Genre: Alternative
Label: Clouds Hill
Size: 12"
Additional Artists: John Frusciante
Format: 33RPM,


The Mars Volta Frances the Mute 3LP

The Mars Volta

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Exclusive Clouds Hill Edition 3LP!
Remastered for Black Vinyl Using the Original Mixes!

Triumph breeds confidence, and with confidence comes an expansion of ambition, a focus of ability, an emboldening of audacity. De-Loused in the Comatorium had risked everything Omar and Cedric possessed on the wildest of gambits, the most impossible of dreams: making sense of the riot of influences ricocheting about Omar's head, and memorializing their departed friend Julio Venegas through Cedric's magical realist roman-a-clef. It shouldn't have worked. But it did, and with that fiendish tightrope act successfully accomplished, the duo stretched the wire even further and higher, over a figurative fiery pit peopled with lions, crocodiles, piranha and other sharp-toothed beasts not yet known to man. Because how do you make great art without taking great risks?

Frances the Mute was no De-Loused Part Two. For one thing, the band's configuration had changed, in the most painful way. Shortly before the release of De-Loused, sound manipulator and founder member Jeremy Michael Ward passed away, a wound Omar says the group never recovered from.

But even though his inspired fucking- with-the-sonic-parameters is absent from Frances the Mute, his spirit and influence can still be determined, the album's concept derived from a diary Ward had encountered in his day-job in repossession. "Jeremy picked up lots of interesting stuff when he was a repo man," remembers Cedric. "Weird things, including this diary. He let us read it a bunch of times. It was by a guy who'd been adopted and was searching to find his real parents. It was very surreal, it didn't make much sense - the guy might've been schizophrenic - but it was very inspiring. It felt like how certain music helps you escape your boring every-day life. The names and scenes in the diary directly inspired these songs."

Some of the tracks pre-dated De-Loused, having their origins in early demos Omar recorded at the duo's Long Beach home Anikulapo, songs such as "The Widow" and "Miranda That Ghost Just Isn't Holy Anymore." Cedric had heard these jams in their embryonic state and began working in his mind on what he could bring to them. "I was attracted to 'The Widow' like you would be to a lover, right?" Cedric remembers. "I sang over it with Omar while we were touring De-Loused in Australia on the Big Day Out, like, 'Okay, I've got something for this.'"

A potent ballad, laden with emotional crescendos and evoking the epic drama of Ennio Morricone - an effect aided by an elegiac trumpet part performed by Flea - "The Widow" would become The Mars Volta's first song to chart on the Billboard Top 100, capturing the album's potent sorrow and widescreen sprawl in miniature. Indeed, the lush sound of the album, the depth of detail and breadth of instrumentation, belies its grungy roots. Having tasted the luxury of Rick Rubin's mansion, Omar veered in the opposite direction when recording Frances, cutting the album in what he describes as "a shithole... Basically a warehouse with one little air conditioner on its last legs, awful wiring and a console you couldn't rely on. We were there night and day - I would literally lock engineer Jon DeBaun in there. He slept on a mattress in the vocal booth."

A considerably more complex and ambitious album than its predecessor - four of its five tracks lasted over ten minutes in length, with its closing epic, "Cassandra Gemini," spanning over half an hour - Frances the Mute wasn't recorded "live" by an ensemble, but with the individual musicians coming into the "shithole" and recording the parts Omar had scripted for them separately. "They had to have absolute trust in me," Omar remembers, "Like actors trust their director."


  • 3LP
  • Remastered for Black Vinyl Using the Original Mixes
  • Triple Gatefold
  • Made in Germany


Side A:

  1. Cygnus....Vismund Cygnus: a. Sarcophagi / b. Umbilical Syllables / c. Facilis Descenus Averni / d. Con Safo
  2. The Widow

Side B:

  1. L' Via L' Viaquez

Side C:

  1. Miranda That Ghost Just Isn't Holy Anymore: a. Vade Mecum / b. Pour Another Icepick / c. Pisacis (Phra-Men-Ma) / d. Con Safo

Sides D & E:

  1. Cassandra Gemini: a. Tarantism / b. Plant a Nail in the Navel Stream / c. Faminepulse / d. Multiple Spouse Wounds / e. Sarcophagi

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