Sunday, October 09, 2005

The Mars Volta "Frances The Mute"

The Mars Volta "Frances The Mute"
released 3/1/05

ok, so, if you are expecting to hear At The Drive-in because Cedric and Omar of ATDI are the frontmen of this band, then stop reading. There is soo much to say about this album, I don't even know if I can think of it all right now to put in this review. It's 77 minutes long, there's 5 "songs" put onto 11 tracks, 12 if you want to include the last song which is actually the first 50 seconds of the first track. But to be honest, this album could be considered one long 77 minute song because they flow so perfectly together that if the little track indicator number thingy on your cd player wasn't there you probably wouldn't notice the track changes

So as soon as you pick up this album you know you are in store for something you never heard before. The album cover is man driving a car with a red velvet bag over his head.. it has no band name or album name on the cover, if you didnt know what the album looked like you wouldnt know it was the Mars Volta's cd (as i experienced) You turn it over and it reads like a classical album's track listing, with each song being so long that its broken into segments. I was scared at first.

After my first listen I didn't dig it too much, but now I'm hooked. I knew this would be an album you would have to sit down and listen to fully and not just hear snippets in the car like I did at first. Lots of guest appearences on this album, a few very talented musicians who play Latin music, and Flea appears on this album too, but on trumpet this time. So, if you didnt know Omar and Cedric (Omar's brother is also in the Mars Volta lineup this time around) are Puerto Rican, and from El Paso TX, and their latin roots really show on this album; bringing in experienced Latin musicians, putting salsa grooves to many of the songs, and singing half the album's lyrics in spanish.

The vocals are great, Cedric's voice fits perfectly to the weird/trippiness of this album. Omar is basically one of the most talented guitarists and all around musicians, or person in fact, that I've seen in a while. He wrote and directed all the music of this album, and produced it as well. And his guitar playing and style are just amazing. Lots of production-- spacey synths and samples, and vocal modification (i don't know the technical term for it)

Now to the actual songs. Track 1 is 13 minutes long and is one hell of a song. It starts very soft, but once you hit 45 seconds into the song be prepared to be like "what the fuck?" It goes into some of the most sparatic music I've heard. Very funky. The album mellows out at track 2, but it's intensity comes back at track 3 which is my favorite of the album. It's sung mostly in spanish, but the guitar riffs and vocals are so fuckin catchy that I don't care if I can't understand what he's saying.... and the slow salsa breakdowns are incredible-- it makes me want to pick up a MENUDO cd (jk, nothing could make me want to do that) but it does really make me interested in hearing some real latin music. Track 4 "Miranda that ghost just isn't holy anymore" with it's 4 sections features Flea's trumpet playing skills and clocks in at a little over 13 minutes. The culmination of the album begins at track 5 and goes till track 12 and lasts for over 30 minutes total, so needless to say dont start track 5 unless you are willing to stay with it until the end, and when you do you will be very pleased that you did. Lots of time changes, musical style changes, and "freestyling" even though it was all composed anyway. It's the type of 'roller coaster ride' song that makes you want to get to the end so that you can start it over again.

This album was also inspired by a diary found by late bandmate Jeremy Ward. I just read that and figured I'd put that in here. So I'm sure I missed so much about this album because it's way too complex to analyze after only owning it for a day.

If I had to pick favorite tracks I'd say 3, 5, 7, 11... but just listen to the whole thing through

If you liked At The Drive-in and are ready to accept their break up and are ready to move on then you will like this album. Also, if you are a fan of Pink Floyd or Led Zeppelin you will appreciate the music. As far as comparing it to an arist.... I can't do it


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