The Mars Volta - Frances The Mute

by Rich Morris Rating: Release Date:

Given that Mars Volta's Omar Rodriquez-Lopez and Cedric Bixler Zavala are ideologues; Afro-haired chin scratchers who believe that Seventies progressive-rock music was alright really but too 'white' and quite possibly a little bit too sheepish for its own good, Frances The Mute--the band's second album--is possibly the absolute wired-to-the-mains apex of indulgent immodesty. Of course, this diamond-encrusted symphonic psych extravaganza of time-signature changes, wild post-Miles Davis electric jazz, writhing punk passion and re-heated Rush has a concept ( albeit one best approached with a knowledge of social science, Latin and a medical dictionary) and a sleeve designed by Pink Floyd associate Storm Thorgerson. However, while there are obvious ancestral salutes to Relayer-era Yes and all tinctures of Pink Floyd, Frances The Mute is restlessly forward-thinking, a thrilling continuation of Mars Volta's multi-cultural prog modernism where a track like "L'Via L'Viaquez" (with guest appearances from the Chili Pepper's Flea and John Frusciante) comes across like something resembling nothing less than a Cuban King Crimson. --Kevin Maidment

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