Frances the Mute

With song titles like “L’Via L’Viaquez” and “Cygnus … Vismund Cygnus,” The Mars Volta has put out their second full-length album, “Frances the Mute.” Both albums have been preceded by a tragedy that influenced their works.

“Frances the Mute” details the life of a person housed within a diary which was kept by one of the band’s closest friends and backstage members. The friend, while doing work as a repo man, found the diary and identified with the person in it, who was detailing his struggles to find his relatives. After the friend shared this diary with Mars Volta, he passed away. His death and close relation with the person in the diary sparked “Frances the Mute,” a musical masterpiece.

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Following the precedent set by “De-Loused in the Comatorium,” they stuck with their strange, complex background music and focused vocals. The type of music here is indescribable and cannot be placed just in one genre.

“Frances the Mute” has such smooth transitions that it will feel like one 75-minute song instead of five songs adding up to 75 minutes. “Cygnus … Vismund Cygnus” sets the theme: long stretches of background noises, powerful vocals, rapid pace changes and great variety. This song transitions to “The Widow” which is a powerful ballad that is also their single.

The last song is the 32-minute “Cassandra Geminni.” This is a heavily digital, yet magnificently composed piece that rounds off with a piece of the very first song, bringing it full circle.

All of these come together in one of the best albums of the year, hands down. The Mars Volta truly is one of the best.

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