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Frances the Mute by The Mars Volta

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Reviewed on 2nd March 2005.


Frances the Mute

By The Mars Volta

Ok I know that The Mars Volta have always been a bit of a controversial subject, bit like marmite really; you either love them or you hate them. The latest offering from the afro hair helmets sees them spread their bizarre concepts of music production further than their previous offering. I'm still trying to figure out which songs are which and the fact that the songs ordered into chapters and sub-chapters makes for a bit of a brain freeze. Some will say that all this is just another pretentious part of The Mars Volta enigma, well I say shut up I don't give a flying rats arse it's the music that counts so go back listening to Keane, sorry I digress.

Anyway, Frances the Mute is basically an extension of what the band has been trying to do before and like before it is better to listen to this album as a whole rather than individual songs if you want the true experience. The band expands their ensemble further by employing a heavy armada of electronic gizmos, gadgetry and more traditional instruments such as violins, mandarins, clarinets and the Mexican international symphony orchestra. This album sees a heavy Spanish influence with a splash of crack and speed, even half the lyrics are in Spanish, and as if it wasn't hard enough to figure out what the hell Cedric is trying to wail at the top of his lungs.

All the tracks on the album seem to flow together like chapters in a book; once again there is the heavy emphasis of overdrawn out improvisation and a heavier emphasis upon movements rather than verses so we get the usual twelve minute tracks, but still doesn't half beat Mogwai's half an hour redemption of My Father My King.

The first track "Cygnus... Vismund Cygnus: Sarcophagi" is a thirteen minute epic explosion not seen since the big bang with Cedric and Omar playing vocal tennis with an explosion of fanfares and Spanish guitars. The album dives left right and centre and songs such as the recent single "The Widow" still show that The Mars Volta are able to create classic tunes that do not require a weekend marathon to listen to. Omar once again shows us why he's becoming one of the most influential guitarists of our generation as he produces riffs that we can only wish of creating in our dreams, with Flea and John Frusciante making their second guest appearances. The drumming is once again tighter than size six pair of jeans and the production on the album is near perfect with strange time signatures and more emphasis on off beats.

The Mars Volta have again created a totally self-immersed epic album that has no intention of conforming to traditions and rules, and I can't wait to see them live.



All replies to this article. Log in to post a reply.

On 2nd March 2005 at 20:52 Anonymous 3193 wrote...

I quite like bits of the first album but too many parts veer on the wrong side of Santana for my liking. From the looks of several reviews this one's full of those bits. Those god damn crazy afro kids are mad.


On 5th March 2005 at 17:15 Anonymous 3756 wrote...

I love this album, such a diverse piece of work. It should be worshipped


On 28th May 2005 at 09:54 Anonymous 4015 wrote...

Hahaha, 'mandarin' :-D


On 28th May 2005 at 11:39 Anonymous 4167 wrote...

I LOVE THIS ALBUM MORE THAN LIFE ITSELF. Its an album that shows you how music/ songs can be made outside of the 3 and a half minute box and prog is the way baby!



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