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Frances the Mute

Frances the Mute

4.7 56
by The Mars Volta

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It's evident that no one ever gave Mars Volta leading lights Cedric Bixler-Zavala and Omar Martinez-Lopez that lecture about keeping your feet firmly planted on the ground -- and as this stunning sophomore disc bears out, that's a very fortunate thing. The band don't so much build on the avant-rock foundation they laid on De


It's evident that no one ever gave Mars Volta leading lights Cedric Bixler-Zavala and Omar Martinez-Lopez that lecture about keeping your feet firmly planted on the ground -- and as this stunning sophomore disc bears out, that's a very fortunate thing. The band don't so much build on the avant-rock foundation they laid on De-Loused in the Comatorium as rappel from it to festoon a new structure with even more improbably captivating sounds. At times, that translates into relatively straightforward songcraft, as on "The Widow," where Bixler-Zavala effectively channels the spirit of Robert Plant, circa 1972. But even more often, Martinez-Lopez pushes things into more futuristic, more cerebrally rugged territory, whirring out a Can-like drone on the hypnotic "Miranda, That Ghost Just Isn't Holy Anymore" and forging a Cuban-Krautrock alliance on "L'Via L'Viaquez." As with De-Loused, there's a concept of sorts snaking through the disc, but since Bixler-Zavala's lyrics are delivered partially in Spanish and partly in Burroughsian cutup style, it's somewhat difficult to decipher. That point becomes moot, however, since it's so easy to get lost in the twists and turns of something like the 31-minute (!) closing suite, "Cassandra Gemini," which suggests a wee-hours jam session between Miles Davis and King Crimson. Next stop, outer space.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Johnny Loftus
The Mars Volta's 2003 debut was a dense, experimental run-on sentence of science fiction and musical exploration. But though it ultimately rewarded patience with stretches of unbuckled rock & roll genius, De-Loused in the Comatorium was also a maze-like and obtuse migraine dealer that made people frustrated and crazy. For 2005's Frances the Mute, Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and Cedric Bixler-Zavala worked principally with their touring band, but "joining the band for selected moments" are strings, horns, electronic programming, pals Flea and John Frusciante, and the coqui frogs of Puerto Rico. There are no song breaks, making the track listing more of an outline. But Mute's printed lyrics are a helpful guide, a map of Mars that's meant to both direct and fascinate. "She was a mink handjob in sarcophagus heels"; "Don't be afraid when all the worms come crawlin out of your head"; "they were scaling through an ice pick of abscess reckoning and when Miranda sang everyone turned away...." -- perhaps the only match for the cerebral weirdness and eventual beauty of Mars Volta's lyrics is their music itself. The roar of Rodriguez-Lopez and Bixler-Zavala's post-hardcore past is fully locked away, replaced by an equally powerful flair for expressive percussion, intricate vocal harmonies, and extended solos for electric guitar (as on the initial part of "Cygnus...Vismund Cygnus"). Sure, there are moments on Mute that reach the grandiose heights of heavy music -- "L'Via l'Viaquez"'s ear-splitting changes will blow back your hair. But the same song is sung half in Spanish, half in English, and its flashes of heaviness fall between stretches of Afro-Cuban rhythm. Other portions of Frances the Mute are murky and distant, like field recordings from the ocean floor, while still others shift drastically between brittle acoustics and a stuttering, guitar-led volatility that threatens to crack open the earth. Its constant shifts mean the record is claustrophobic and even dizzying; it demands perseverance. But it's great when a blast of a trumpet cuts through a gloomy moment, and Bixler-Zavala's vocals are a thread to reality. For example, while his lyrics for "Miranda That Ghost Just Isn't Holy Anymore" and "Widow" are mysterious poems, he sings them with a fervor that's immediately identifiable. That passion is evident throughout Frances the Mute; it's the organic fever that was buried on Comatorium.
Rolling Stone - David Fricke
The beastly spawn of Radiohead's OK Computer and Rush's 2112.

Product Details

Release Date:
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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Mars Volta   Primary Artist
Larry Harlow   Piano,Clavinet
David Campbell   Conductor
Lenny Castro   Percussion
Larry Corbett   Cello
Joel Derouin   Violin
Flea   Trumpet,Soloist
John Frusciante   Guitar,Soloist
Peter Kent   Violin
Nick Lane   Trombone
Josefina Vergara   Violin
Suzie Katayama   Cello
William Frank "Bill" Reichenbach   Bass Trombone
Wayne Bergeron   Trumpet
Fernando Moreno   Violin
Salvador Hernandez   Trumpet
Roger Manning   Piano
Isaiah Owens   Group Member
Roberto Cani   Violin
Jon Theodore   Group Member
Omar Rodriguez-Lopez   Group Member
Ernesto Molina   Violin
Cedric Bixler-Zavala   Group Member
Diego Casillas   Violin
Coqui Of Puerto Rico   Track Performer
Juan Alderete de la Peña   Group Member
Randy Jones   Tuba
Marcel Rodriguez-Lopez   Group Member
Adrian Terrazas-Gonzales   Flute,Tenor Saxophone
Mario de León   Violin

Technical Credits

David Campbell   Composer,Horn Arrangements,String Arrangements
David Schiffman   Engineer
Andrew Scheps   Engineer
Peter Curzon   Cover Art
Darrell Lance Abbott   Cover Art
Omar Rodriguez-Lopez   Composer,Producer,Engineer,Audio Production,Music Direction
Jon DeBaun   Engineer
Bill Thorgerson   Cover Art
Cedric Bixler-Zavala   Composer

Customer Reviews

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4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 56 reviews.
guitaoist3 More than 1 year ago
best band today
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Mars Volta, the greatest band in America released their sophomore album today. Does it break new ground in music? No. Does it break new ground in sound? No. Is it groundbreaking? Yes. How? The Mars Volta gives us everything that we have unconsciously been craving. They give us the hope that we gave up on desiring. They deliver an album that we have all dreamed of having. They give us the album that makes us realize that we wanted just one more album that would leave us satisfied with our beloved epic Pink Floyds and Zeppelins. Whatever was expected after The Wall, whatever was expected after Houses of the Holy, never sat right as a whole. The new album, Frances the Mute, leaves us with our jaw to the floor. Frances the Mute didn’t break through anything. Instead, it provides us with songs, moments, and episodes that finally feel the void of the desire for a better album that was never accomplished by our previously self-indulged genius bands. The first track starts with a beautiful soothing clean riff. The album ends with the same riff after the magic is done. You’ll hear the album come in with the guitar riff and you will quickly hear it end with the same. This makes the 77 minute album seem 5 minutes long. One hour of your life just disappeared.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Frances the mute is a 77 minute Spanglish tale of murder, abandonment, corruption, blackmail and revenge that wouldn’t look out of place alongside Shakespeare’s’ Titus Andronicus. The songs are loud, cryptic and angry, travelling at an athletic pace with illogical cuts in melody that defy expectation and add to the bewildering excitement. However in the middle of these phonic lacerations are two songs (The Widow and Miranda that Ghost Just Isn’t Holy Anymore) that soothe; but at the same time burn you in their mournful beauty. This LP comes frustratingly close to complete genius. It is like an artist taking a perfect portrait and adding a landscape without placing the figures inside it. This only serves to add an extra level of intrigue as the listener is suddenly pulled out of a song and then minutes later, placed into a completely new one. If you have time to decode these “Umbilical Syllables” then this will be your album of the year. Frances The mute is not a Prog record. It’s not a Punk record, nor is it Jazz or Salsa. It takes each of these, merges them and moves them away from their limitations. So sellotape your ear to this pigeon as it flies the hole.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This cd is a defiantly one you should buy. It has its weak points and its strong points. Weak points are a lot of ambience, strong points are that when there actually is music, it is awesome. FTM doesn't quite top their 1st full length album, De-loused in the Comatorium, but is overall a groundbreaking album. buy it
Guest More than 1 year ago
Frances the Mute is a different album from the mars volta's first album De-Loused in the Comatorium, so don't ask to compare the two. Frances the Mute offers new concepts from Mars Volta, a lot more latin flavor is involved in this album. On Cygnus...Vismund Cygnus and L'Via, L'Viaquez it is half spanish lyrics, and L'Via, L'Viaquez breaks into a spanish cantina throughout the song with a spanish melody playing on keyboard. There are 5 songs, some containing chapters or movements within the song, this works great because each song is an exploration into a character of the story that is Frances the Mute. It is very hard to describe each song and how it sounds, because the mars volta has made a sound with no prior definition or genre. Every band member delivers and is at the top of their game. All I can say is that you must get this album if you are bored with today's music, if you don't, you will be missing out on it, and you will be hearing about this one more than DITC.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this album will blow you away with great guitar and beautiful vocals from mr. omar himself. put toghether magnificantly with all the nooks and crannises from flea on trumpet to distortde vocals, this album has it all.
Guest More than 1 year ago
after listening to the album i was in total amazement. i just couldn't believe what i just heard on this recording. clearly stunning. if you are a mars volta fan you must go out and buy this album now or you'll be kicking yourself for it later.
Guest More than 1 year ago
the only reason i haven't given the ablum 5 stars is because i've only had it for a week and i believe that great albums need to stand the test of time. if it's as great as there last album, which has lasted, 5 stars for sure.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this is definatly a tough piece of music to review. It has a guideline, so don't be confused by the songs on the case. This is a brilliant work of music. The cunning and fast guitar is brilliant, and random.... This 77 minute long song is genius. Its a musical masterpiece, each second is gripping and compelling
Guest More than 1 year ago
Frances the Mute will not be topped anytime soon. This is my early pick for album of the year 2005. This album is for anyone who likes original, artistic music that blasts your ears. Cedric's vocals are amazing, while most of this epic album is instrumental. Prepare to be blown away.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This album is really amazing. I thought De-loused was good, but this is even better. Awesome guitar work, drums, vocals, bass, everything. Well-written songs (collections of movements) that work together as a whole.
Guest More than 1 year ago
mars volta is by far the most amazing most progressive and most entertaining thing to ever happen to music. Frances the Mute is no exception. I have the foreign copy and i cant stop playing it. Freakin Awesome
Guest More than 1 year ago
One thing to know about Frances the Mute is that there are technically only five songs. However, the album lasts about 72 minutes. Some of the songs, namely the first, fourth, and fifth, are divided up into movements that help make sense of something that otherwise might look frighteningly long, especially if you’re the kind of person who doesn’t like progressive or experimental music. There are 12 tracks on the CD I got a hold of; the first three songs are counted as one track each, but the fourth and fifth get a track for each separate movement. However, I have a feeling that, like what happened with Tool’s Undertow (69 track/10 track/13 track versions...), there will be a lot of variation on the actual CD tracking, especially as new pressings are made. "Frances the Mute" won't be as enjoyed by someone who doesn't like a bit of a challenge when first listening to music. It is not formulaic by any stretch, and some would even brand it self-indulgent in its exploration of musical boundaries. It may well be: after "The Widow" seemingly finishes, halfway into the track, three additional minutes of ambience ensue that are little more than annoying, at least for the first couple of listens. Like I said, it can be challenging at first. However, I find that music that challenges usually winds up being the most enduring and enjoyable. No track in particular sticks out above the rest on this album, each its own unique feeling and statement. One can immediately tell that they belong together. "Cygnus... Vismund Cygnus" is drenched in feral intensity and lust for experience and truth, while "L' Via L' Viaquez" takes a more tragic look at the album's unfolding plot. "The Widow" seems inescapably doomed with regret, and "Cassandra Gemini" fights to pull apart the album's psyche after "Miranda That Ghost Just Isn't Holy Anymore" just finished trying to reassemble it. Unfortunately, the song that may have been meant to explain these other five (title track "Frances the Mute") could not fit on the CD, so it will only be released on the LP and a separate CD at a later date. TMV dangles the carrot on the stick in front of us by leaving this lost track's lyrics behind the CD in the packaging. In contrast to previous albums Tremulant and De-loused in the Comatorium, Frances the Mute embraces Cedric and Omar's Spanish influences, where they previously took on the role of artistic backdrop. Not only do many of the lyrics employ liberal use of the Spanish language, but much of the music has embraced the salsa feeling that was almost latent by comparison in previous recordings. This in no way spoils or changes The Mars Volta's sound beyond recognition; in fact, it seems that they have only become more of what they originally were. It is as if this transition in style and writing was inevitable, at least for one album. Frances the Mute is quite a bit more challenging than previous Mars Volta albums, for both newcomers to and veterans of the band. While the majority of the album is quickly accessible as a consecutive piece, there is so much transition and ambience that someone unfamiliar with progressive music may feel an intense disgust. However, after only a few listens (as with every good exploratory album), most anyone should be able to make sense of the transitional pieces and how they play a role in the dynamics of Frances the Mute. No one should be mistaken: this album may be very beautiful, but it also requires much thought.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The mars volta are back with just as much insite and story tell as there last album. I enjoyed there last album so much i bought the vinyl. The artwork for the last was more then impressive and this new one is just as good. This is the most impressive album of the year so far. And i dont see any other band able to top it. I want to see them live badly. For the price of this album and the amount put into it. Its clear you get very cent worth. this album could be 30$ and it would still be worth it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This 2nd full length album by The Mars Volta, is amazing. It fully lives up to the expectations after Deloused was released.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This CD is incredible. While it isn't great as Deloused in the Comatorium, it definitely has its high points. Honestly I dislike most of Miranda That Ghost Just Isn't Holy Anymore, but the awesome sound of L'via L'viaquez more than makes up for it. Buy this CD! I got mine today.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i enjoyed this album very much. So much that i had to listen to over and over and over. The Mars Volta is an amazing band musically, and with the lyrics.Theres not enough words to say how good this record is.
Guest More than 1 year ago
please give this album a chance. Frances THe Mute spans a broad musical landscape with endless horizons. the songs won't let go of you, they'll sink into the tissues of your brain, and you'll start humming them without even realizing it. the singing is incredible. as is the guitar. as is the bass. as are the drums
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm curious if the diary the late Jeremy Ward found will be released as well. More disjointed than Ummagumma, but larger than Dark side of the Moon. More eccentric than Coda, but more listenable than Zoso. More schizophrenic than Quadrophenia, but more all-encompassing than Who's Next. This album is a rock-opera, latin jazz, stoner rock, spoken word, epic masterpiece. This won't be a short trip across town. It swallows you whole and leaves you in a furious huddle on the floor.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I could try and describe this and say that it's latin-experimental post-progressive jazz-rock, but that doesn't even begin to describe TMV's sounds. It's nothing but The Mars Volta, a whole new genre which no other band will ever fit in. Buy this album.
Guest More than 1 year ago
one of the only albums worth buying this year. the mars voltas new album is jaw dropping. the first song cygnus will simply blow you away. if youare a fan of the mars volta or even if you have just heard of the mdefinetly pick up this album
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Mars Volta is like no other band out there. Their new album Frances The Mute is amazing. Their music puts you in a trance and lets you forget everything around you. When I first listened to it, it blew me away. Trust me when you listen to this cd you'll fall in love with it right away and you wont be able to stop listening or dancing to it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Frances the Mute is definately a great album to follow up The Mars Volta's De-Loused In The Commatorium. I usually think albums get worse as artists release new ones, but Frances the Mute changed my mind. The music and vocals are mind-blowing. I recommend this to all Mars Volta fans, and to anyone who wants to find something new and exciting.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Frances the Mute debuted on the Billboard Top 200 list at #4. This is incredible. However, that doesn't even do justice to Frances. This album has me in awe with how ridiculously good it is. I can't think of anyone in this day in age who can compare to the musicianship of Cedric and Omar. From beginning to end, the album ensares your mind and keeps you listening to every single glorious note. ~AmbulanceX
Guest More than 1 year ago
this a fantastic album well done on all aspects. the album has many different sections you could say to it. one track that stands out is track three that has an amazing smooth latin groove. violins and cellos are also used along with a few other brass instruments in a number of tracks. it features flea on trumpet and john Frusciante on guitar(both hail from red hot chili peppers.) exellent album and well worth it.