The Mars Volta 's debut was a dense, experimental run-on sentence of science fiction and musical exploration. For 's Frances the MuteOmar Rodriguez-Lopez and Cedric Bixler-Zavala worked principally with their touring band, but "joining the band for selected moments" are strings, horns, electronic programming, pals Flea and John Fruscianteand the coqui frogs of Puerto Rico. There are no song breaks, making the track listing more of an outline. But Mute 's printed lyrics are a helpful guide, a map of Mars that's meant to both direct and fascinate.
The roar of Rodriguez-Lopez and Bixler-Zavala's post-hardcore past is fully locked away, replaced by an equally powerful flair for expressive percussion, intricate vocal harmonies, and extended solos for electric guitar as on the initial part of "Cygnus Vismund Cygnus". Sure, there are moments on Mute that reach the grandiose heights of heavy music -- "L'Via l'Viaquez"'s ear-splitting changes will blow back your hair.
But the same song is sung half in Spanish, half in English, and its flashes of heaviness fall between stretches of Afro-Cuban rhythm. Other portions of Frances the Mute are murky and distant, like field recordings from the ocean floor, while still others shift drastically between brittle acoustics and a stuttering, guitar-led volatility that threatens to crack open the earth. Its constant shifts mean the record is claustrophobic and even dizzying; Mr.
Pickwicks Christmas - Charles Laughton - Mr. Pickwicks Christmas (Shellac, Album) demands perseverance. But it's great when a blast of a trumpet cuts through a gloomy moment, and Bixler-Zavala's vocals are a thread to reality. For example, while his lyrics for "Miranda That Ghost Just Isn't Holy Anymore" and "Widow" are mysterious poems, he sings them with a fervor that's immediately identifiable.
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The Mars Volta. The Widow. L' Via l'Viaquez. Cassandra Geminni: Tarantism. Cassandra Geminni: Faminepulse. Cassandra Geminni: Multiple Spouse Wounds. Cassandra Geminni: Sarcophagi. Spotify Amazon.
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