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


The Mars Volta


Heavy Prog

4.07 | 1007 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars Mute-ilated

There's no denying that there are prog references throughout this The Mars Volta (TMV)'s second album. Credit is due to The Mars Volta for venturing beyond the boundaries of most of today's rock based bands, and exploring new avenues. Where I have to admit to significant reservations however is when it comes to the question, is "Frances the Mute" actually any good?

In some ways, this album flatters to deceive. Yes the tracks are long and in multiple parts, yes there are melodic parts, fusion orientated parts and experimental parts, and yes there are distinct Pink Floyd "Atom heart mother" references. Put them all together though, and the sum of the parts is actually more than the whole.

Why this should be is down to several reasons. Firstly, the singing is generally a significant weakness; much of it is to my ears out of tune. Secondly, when the constituent parts are looked at more closely, many of them are actually just rock tracks which have been bound together, or extended through repetition.

The opening 13 minute, four part "Cygnus... Vismund cygnus" is a perfect case in point. Here we dive straight into a mishmash of improvisation and basic indie rock. Perhaps it is my natural aversion for improvisation which is without form together with a perception that indie rock tends to lack originality which taints my view of this album. There is no question that TMV have gone to significant lengths to create a work which challenges the listener, and which seeks to explore the blending of styles which may appear at odds with each other. To that extent, this is a milestone album. Where, in my opinion, it falls flat though, is that it simply does not entertain me.

Easy Livin | 2/5 |


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