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

FRANCES THE MUTE

The Mars Volta

 

Heavy Prog

4.05 | 729 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Sinusoid
Prog Reviewer
3 stars I have come to know The Mars Volta for not being that conservative with the lengths of their albums, often filling them to max capacity. FRANCES THE MUTE began that trend (DE- LOUSED was only an hour), but has only five songs, one of them being this 32-minute thing. In essence, the album becomes water-logged in frantic jams. Only ''The Widow'' sneaks in under the ten-minute mark, and while it's not bad, the two fantastic pieces overshadow the psych-pop ''The Widow'' tries to accomplish.

I find it hard to defend the Santana-esque jam of ''L'Via L'Viaquez'' not because of content, but length. No doubt the jam is fiery in places, but it doesn't really say anything in thirteen minutes. Even worse is ''Miranda''; that ''thing'' takes four minutes to even start, and the theme is very weak once it gets going. Only Flea's trumpet performance gets kudos from me. At least the great songs keep the album afloat.

''Cygnus...Vismund Cygnus'' opens the album with a bang like only the Mars Volta can, and the intensity bobs and weaves throughout, but always keeping you on the edge of your seat. Particularly mesmerising is the ''Facilis Descenus Averni'' section that starts slow, but builds to a climax when Cedric comes back in. Drummer Theodore is most impressive here, but we aren't even at the best track yet.

''Cassandra Gemini'' might just be the best epic in recent years. Only Cedric's odd robot vocals in the beginning attempt to screw everything up, but once everything settles into a comfy jam, it's lights out from here. The guitars, bass, and drums are frantically intense, but in a locked groove that is so enjoyable. Like the first track, it alters dynamics well enough to keep interest. Best yet, the band really knows how to lay down a jam like the old masters of rock could, and they let Owens and Alderte cut loose instrumentally. They also can put a spacey atmosphere in the right place, keeping the suspense going until the intense finale, ending the way it began.

The opening and closing numbers are easily essential listening for those into progressive rock and want a modern representation of the genre. I wouldn't hesitate to call FRANCES THE MUTE a masterpiece if it was just ''Cygnus'' and ''Cassandra'', but the load of fluff jams weaken the overall appeal. Not recommended if you don't care for your music to be loud or jammy.

Sinusoid | 3/5 |

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