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The Mars Volta - Frances The Mute CD (album) cover


The Mars Volta


Heavy Prog

4.05 | 841 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

5 stars Masterpiece

This is the first of the Mars Volta reviews I hope to write in the future. This is the second album from this group and it is a good follow up to a strong debut. This is a blend of avant garde, space rock, free jazz, hard rock, and punk. That is the genius of it - combining different genres, and at times in one song! (of course some of the songs are over the ten minute mark, allowing for this type of progressing, Cassandra Gemini being way over the ten minute mark, clocking in at 32:27)

One problem people have with this album is the ambient noise. It is not too much of an issue unless you get aggravated by ambient soundscapes. The ambient sections always have a flow to them and never get dull but some people may feel the need to skip them. Personally I think they add another dimension to the already great masterpiece.

Cygnus..Vismund Cygnus starts out with a great acoustic intro, but soon it goes into what can only be described as craziness. The lyrics start out as English but then..what's this?!? Spanish! Yes, folks, part of the lyrics are in Spanish. At first I did not notice this, as I can understand a bit of the language because I took two years in school, but then I slowly started to notice that it sounded a bit odd. It was only when I looked up the lyrics that I saw it was Spanish. After a while the music calms down a bit and there is an instrumental section. It is contains wonderful guitar work from Omar and a good rhythm. At ten minutes it goes into ambient noise and weird recordings of something. I have no idea what.

The Widow starts off with a spacey feel. Here Cedric shows his singing ability as he changes vocal style a couple of times on this track. The song is in ballad form. This is the most commercial track with the last part cut off for radio play. The last bit is ambient noise. This is something I love, ambient noise. It lets my mind wander and yet still keeps it in one place. The noise has a common theme to it and it is very cool.

L'Via L'Viaquez bursts out of the speakers after 40 seconds of a backwards drum loop. The first 2 guitar solos are played by John Frusciante. They are good but I feel that Omar is abetter guitarist and I don't know why they invited Frusciante to play these guitar parts. Most of this song is sung in Spanish. It has a Latin feel to it and it can draw comparisons to Santana at times. My favourite line from this song is "and with everybody that they find and with every claymore that they mine". This line is repeated a few times I the song and it has a psychedelic feel (musically) when it is said. The guitar playing on this song is great. It ranges from craziness (like the first song - fast, frantic guitar playing) to slow Latin-esque sounds.

Miranda That Ghost Just Isn't Holy Anymore starts off quiet with birds chirping. The song slowly builds up and it has a haunting feeling to it when it is building up. This song is quite calm when compared to the rest of the album. It has a very prominent psychedelic feel to it. The overall atmosphere is dark and it contains a bit of violin. It reminds me of some post rock that I have heard. It has a jazz feel to it with the trumpet (courtesy of Flea - like Frusciante is from Red Hot Chilli Peppers). This song also has ambient soundscapes, something I particularly enjoy.

Cassandra Gemini is the epic of this album, it being a little longer than half an hour. The music reverts back to its craziness. This time saxophones and flutes are added to the music and they do a good job of varying the music. The music is chaotic and it keeps on changing sound form avant garde to punkish hard rock to craziness! Unbelievably good. Guitar solos are great. One problem with this song is the fact that the CD breaks up the epic into 8 tracks. My favourite line from this song is "no there's no light in the darkest of your furthest reaches". It is sung very well and shows some bleakness from the last track. There is a jazzy section (more like back track) in this song with a powerful orchestra like playing of trumpets and sax combined with a violin. Its climax is very powerful and overwhelming. This song is very powerful and full of emotion. It is the track that has the most genres mixed in with its ambient noise, free jazz, rock, and avant garde scattered throughout the 30 minutes of music. The last few minutes of the song is reminiscent of the beginning of the album and if you repeat the whole album you cannot tell when it ends and makes an interesting listening experience.

The concept of the album is a strange one. It is mainly found in the last song Cassandra Gemini. It is based on a journal found in a car by the late Jeremy Wards when he worked as a repo man. It is about a man who was adopted and tried to find his biological parents with various people helping him along the way. The song titles (except the last one which is the main character of the story) are the people that help him find the way to his parents. The CD has a different track list than the official one for a weird reason. They planned on having five tracks but the record company defines this as an EP and the band would not be paid as much as they would for an album. So they broke the epic up to make sure it was classified as an album. An interesting thing to note is that the last track Cassandra Gemini is misspelled as Cassandra Geminni.

Overall this is a great album that should be listened to. But take caution when thinking about buying this album. I would only recommend it after buying the first and third album of The Mars Volta. It is a mix of the first and third albums. This is an album worth getting and is highly enjoyable if listened to when you are in the right mood for such things as described above. 5/5 stars.

progismylife | 5/5 |


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