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