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


The Mars Volta


Heavy Prog

4.07 | 1006 ratings

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4 stars The Mars Volta - Frances the Mute 4 stars

An excellent album: hindered by noise and sound manipulation to be something of musical nirvana.

The Mars Volta comes back after their groundbreaking debut in superb form. They cut back on the number of songs and increased the length of the CD on this release. This is certainly a mark of progression and maturity from an outside scope, but when you listen to this CD, you cannot deny the gross amount of 'noise' thrown on this work. I tend to no exaggeration, and my version of just 'noise' is high frequency pitches being blasted, CD skipping and effects that are manipulated for minutes. As fellow reviewer ZowieZiggy stated, there can be 10 minutes taken off this CD, I would have to disagree. I would say at least 15 minutes could have been hacked off this masterwork. Now, enough with the negatives.

I like this CD a lot. At first, I would have given this a very high 3, but it has warmed up to me when I got past the noise and focused on when I was hearing the 'real' music. Omar wrote all the music and the horn and string arrangements which were aided by David Cambell. Cedric once again does the entirety of the vocal and lyrical work, a great job again. Since there are only 5 songs.I will just go song-by-song.

'Cygnus..Vismund Cygnus' is about as great as a song can get. The intro consists of an acoustic guitar interlude which is very melancholic and sappy. Cedric accompanies with some voice after one go around. When the intro closes, a pompous guitar riff is brought out of nowhere and the song is fired up without warning. By this time all the instruments are wailing away, chaotic, but in sync. The chorus is also a sweet one to, which again, just comes right out of left field. An atmospheric middle section is tagged in the middle and then past ideas are brought into play again. In my opinion, this is a very representative song of Volta. It has the chaos and subtleties that define their new brand of music. By the way, there is about 2 minutes of just 'noise' in the end. This is the least of troubles.

'The Widow' is a decent rock track. Somewhat like 'Televators' on the first album but with a catchy chorus. This track takes a heavy hit in my point of view because of the three minutes of noise that just ruins the whole song. Was this an attempt to make a mainstream track, but avoid suspicions by added terrible 'noise' at the end? Part of my reason this album cannot be essential.

'L' Via l'Viaquez' is another great song. It features some of Omar's best guitar work to date. He really takes a great role in providing some great rhythms and some rippage on the fretboard when necessary. Kind of like the title, there is a Spanish vibe to the song.

'Miranda That Ghost Just Isn't Holy Anymore' suffers from about 5 minutes of noise in the beginning. I honestly cannot understand the point in it, because the track is great. I find this to really be a song for Cedric. Omar mostly sits in the background of this one, playing in a Barrett style, which is a big influence on The Mars Volta. The main feast of this song is the horn work that is very nicely arranged. Great verse and chorus mixed with the horns makes it an awesome track in my eyes. Once again, there is a good 4 minutes of noise to end this song.

'Cassandra Geminni' is roughly a 32 minute epic and one of the best in the decade. It is not perfect but a really good one; making it shorter could have helped. There are really only one or two places where things started to get a little seamy. With all the different verses and choruses brought about in this piece made it consistent and brilliant. The outro also closes out the album bring the chorus from the first section and then the intro from 'Cygnus..Vismund Cygnus'. All of the apparent influences can be heard in this song. I agree with most of the accusations being Syd Barrett, Pink Floyd, King Crimson and Led Zeppelin.

This album had potential to be something really beautiful but was a little ruined for me. But my faith in the band was still strong as ever, since I knew they were capable. This album bought me over into supporting them until the end. I highly recommend this to someone looking for something new and energetic.

ProgBagel | 4/5 |


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