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Frances the Mute

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iTunes Review

A mind-blowing maze of complex melodies, textures, and harmonies, Frances the Mute is almost impossibly precise in its orchestration and execution. There are no songs on the album, at least in the conventional sense, just an endless movement from one idea to another, some sublime, others unbearably intense and hopelessly fragmented. Polyrhythms and countless unexpected tempo changes abound, while extended guitar, trumpet, and sax solos scream from the mix, driven by possessed drumming throughout. There are also cinematic moments where street sounds and snippets of conversation slip into the soundscape and then into the studio murk. Cedric Bixler-Zavala’s voice soars, screeches, wails, howls, and moans, and his sinister non sequitur lyrics, sung in English and Spanish, are difficult to discern much less decipher. This is no casual listen and certainly not for everyone. But for those willing to commit to absorbing 77 minutes of challenging music, there is much to reflect upon in Frances the Mute.

Customer Reviews

Musical Freedom

I was amazed with the sound of this album (I don't normally start a review this way.) Although still not as accessable as some would like it to be, I know there are some great musical minds out there that know better. Progressive, Acid, Math, whatever type of rock you'd like to define 'Frances' as... The album is fun, fast-paced (just like Deloused), and happily overwhelming. I'm glad that there are bands that still make music like this. Frances the Mute is also quite a bit more mature from their last LP "Deloused in the Comotorium." Because of the concept. This album is clearly more 'drawn together' than Deloused. Omar and everyone else in the outfit has significantly improved, and it shows. I can't really describe the disc in any other way. BUT... As with all bands and albums, Frances does indeed have it's shortcomings. The first three (this album is not the five 'songs' iTunes suggests it is) songs are unique and ingenius, but the remainder of the album strays a bit too far from the party... That is, in fact, a good analogy. It's like a few of your noisiest guests have entered your neighbor's yard and things seem to have calmed down a bit... And in your bliss, your neighbors suddenly come barging in, ears of your sheep-like guests in hand, and begin to hound you on why you let your party get out of control. Things heat up... But wait... I didn't think things were getting out of hand... Were they? "Miranda," renowned by fans as having the great "Flea" (of the Chili Peppers) make apperances on horns early on, is a calm song (salsa-sounding) for the first several minutes... Several, several minutes. (You get the hint.) Cassandra Gemini is the opposite (both tracks taking it a bit overboard on the extremes,) with so many directions, you don't know what's happening. The neighbors are ticked, and you're confused... Nobody likes confusion. Should you buy this album? If you're into finding new things that are still fun to listen to (and this album is by all means listenable,) then yes. These guys have grown into quite the fine set of musicians who write effective, dynamic arrangements. -Four and a half stars.


Frances the Mute is by far, no doubt in every way possible, the best album of all time. Never has music ever exceeded the qualities that this album carries. I was so impressed with de-loused that I thought it would be impossible to top that, but the Mars Volta proved me wrong. The fullness and complicity of the music make Frances the Mute completely flawless.

A journey for the ears!

Trying to categorize the Mars Volta would tragically and probably be an insult to the band since the music isn't really an outlet of history repeating itself, but a new face of music. In a way they have created epic creations through their instruments and vocals that will probably never be imitated with the same out-of worldy and professional sound that they capture. It's a journey through landscape and soul! And it freakin rocks too!!!


Formed: 2001 in El Paso, TX

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Picking up the pieces from At the Drive-In, Cedric Bixler-Zavala and Omar Rodriguez-Lopez formed the Mars Volta and wasted little time branching out into elements of hardcore, psychedelic rock, and free jazz that expanded on the boundaries of their previous work. Although their previous band's demise ultimately arrived before they were able to truly capitalize on their mounting commercial triumphs, the Mars Volta immediately impressed with their willingness to eschew conventional logic and push themselves...
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