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

FRANCES THE MUTE

The Mars Volta

 

Heavy Prog

4.04 | 722 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

frenchie
Prog Reviewer
5 stars I waited for this album for so long. Ever since i heard the first little rumour i've been desperate to hear this album. I started to hear a lot of news which made me long for it even more, such as the fact that Omar and Cedric are rumoured to have given up their lifelong habit of drug abuse after they were stunned by the death of Jeremy Micheal Ward, their sound manipulater. This would definetly hint towards a change in concept and sound for the next album as deloused was undoubtedly a drug induced trip of brilliant progressive soundscapes, blending psychadelia, hard rock and general insaneness! To all of those forum regulars, you know how obsessed with this band i am, and i am so proud of myself because i managed to resist downloading the pre-release version of the album in January and waiting forl the proper release! My friend Giacas downloaded this album in January and to my surprise he thought it was incredible and kept telling me how good it was, which added to my temptation!

When i first heard that the album would be a 77 minute epic with only 5 tracks i leapt for joy. The Mars Volta are a band that have gained commercial respect after the success and influence of former band At the Drive In, so their music has been under the eye of the more commercial side of music, something that isn't too common in prog rock, at least not since the 70s. In the UK, Zane Lowe (one of my idols), MTV2's presenter and host of their brilliant show, Gonzo, has supported The Mars Volta, spreading the word about their music, which he often does for bands that dont tend to follow commercial music patterns or have trouble getting recognition. This really helped turn the music industry, especially music magazines to prog for the first time properly since the giants of prog were in their prime (eg Yes, Pink Floyd, Genesis, King Crimson... you know the score!). Every review i have seen of this calls it a masterpiece. Thats exactly what it is.

Frances the Mute is a landmark in progressive music, one of the best albums since it all began.

Deloused in the Comatorium is one of my favourite albums of all time. A masterpiece. Frances the Mute is every bit as good as that album, maybe better, but it is definetly a masterpiece in a whole different way. I think this album will be a lot more appealing musically as it sounds like a pure prog album, taking a lot more influences from the giants of prog, yet it has a very very strong mars volta sound. This one is less of a rackett and more musically based, Omar sounds even better on the guitar! Has anyone noticed how peaches en regalia "L'via l'viaquez" sounds around the 9 minute mark?!

Juan Alderette takes over on the bass, Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers contributes some excellent trumpet work! John Frusciante plays alongside Omar really well on L'via, producing a very latin feel. These guys are making much better music here than they ever ventured on in RHCP. This is one of the most original pieces of music i've ever heard, taking so much influence from hard rock, psychadelia, latin rock and post rock, with touches of symphonic orchestral, keyboard and brass work, classic guitar solos, and eerie ambient sounds.

The whole of this album was written and composed by Omar A Rodruiquez- Lopez, yet he allowed the rest of the band to have a great input and add their own magic into this amazing formula. Cedric pushes his voice to even further lyrics, whether its the upbeat frantic vocals of Cygnus, the breathtaking vocal harmonies of "The Widow", the haunting and emotional wailings on Miranda or the electronic masking on the closing epic, Cedric has left me stunned on this album (and i thought he was one of the best vocalists i've ever heard when i listen to Deloused). The whole band have outdone themselves here. The Mars Volta have shook off their hardcore punk, druggy roots and have progressed to making music this beautiful. Omar's guitar work sounds a lot more organised and more inviting. "Cygnus.... Vismund Cygnus" shows off some similar guitar patterns to the previous album, played amazingly with lots of attention to detail. His best moments on this album lie in the solo to "The Widow", that incredible guitat intro to "L'via" and that erupting solo 3 minutes into the same track.

The band seem a lot more comfortable playing together and i cant wait to see them live on Wednesday. Ikey once again, excells in keyboard playing, one of the best guitarists ive seen since the likes of Rick Wakeman, Anglagard and Dream Theaters keyboard work. I think he gets a much better sound out of this album as the keyboards seem a lot more appropriately placed and organised than on the debut. Jon Theodore has less more frantic drumming and more paced and consistent drumming this time round. Juan alderette is much more suited bassist in terms of prog. His best work is on "Cygnus" and "Cassandra Gemmini". Marcel, Omar's brother replaces Jeremy and seems to fit right into the band.

"Cygnus.... Vismund Cygnus" is an epic and a great way to kick off this masterpiece. The basic acoustic intro sounds earpleased and shows off that beautiful voice, then it errupts into loud madness, insantly showing a great change in sound since deloused, yet keeping a similar style going. The use of foreign lyrics works really well and that backing chorus just drives me wild! It just comes in so perfectly! When Omar lingers with the "my my my", it feels almost orgasmic. This piece is so upbeat that it is instantly enjoyable. I love that insane, bassy, electronic section that begins just before 3:20. It just blows my mind.This track weaves in and out of mellow and rocking moments, flowing superbly. There are no breaks inbetween this album which makes it even more of a treat (as well as a challenge, but thats easy for us proggers!) to listen to.

"The Widow" is definetly the weakest track. When i first heard this track on its own before the album was released i was worried. I thought the first 3 minutes were insanely amazing, The lyrics and vocals made my heart melt! I almost fell in love with this track, Omars guitar sound is so warm and inviting, he just gets better and better, the brass section here is pure musical magic. The last few minutes of the song sounded scary and very unradio friendly for a single release! but once i heard the album i realised how well it made the album flow, it gets L'via going nicely and feels comfortable, giving the album even more greatness!

"L'Via L'Viaquez" is incredible. I've never heard anything like it, the spanish vocals work really well and the latin guitar sounds and musicianship blow me away ever time. This one is very upbeat and is probably the most accessable track on the album for new listeners. After hearing this i knew that this was a strong contender for the best album i've ever heard! The solo that comes in around 3 minutes is like an orgasm, it is built up so well with the quieter section before it! There is a definite Frank Zappa influence around the 9 minute mark, this track flows immensely well and it was nice to see some more of the bands prog influences shining through. The track has a weird climax, with a voice that sounds like a slowed down vinyl record, deep and demonic. This is puzzling and maybe not a great climax for such a great track but very listenable. I liked the way they ended the track on such a weird, original and slow note.

"Miranda, That Ghost Just Isn't Holy Anymore", The first 4 minutes are made up of ghostly sound effects and amazing waling sounds from Cedric, reflecting the theme and title of this section of the album. This is broken with an incredible brass intro that gets me weak at the knees whenever i hear it. I often find myself skipping to about 4 minutes because i just cant wait to hear that trumpet sound whenever i hear this track, though i very much recommend listening to the intro as it makes it flow better and builds up to the trumpets really well. Cedrics voice uses a similar slow and emotional sound to it like on "Televators", but he sounds twice as good hear, this is one of the best vocal performances i have ever heard! The lyrics are amazing and when the verses hit the chorus section it just feels like pure heaven! This will forever remain one of my favourite tracks ever! The vocal section is short but sweet, it nearly makes me cry when it is over, just so very emotional.

"Cassandra Gemmini" is a defining epic, i expected this album to have an overture or lengthy build up but it just kicks in straight away, it follows a very frantic structure throughout that grips the listener, certainly daring and original for a half an hour long suite, this will give "Supper's Ready" and "Echoes" a run for their money! I love the weird effect that Cedric uses on his voice at the begining, the lyrics to this song are about as big as an essay but it is definetly worth a read! There is an amazing "chorus"ish section that keeps popping up and amazing, mainly at the begining of the suite but is used as the climax. "Cassandra Gemmini" gently fades out with Sarcophagi, just like the way we entered this album.

REPEAT: Frances the Mute is a landmark in progressive music, one of the best albums since it all began.

frenchie | 5/5 |

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