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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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Andy Webb
Special Collaborator
Retired Admin
3 stars This noise just isn't holy anymore

The Mars Volta wowed everyone with their beyond-amazing debut De-Loused in the Comatorium, with their incredibly unique style and breath taking stamina and agility while playing. Two years later, the Mexican-American sensation returned with their next studio album, the adventurous Francis the Mute. Originally composed of just five lengthier tracks, they were forced to split up their 32 minute long giant Cassandra Gemini because the label threatened to pay them an EP's pay for so small a number of songs. Despite this, the band was still able to split the track into eight subsections, making 12 tracks. The one thing that really sticks out is the true length of the album: five tracks, 77 minutes. But, one may ask, how could it be this long? Yes, in part because the album is composed of five lengthy songs, but mainly because of the ambient noise added to each and every track (also known as "filler"). Filler was seen on the band's debut, but was tasteful, coming in only to accent a theme or feeling about the album. Of course, musically, the album is just a genius as the band's debut. Full of intense energy, inventiveness, and a whole slew of other creative aspects this is a very good album, but I cannot stress how much that noise, pointless and jarring at times, really alienates the good parts of this album.

First, I'll talk compositionally how great this album is. Compositionally, this album is great (ha ha). Consisting of the same pep found on the band's debut album, the entire band, led by the guitar mastermind Omar Rodrigues-Lopez, jumps leaps and bounds through musical wonderland, reaching incredible Avant tendencies in a purely Mars Volta style, with raging guitar solos and rhythmic insecurity accenting beautifully orchestrated movements, with perfectly preformed crescendos and decrescendos making it obvious how wonderfully skilled Rodrigues-Lopez truly is at composing. Through the insanity of Cygnus?Vismund Cygnus (which I'm convinced is a Rush reference) to the more mellow and almost popularly acceptable The Widow to the great Latin-fusion piece L'Via l'Vaquez to the incredible (and incredibly long) Cassandra Gemini, this album truly has a number of compositional masterpieces. However, they happened to be near ruined by a certain additive the band seemed to insist on?

Filler. It tends to leave a bad taste in a music lover's mouth. It signifies the band was either too lazy to make an adequate ending or needed to lengthen the album. This band didn't need to do either. Of course, filler was seen on the debut, but in tasteful amounts to compliment the music. On this album, numerous minutes have been pointlessly added to the end of each track (excluding the last track), making for an extremely annoying and unnecessary addition to the otherwise incredible album. I barely fast forward during tracks on an album, but on this album, I skip every second of the wretched filler added to this album. Truly I cannot see any reason to add 3 minutes of noise to the end of virtually every track. It seriously ruins the album for me.

Overall, however, this is a good album. I cannot despite the filler in the album overlook the genius put into all five tracks on this album. The whole atmosphere is that typical adventurous feeling that The Mars Volta emits from their music; scratchy but well produced, raw but very clean, and an overall extremely well executed performance by the band. In the whole scheme of things, however, I still can't ignore (and I know by now you're sick of me talking about it) that horrible filler added. Although I sound like a broken record, that really was unnecessary. Although this is one of the more pretentious things the band has released, it still is a good album. 3+ stars.

Andy Webb | 3/5 |


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