Frances the Mute by The Mars Volta

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Frances the Mute by The Mars Volta
Frances the Mute by The Mars Volta

Album Released: 2005

Frances the Mute ::: Artwork

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1.Cygnus....Vismund Cygnus13:02
2.- Sarcophagi
3.- Umbilical Syllables
4.- Facilis Descenus Averni
5.- Con Safo
6.The Widow5:50
7.L'Via L'Viaquez12:21
8.Miranda That Ghost Just Isn't Holy Anymore
9.- Vade Mecum13:10
10.- Pour Another Icepick4:46
11.- Pisacis (Phra-Men-Ma)6:40
12.- Con Safo2:56
13.Cassandra Geminni
14.- Tarantism7:41
15.- Plant A Nail In The Navel Stream4:59
16.- Faminepulse3:48
17.- Multiple Spouse Wounds0:46
18.- Sarcophagi0:53


The Mars Volta's sophomore album was inspired by their sound technician Jeremy Ward, who had overdosed shortly after Deloused in the Comatorium was released, and the album is based on a journal he found while working as a repo-man.

I complained about Deloused in the Comatorium being over the top, and Frances the Mute is even more extreme than its predecessor, with just five songs (the last is irritatingly spread over eight tracks), including 32 minutes of the epic closing track "Cassandra Gemini". And while there's still plenty of messing around with effects pedals, and dead spaces in the middle of songs, this album's more engaging and less monotonous than its predecessor.

That's mostly because it's more eclectic - there's a more diverse range of instruments, with clavinets, saxophones, trumpet (played by Flea), Tom Waits-like monologues, and orchestration, courtesy of Beck's father David Campbell, all thrown into the mix.

While Latin influences were present on Deloused, "L'Via L'Viaquez" is the group's most explicitly Latin-influenced track yet, even going so far as to use Spanish lyrics. The guitar work is even more impressive than the debut, with guest John Frusciante contributing some blistering solos to "L'Via L'Viaquez", and Jon Theodore's drumming is likewise often outstanding.

As may be discerned by the fact that I've already cited it twice, "L'Via L'Viaquez" is my favourite song here. It may remind me of Robert Christgau's dismissal of Yes' Close to the Edge ('they segue effortlessly from Bach to harpsichord, to bluesy rock and roll, and don't mean to be funny') but the jumps from aggressive guitar to orchestrated Latin are often captivating.

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by Reviewer: Fyfeopedia (blogging at Fyfeopedia [Defunct])

Newly-initiated into the ranks of what most had dismissed as a dead style, The Mars Volta became the de facto post-millennial representatives for progressive rock, and so the task of preserving the essence of the prog movement fell upon this solitary band.

What that meant is that The Mars Volta were expected to adhere to the standard development course prescribed for archetypal prog/rock bands, a paradigm wherein ambitions are supposed to mount with each successive album. De-Loused in the Comatorium - a collection of prog tunes that featured some lengthy cuts but no true epics - could be said to be The Mars Volta's Fragile, and so this the follow-up would be the band's Close to the Edge.

Frances the Mute predominantly consists of massive prog/rock suites, each encompassing at least four separate sections. Nearly every major prog band had succumbed to such a level of self-indulgent excess, with varying degrees of success ... Jethro Tull may've had Thick As A Brick, but they also had A Passion Play, while for every track such as "Gates of Delirium" Yes had an album like Tales of Topographic Oceans ... so, successfully pulling off a prog epic is a difficult feat, but if The Mars Volta were to become the standard-bearers for modern prog/rock, they at least had to try their hand at what is a difficult endeavor.

The Mars Volta have proven quite adept at generating catchy prog melodies, with their specialty being irresistible vocal hooks. The band can generally be counted upon to produce memorable refrains and first-rate vocal melodies in their verses, but unfortunately the band's progressive tendencies turn what could be punchy and entertaining songs into protracted 'epics' that all too often stray from their strengths.

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by Reviewer: Evan Lublinski (blogging at Evan Lublinski's Album Reviews)