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The Mars Volta - Frances The Mute

The Mars Volta - Frances The MuteWhenever a new band appears, many of us take them apart musically and work out who their influences are. With The Mars Volta, well, they are a different kettle of fish. Their 2003 release De-loused In The Comatorium opened many people's eyes as they were classed as the new breed of progressive rock, and with their many styles and time changes makes them simply unique.

Their latest album Frances The Mute is very experimental, but on the other hand, I have a feeling that it is going to go down in history as a classic. I would give it full marks for creativity and production, but it also has the nerve to find it's way into many people's CD collection. Clocking in at a generous seventy-seven minutes, this five-track album is a delightful journey and it has the impact to keep one's full attention at all times. Only the public can decide it's fate sales-wise, but with the video of the second track The Widow being shown on many music shows, it should be a nice return of the effort put into the album.

The five tracks are complex and full of energy as you would expect from this band, and the opening acoustic guitar played by Cedric Bixler Zavala, sets the scene. But just before the one minute mark, the whole thing explodes into a Gentle Giant/late Zeppelin sort of sound played, well, very up-tempo indeed. Singer Omar A Rodriguez-Lopez has a Geddy Lee/Robert Plant type voice, and closing this track, the Mellotron comes into the fore and following on, the Dark Side Of The Moon experimental type sounds appear with the sound effects with the door slam, people's voices and motor vehicles.

The Widow is next, and is very mellow in comparison to the rest of the album. It could become a single, and with the slide guitar and organ sounds, remind one of the classic Floyd sound. In many ways, the Floyd feel is apparent, but along with the Radiohead type of mood make this a nice moment.

L' Via L' Viaquez is next and is a plodder type mood. Imagine Trampled Under Foot along with Kashmir, and with the Mellotron soaring away in the background, you are soon in a Mexican Latin sort of mood.

Miranda That Ghost Just Isn't Holy Anymore is a clever experimental type track. Shades of Floyd are around again in the Echoes vein, and the Mellotron makes this a pleasant listen. Towards the end it has an early solo Steve Hackett album feel too, and this fades to the welcoming blast of the showcase final track.

Thirty-two minutes of Cassandra Gemini throws everything before this track out of the window. There is so much production on this epic, but the horns stand out on this along with the Mellotron. The guitar sound reminds you of the Steve Howe Relayer period, and is not far from the Zeppelin influence once more. The Plant type vocals are in a sea of instruments and styles as the track twists, turns, rises and falls, but to round it off has a quiet acoustic ending taking you back to the first track.

This is a lot different to the last album, but very forward and as I mentioned before, will be a classic in years to come. A brilliant journey and a perfect example of new music around today.

Danny Mayo

The Mars Volta

 

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