Category: The Mars Volta

The Mars Volta – Frances the Mute

ARTIST: The Mars Volta                   220px-Frances_the_Mute

TITLE: Frances the Mute



SINGLES: The Widow (#95 US, #7 Alternative, #25 Mainstream), L’Via L’Viaquez (#53 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: If you bought it only…

LINEUP: Omar Rodriguez Lopez, Cedric Bixler-Zavala, Jonb Theodore, Ikey Owens, Jaun Aldrete de la Pena, Marcel Rodriguez-Lopez. Also Lenny Castro, Flea, John Frusciante, Larry Harlow and others.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Impressive, yet ultimately overwhelming, concept album.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The second record by the Mars Volta is a concept supposedly finding one’s birth parents, but it’s not as straight forward as you think. The story gets a bit lost as you listen to the staggeringly complex tracks.

Only one of the five tracks is under 10 minutes (“The Widow” at 5:50) and “Cassandra Gemini” is 32 ½ minutes long! Now, long songs don’t necessarily mean something is boring, pretentious, or indulgent, yet these tracks seem to verge upon being too much for anyone to take all at once, even with the great sounds and riffs. frances mute single

There’s also sound effect and found sounds through the record that disturb the flow (at least to may ears) and while they may be necessary for the ‘story’ I could do without.

I love the sound and idea of the story, it’s just way way too indulgent.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The title track was left off the album for time, so it was released as a B-side and streams separately.


 GRADE C+: Maybe I need to spend more time with it, but it’s such a slog that the great parts are obfuscated by the breadth of the tracks.


The Mars Volta – Deloused in the Comatorium

ARTIST: The Mars Volta                  220px-De-Loused_in_the_Comatorium

TITLE:  De-Loused in the Comatorium



SINGLES:  Inertiatic ESP (#42 UK), Televators (#41 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Not on the radio, no.

LINEUP: Cedric Bixler-Zavala, Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, Jon Theorod, Isaiah Owens, Flea, Jeremy Michael Ward

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Progressive, experimental rock band cobbled together from the ashes of At The Drive In releases a powerful, trippy debut.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: One complaint about progressive rock concept albums is that the story is hard to follow, especially for casual listeners. Also, the songs don’t tend to work well together as solo set pieces for the most part. 220px-Deloused_alternate

While the storyline is complicated and complex, and if you want to follow it attention is required. However the music, while progressive and complex, is engineered that you can enjoy it in bits and pieces easily. The riffs and time signatures are dizzying at times.

Bixler-Zavala and Ward created the story, and Rodriguez-Lopez crafted the music. They wanted to take music into the future, and while the band complained that Rick Rubin watered it down, it still sounded like nothing from 2003.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: They released a three-song EP in 2002

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, UK, Japan and Australia got an extra track and Australia also had some live cuts and sessions.

GRADE: A-: Complex and staggeringly original with a complicated storyline, but palatable to casual fans.