an experience when listened to from to start to finish. It only actually consists of five songs, despite my CD player telling me twelve and the track listing telling me something like fifteen. Further confusion is caused by the song 'Frances the Mute''s lyrics appearing inside the CD case, despite there being no such song on the album.
The lyrics are based on a anonymous diary stumbled upon, telling of an abandoned child searching for his parents, but apart from little hints like "I won't forget who I'm looking for" you would never guess so. Since their early days in their former band 'At the Drive-in' Bixler Zavala and Rodriguez Lopez have taunted with words so deep and cryptic that I doubt even they know what they're talking about. This becomes most evident on 'L'Via L'Viaquez' where the verses are sung in what I presume is Spanish; perhaps Latin; perhaps neither. Nonsensical as the words are, make no mistake, they still have a profound effect when sung as emotionally as Bixler Zavala. He pours his heart and soul into the bounding vocal melodies; if this tells the story of a tragedy then it is still unwaveringly upbeat and uplifting, thanks in no small part to the blaring riffs and intricate solos from guitarist Rodriguez Lopez.Read more ›
On this album they've incorporated a lot more instruments and styles to the music and at the same time gone even more crazy in how they use them. Generally this works really well and the use of Spainish lyrics (at least I think it's Spainish) sounds really good, and it's not like their lyrics made any sense anyway... The track listing is as crazy as the music and you get the sense that they added in breaks between tracks on the CD just as a courtesy.
My main complaint would be that sometimes they go a bit too far and venture into the realm of randomness. Four minutes of the same piece of birdsong played over and over again can become tedious very quickly so I just skip past it.
All in all it's a really great album and something completely different. It's worth getting just for the last track alone. It's not for everyone though, I could understand how some people could hate this. If you haven't listened to the Mars Volta before I would recomend their first album over this as it's a lot easier to get into.
So the actual album. Well it is weird, but amazingly interesting. The flashes of punk which filled the 1st long player are still there, but there is overall a much greater sense of experimentation. The first track explodes with a swirling guitar that ATD-I would've been proud of, as fugazi style drum riffs punctuate the stop start dynamics. This is almost mars volta by numbers, until Rodriguez (who produced much of the album) slurs the riff into dreamy ambience. When the Mars Volta really shine is when they are at their weirdest, their most unexpected. L'Via Viaquez is perhaps the best track on the album, as a wailing guitar is set over precise salsa tempo drums and bass. The musicianship is breathtaking, the dynamics awe inspiring and the timing exquisite to say the least. My personal favourite track is the breathtakingly haunting Miranda That Ghost Just Isn't Holy Anymore, flea's trumpet melding beautifully with the pained vocals of Bixler.Read more ›
Luckily I bought the CD (prefer to have a physical object to really focus the attention) and I can't stop listening to it. There are so many exhilarating moments, both vocal and instrumental, throughout the 70 minutes of this album. You have to give it your full attention, sit down with it and pay attention.
It's magnificent! As a 42 year old it's been a long time since a record exhilarated me like new music used to do when I was 15 but this takes me right back. Discovered it 11 years late but who cares?
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Bring me more, need to purchase more like this. Great stuff.Published on 31 July 2014 by Howard Grove
The record company that I bought this from have given very good service but I picked a right lemon with this one I must have meant to select the one next to it or something , I... Read morePublished on 8 Feb. 2014 by a guy
This is the first TMV album I heard as I came across it in a library and I was familiar with the name and wanted to give it a spin to satisfy my curiosity. Read morePublished on 14 Feb. 2013 by Derek Vinard
I really like 'Deloused in the Comantorium', so why didnt I like there critically acclaimed follow up? Read morePublished on 28 Sept. 2012 by TheWinterSoldier
Well, with how diverse, complex and intriguing this album is, it's a little difficult to quite put into words what listening to it is like. Read morePublished on 25 Jun. 2012 by Naomi
This is not as good as the albums before or after and nothing after track 4 is worth even wasting your time listening toPublished on 25 Feb. 2011 by Conaldo
Can't tell you how glad I am I've just ordered this on vinyl, the format it should be heard on. This is the best album ever written by anyone without a shadow of a doubt, no review... Read morePublished on 17 Oct. 2010 by Finton O'Malley
Frances The Mute, the second studio album by The Mars Volta is one of the most interesting and creative albums ever released. Read morePublished on 18 April 2010 by Kingcrimsonprog
This album has a good couple of tracks on it, however if you know anything about mars volta you'll know they are abstract and a bit 'out there'. Read morePublished on 15 Dec. 2009 by D. Clarke