The Mars Volta - Frances The Mute
The Mars Volta are back with ‘Frances The Mute’, the follow-up to their well received debut ‘De-Loused In The Comatorium’.
Where to start with this album? The mind boggles when the time indicator display on the CD player reads that this album lasts for 76 minutes and 55 seconds.
Compared to ‘De-loused In The Comatorium, ‘Francis The Mute’ sounds much grander and more epic in scale. If their debut album was like hearing a small window into the complete oblivion that The Mars Volta created at the time, then this album has a more panoramic, wide screen sense to it, revealing in the process, a much larger world of sounds for the listener. On this album, they are the rulers and we listen as their guests, invited into their world.
Shifting music styles, killer guitar riffs, a lot of the sounds on ‘Francis The Mute’ are quite incredible, being manipulated with expert ease and effortless technique. It seems on various parts that they’ve perfected the frenzied and almost insane manic effect that the songs on ‘De-loused In The Comatorium’ had, except they’re impossibly amplified further on this album. Punk blasts, electronic pulses, ambient background noise, latin grooves, intense screaming, its all here. The Mars Volta have created something truly ambitious and unique, which will take many listens to unravel every intricacy and nuance of each song. Not everything seems to work though as at certain times the album drags which is understandable given the record’s length.
‘Francis The Mute’ is a striking album that could well be remembered as a classic in years to come. Just now, it seems to this reviewer, that it’s a self-indulgent but very well made collection of music pieces collated together, regardless of whether they complement each other. Concept album or otherwise, this is essentially prog rock with elements of funk, jazz, punk, latin and metal. It makes for a brilliant concoction, distilled in heavy doses to the listener. Not many bands release albums of this length anymore, for good reason. If a band does, then they have to make sure that they can carry it off and get away with it. The Mars Volta pull it off through their sheer confidence, tenacity, and belief in their style of music. It worked with their debut, which sold in excess of half a million copies and is constantly rising. ‘Frances The Mute’ will salivate their legions of fans frothing at the mouth for new material.
‘Frances The Mute’ as an entity, is powerful and emotive with so many layers to it. Who knows what The Mars Volta are trying to accomplish with this album and where they go from here, but in the meantime, until we know the answer, lets just get back to listening to the record and finding out.