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

FRANCES THE MUTE

The Mars Volta

 

Heavy Prog

4.06 | 967 ratings

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heyitsthatguy
4 stars Great sophomore effort that originall got me into their sound!

This album proved to be quite a different offering than Deloused was, but it's definitely the same band, and their sound is retained, albeit modified. While not as good as its predecessor, it still proves to be an interesting and engrossing experience from start to finish. At least, if you have the patience to sit through this 78 minute monster.

1. Cygnus....Vismund Cygnus- 10/10- One of my favorite TMV tracks! Starting off with a haunting acoustic guitar progression, Cedric's vocals come in, and they slowly fade into being distorted, and before you can even guess what's going on, the band explodes into full throttle, with the almost tribal sounding semi-chanting of "ninoooo preparate" and Omar and John Theodore tearing their instruments up for a funky yet frantic sound. The song fades into a more calmer section, with some trippy and experimental soloing on guitar. The whole ending section gives me chills, with Cedric's high pitched (damn, that's the highest I've heard anyone go) chilling wordless wails over the 5/4 (I beleive) outro section. Sadly, we also get a taste of this album's biggest flaw in the last 2 minutes, with random recordings and sound effects, which would add more to the concept if the listener knew exactly what the hell Cedric meant by "my nails peel back/When the taxidermist ruined/Goose stepped the freckling impatience", and finally the track fades into......

2. The Widow- 6/10- The most glaringly obvious candidate for the single of the album, it is a typical, almost Zeppelin sounding style ballad. While it doesn't borrow too much from TMV's characteristic sound, it does manage to maintain being a decent ballad style song, until the three minute mark, then....more noise, this time, some really offkey organ and some other noises

3.L'Via L'Viaquez- 8/10- Starting off with a reversed drum loop, it explodes into a latin feel, with Frusciante churning out a good, funky solo. And what's this? The lyrics are in Spanish? As if they made little enough sense in English! Anyways, onto the song. While not as frantic as the first track, yet not exactly as slow or looming as The Widow, the song itself does transition between midtempo sections and slower, almost latin/loungemusic style sections with lyrics in English, then transitioning back into the style of the first section with more backwardsness and atonal guitar. Finally, the song fades out into the loungey section until the band completely cuts out, leaving a heavily distorted (not like guitar distortion, more like phaser and 400 other effects) to fend for himself as he sings a capella to close out the song. Oh, and more noise

4. Miranda, That Ghost Just Isn't Holy Anymore- 5/10- Why such a vicious rating? While the song itself is great, it only takes up a THIRD of the track, the other 2 thirds compiled of noise. Lots and lots of noise. Cedric making creepy ghosty sounding noises, and the the noise is occasionally pitch bended down a bit, then back up, to sound creepier, I guess. Anyways, after FIVE MINUTES of this and bird noises, the song starts in, with "Flea" (of RHCP fame) on trumpet, with a somewhat epic feel to it, and the actual song begins. Finally. The song itself is not bad by any means, in fact, probably better at achieving the ominous feeling that The Widow tried so hard to do within a much smaller timeframe. Finally, the song fades out, into a section with some weird trumpet, and a familair 5/4 section slowly fades in (the one at the end of Cygnus....Vismund Cygnus), and it lulls you with familiarity until.....

5. Cassandra Gemini- 10/10- BOOM! It explodes in a similar fashion to that of Cygnus....Vismund Cygnus, only much more frantic, and with Cedric sounding slightly drunk, or crazy, as inferred by the lyric "I think I've become one of the others". This track has truly an epic feel in it from start to finish (NOTE: TRACKS 5 THROUGH 12 ARE ALL ONE SONG, CASSANDRA GEMINI) It then goes into a slightly less crazy part, with Cedric reading an excerpt from (and don't hold me accountable for this I might be wrong) "Naked Lunch", which seems to be just as weird as anything else they've said so far. Then, the chorus: "No there's no liiiiight", which sends you tumbling into section after section of this insane opus. Note, it is not for the impatient wanting a quick song to listen to. Clocking in at 32 minutes, this song is quite a bit to tackle, and at times even trying (the instrumental section/jam at about 22 minutes til 27 minutes comes to mind) but it all builds up until the final amazing chorus, and ending on the "Sarcophagus" part that began the first track on the album

Overall:

Lyrics: What. The. HELL!!? The lyrics may seem at first hard to follow, but if you get the general gist of them, the story is yours to make for yourself. Cedric's singing is, well, exactly like he always sings, although a bit clearer and less aggrivating as he was with At the Drive-In.

Music: Many a catchy riff here, and many more an epic or emotional section, that do however heavily suffer from an overindulgence of sound effect usage/ambient sections.

To summarize, this album is a great addition to any prog collection, and I cannot wait for their future releases, including Amputechture, as they move into more progressive territory.

heyitsthatguy | 4/5 |

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