Frances The Mute~!


Hey, so it’s been a while since that last post. And I never even got it finished. Ah well…

To add to what little content is here, I shall post some musings I penned upon hearing the latest Mars Volta album for the first time. It was last Tuesday, and it goes… a little something… like this:

“Okay, so the new album by The Mars Volta arrived today. I had time to listen to it once, and was impressed. Anyway, this is what I thought…

Initially, I was taken aback by the fact it seemed to be SuperTMV; their usual stuff, but ramped up to the next level. Conversely, it seemed also to be something of a self-parody. On the plus side, it seemed like a gauntlet had well and truly been thrown down to Tool, in terms of uber-complex proggyness.

The strange thing is, it was all very complex and exciting, but I seemed to zone out a tad. This certainly was not helped by the random noisage that populated their debut being stretched out to fill minutes and minutes.

But I liked it, and had the feeling that this was certainly an album that would grow on me.

Second song came and went. Good though this album is, it didn’t really stick in my mind; but I’ll elaborate on that later in this post. I remember the third song being good. Finally brought the uber-emotional enthusiasm I was hankering for, and that I loved so much about Deloused In The Comatorium. Well, that’s when the song finally kicked in after 5 minutes or so…

I also liked the fourth song. Nice, latin, feel to it. At points it sounded like a very good version of that bloody Santana song with Matchbox20 fool singing it. But en Espanol, and a lot more convoluted. Reminded me – as the debut did – of Shakira, too. I love the singing on these albums. But while it was technically all well and good, it lacked the overemoting that I demand from my very favourite music.

Really liked the fifth song (sorry, but I wouldn’t know where to start naming these bastard songs. It’s all too confusing for me. I know, I should probably hit up a website and find out. I will later). I can’t remember why, but I liked it.

At this juncture, I should probably explain my instinctual interpretations of music heard for the first time (and ergo this post). I remember very little the first time around. Or, for that matter, the second or the third. I remember facts, just not actual details, if you catch my drift. It’s like when I see a really good band. I’ll go all out in enjoying them, I’ll remember who played, some of the songs and the date etc, but not what the songs sounded like. Or any real visual cues, either.

The instinctual is all. What I felt and thought on an occasion, even though the topic of what I was thinking and feeling has been all but forgotten.

Anyway. I really dug this. The singing was quality. And, as I closed my eyes for a better listening experience, I was taken back to 2000. It was a fine year, especially the summer. But I was taken back, and my feelings were a mix of the usual hurting pangs that accompany nostalgia, and also a warm glow that this not only reminded me of good times, but also that it did provide a good feeling within me.

I think I was really in the digging zone by this point. I have a feeling this album was designed for psychedelics, and as a holiday is coming up, I may partake in the legal purchase thereof. Especially as mid-March is really nice anyway.

It was by this point that any real awareness of track number fell by the wayside. It is one of the symptoms of my condition to feel a need to know which song I am listening to. When it ends. How long it was. How it segues. However, when I opened my eyes, it was track 6. Then 7. And on.

And I liked it. It certainly explained how the opening songs could have been an average of 12 minutes apiece (the mode, not the mean – I think track 2 was about 5 mins). I knew, as it was 12 tracks and 76 mins, that they couldn’t keep this up. I recall thinking the album had been on a long time, and I looked at the CD player. It was track 3. I remember thinking it had been on a long time again, and it was track 4. I was puzzled.

It seems as though the tracks 6-11 were all one massive conclusion for track 5. Or maybe I slipped into slumber and missed something. But it seemed like it was all one big song. And as this was all one big voyage of discovery (I didn’t even check out ‘time remaining’ on either track or album), where feeling was paramount, it was good.

Not sure how well this will pan out now I know the format. I should like it, though. I had that same feeling of being impressed, yet thinking there was something missing, that I do with a lot of the albums that end up being my favourites. The Lift To Experience album, for example.

I bought the latter album knowing one song. I listened to it and appreciated it, but there seemed not to be anything to grab onto. Not that there were no hooks, but that it was an intangible sounding album. I look back now, and fail to understand that perspective, but that’s what I like about first listens.

And though I can listen to any album for the first time once, you rarely get that special, lustful-yet-confused feeling. It’s the feeling I got when I first heard Aenima. I knew I liked it, on a psychological level, but I just didn’t actually like it yet.

So it was with this. I don’t know what I really think re: the brevity of the final two tracks. nice culmination, especially when viewed in the context of the grand narrative. Viewed in isolation (and sans the relief that the end of the album brought, as I was wondering when it would actually finish), I may be disappointed. They were seemingly cut short; nipped at a bud which could have flowered beautifully.

But I remembered the last Ghost album, and how that had a similarly brief conclusion to a multi-song suite. Unaware whether this was tribute, kindred spirit or mere coincidence, it reassured me nonetheless.And I was impressed by their musical manliness. How does one follow up a few 12-minute songs? Why, with one that essentially lasts 45, of course!

So this was my first experience of listening to something I think I will grow to love. And though it was a strange ride of excitement and boredom, elation and disappointment, and although I have a feeling I will like this album more in the future than I do now, this was special.

You only get one first listen.

And I hope to update my Frances The Mute experience as my knowledge and feelings about it evolve over time.

Update, Schmupdate

Damn, I’ve had this ‘ere blog for over a month now, and no new posts have been made. That’s sad. The plan was to concoct some remarkable feat of literary ingenuity and place it, fully-formed and flawless, onto the blog.

So it’s come to this. Hastily pecking away at the keyboard, as though I was some particularly keyboard-obsessed mental patient. Making things up as I go along. Don’t tell me this is going to be one of those Dear Diary dealies? Oh sweet dear crap yes…

Today was a pretty good day, then. I awoke to the jolt that ‘Home Truths’ is no longer presented by the mighty – and much missed – John Peel. Most of the programme was met with sweet sweet sleep, truth be told. Lunch date was cancelled, so I had time to exercise – a practice enacted unfortunately rarely. So, exercise I did, and briefly hit the internet to jot down my reservation number for the Jeff Buckley film I was seeing with Fran, a film entitled Amazing Grace.

So I met Fran. After a visit to an overheated music emporium, we made our way to Firefly. A posh bar in the centre of town, Firefly is either exceedingly pleasant, or the waiting room for Purgatory. During the day, when the clientele consists largely of me, it’s great. I have the plush leather sofas and bar all to myself. It’s as pleasant a place to relax as one should find in the centre of Leeds.

Of course, the Hyde-ian transformation occurs once dusk hits and the cro-magnon men enter, with their equally undeveloped ‘womenkind’. Shirts, alternately checked and diagonally-bestriped, block ones view of anything else, their foreheads jutting over their eyes like poker visors hewn from bone and skin. Leering at those poor, attractive females in the employ of the establishment, able to summon no more to their lips than ‘aaaaaright luv?’. I hate them. But I digress.

We were in there just long enough to discuss various subjects briefly (the drudge of work, the increasing shortness of days, the superiority of Tim Buckley’s ‘Song to the Siren’ to anything his son ever released. Or, indeed, any cover version of that very song) and to consume a disappointingly watery hot chocolate. Perhaps more pertinent nomenclature would have been ‘warm brown water’? On we went, to HiFi Club, and the film!

Our journey to the venue was one riddled with wrong turn… or was it merely a meandering route? Either way, ours was a journey that seemed to be misinformed… until we actually got there. And gazed upon the queue, snaking around the street corner. Hopes were resting on my internet booking actually holding water, and if it did, we’d be scrabbling for anything resembling decent seats. And would they accept my 4-year-old Leeds City Council ID card as sufficient grounds for discount ticketage?

Coincidentally, I bumped into an acquaintance, who was directly in front of us in the queue. He was partnered by an individual who we were certain was a girl, but who apparently turned out to be a 13 year-old boy. Strange indeed. This acquaintance, who shall remain unnamed, had no ticket, but was brimming with optimism regarding his (non-extant) chances of entry. He was also attempting to get the number of a good friend of mine, simply because they had a brief chat at the Leeds Festival.

He failed to comprehend one of the basic tenets of mobile phone etiquette (if indeed, such a term is not oxymoronic). He asked for the number. I told this acquaintance that I would ask said friend if he was willing to have his number doled out willy nilly (for this amounted to willy nilly number distribution). Acquaintance failed to comprehend this, and repeated his theory. Once more, rebuttal was in order. However, being the eternal diplomat, I thought of another plan. I would take the number of Acquaintance, and pass it on to Friend, so the latter would have the choice of whether he wanted contact to occur. Still Acquaintance failed to understand. nevertheless, I took the number, and said I’d pass it on.

Fortunately for Acquaintance, a middle-aged lady with a ticket wanted to return said ticket. She decided HiFi wasn’t the venue she wanted to see the film. Acquaintance stepped in, suggesting he could take said ticket from her. So he bought it. HiFi Employee said “but it’s only one ticket”, at which point Acquaintance turned to his associate of indeterminate sex and said see you later”. The expression on the face of associate was one of pure disappointment. I was awaiting tears, but exit prevented such a view.

My tickets arrived in due course, and identification wasn’t even sought. Good. We entered the venue, and took our places at a table, with sufficient (read: full screen) view. More fool me:

There were spare seats in front of us, which were duly taken by a man in a Joy Division t-shirt and his colleagues. They disappeared off, and a beautiful young lady – rather reminiscent of Fairuza Balk in The Craft – aproached. “Are these seats taken?”, she asked, at which point a completely misguided sense of loyalty to Joy Division Bloke kicked in. “Yes”, I mumbled, and she moved on, checking me out all the while.

JDB never returned, and the seats were taken by two idiotic couples, whose idea of watching a film consisted of talking through it (especially when Jeff Bleedin’ Buckley was singing), and of course bringing their heads together and obscuring my view of the screen. Morons. I was tempted to tap one of the ‘men’ on the shoulder and request he desist this ridiculous behaviour, but I maintained an (evidently misguided) optimism that this would stop.

And to think I could have had young Fairuza in their place…

The film itself was decent enough. It was a very well made puff piece, which hit all the right buttons in regard to making us fall in love with Buckley, and featuring sizeable quantities of performance. Chris Cornell added his thoughts on JB, as did the rather incogruous Sebastian Bach, which was a breath of fresh air (as was Skid Row’s rendition of ‘Eternal Life’). Usually, puff pieces aren’t to my taste, being as they are lengthy adverts for whatever subject is at hand.

However, given the high quality of todays subject, and the fact that people seem to find it impossible to attain any semblance of objectivity regarding the late, young Buckley, this was forgivable.

Not so for Fran, who had seen many Buckley DVDs and TV specials, and for whom this was largely deja vu. Not enough new material, apparently. So be it, but for someone as wonderfully uninformed as I, ’twas quite the eye-opener.

Erk. Might finish this missive to mineself tomorrow…

Album Reviews

13&God: Men of Station E.P. (2005)
Akimbo: Jersey Shores (2008) (Initial Thoughts)
An Albatross: The An Albatross Family Album (2008) (Initial Thoughts)
Animal Collective: Merriweather Post Pavilion (2009) (Initial Thoughts)
Asa-Chang & Junray: Minna no Junray (2005)
Ascoltare: B E A M, Part 1 (2007)
Be Your Own PET: Get Awkward (2008) (Initial Thoughts)
Beirut/Realpeople: March of the Zapotec/Holland (2009) (Initial Thoughts)
Björk: Volta (2007) (Initial Thoughts)
James Blackshaw: The Glass Bead Game (2009) (Initial Thoughts)
Bohren und der Club of Gore: Dolores (2008) (Initial Thoughts)
Boris: Smile (2008) (JPN Release, Initial Thoughts)
Boxcutter: Glyphic (2007) (Initial Thoughts)
Burial: Untrue (2007) (Initial Thoughts)
Burning Star Core: The Very Heart Of The World (2005)
CYNE: Evolution Fight (2005)
Cage: Hell's Winter (2005)
Cave In: Perfect Pitch Black (2005)
Clutch: Strange Cousins From the West (2009) (Initial Thoughts)
Chris Cornell: Carry On (2007) (Initial Thoughts)
Dungen: 4 (2008) (Initial Thoughts)
Earth: The Bees Made Honey in the Lion’s Skull (2008) (Initial Thoughts)
Emeralds: What Happened (2009) (Initial Thoughts)
Evangelista: Prince of Truth (2009) (Initial Thoughts)
Fantômas: Suspended Animation (2005)
Flood Of Red: Leaving Everything Behind (2009) (Initial Thoughts)
Foetus: Love (2005)
Jason Forrest: Lady Fantasy E.P. (2005)
Jason Forrest: Shamelessly Exciting (2005)
General Patton vs. The X-ecutioners: Joint Special Operations Task Force (2005)
Genghis Tron: Board Up the House (2008) (Initial Thoughts)
Great Lake Swimmers: Bodies And Minds (2005)
High On Fire: Blessed Black Wings (2005)
Howling Hex: Earth Junk (2008) (Initial Thoughts)
Isis: Wavering Radiant (2009) (Initial Thoughts)
Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan: Keep Me in Mind Sweetheart (2008) (Initial Thoughts)
Jackie-O Motherfucker: The Blood of Life (2008) (Initial Thoughts)
Jackson And His Computer Band: Smash (2005)
Jaguar Love: Take Me to the Sea (2008) (Initial Thoughts)
Kid606: Resilience (2005)
Kyuss: Blues for the Red Sun (1992)
LCD Soundsystem: LCD Soundsystem (2005)
Little Brother: The Minstrel Show (2005)
Low Frequency In Stereo: Futuro (2009) (Initial Thoughts)
Lydia Lunch: Smoke in the Shadows (2005)
Lustmord: [other] (2008)
M.I.A.: Arular (2005)
The Mars Volta: Frances the Mute (2005) (Initial Thoughts)
Mastodon: Crack the Skye (2009) (Initial Thoughts)
Matmos: Supreme Balloon (2008) (Initial Thoughts)
Metallica: Death Magnetic (2008) (Initial Thoughts)
Metric: Fantasies (2009) (Initial Thoughts)
Mono: Hymn to the Immortal Wind (2009) (Initial Thoughts)
Om: God is Good (2009) (Initial Thoughts)
Opeth: Ghost Reveries (2005)
Oskar: LP:2 (2009) (Initial Thoughts)
Pig Destroyer: Phantom Limb (2007) (Initial Thoughts)
Portishead: Dummy (1994)
Prince and the Revolution: Parade (1986)
Queens Of The Stone Age: Era Vulgaris (2007) (Initial Thoughts)
Queens Of The Stone Age: Lullabies to Paralyze (2005)
Jay Reatard: Matador Singles ‘08 (2008) (Initial Thoughts)
S.N.D.: 4,5,6 (2008)
Serena Maneesh: Serena Maneesh (2005)
Shackleton: Death Is Not Final (2008)
Shaw Bros.: Kung Fu Super Sounds (2008) (Initial Thoughts)
Soundgarden: Superunknown (1994)
Squarepusher: Just a Souvenir (2008) (Initial Thoughts)
Izzy Stradlin: Like a Dog (2005)
sunnO))) & Boris: Altar (2006) Initial Thoughts
System Of A Down: Mezmerize (2005)
Teeth Of The Sea: Orphaned by the Ocean (2009) (Initial Thoughts)
Tobacco: Fucked Up Friends (2009) (Initial Thoughts)
Amon Tobin: Splinter Cell Chaos Theory (2005)
Tool: 10,000 Days (2006) (Initial Thoughts)
Verse En Coma: Rialto (2008) (Initial Thoughts)
Susanna Wallumrød: Flower of Evil (2009) (Initial Thoughts)
The Wildhearts: The Wildhearts (2007) (Initial Thoughts)
The Wildhearts: The Wildhearts Must be Destroyed (2003)
The Wildhearts: Fishing for Luckies (1996)
The Wildhearts: P.H.U.Q. (1995)
The Wildhearts: Earth vs. The Wildhearts (1993)
Wolf Eyes: Human Animal (2006)
Wolves In The Throne Room: Black Cascade (2009) (Initial Thoughts)
Susumu Yokota: Mother (2009) (Initial Thoughts)
Zozobra: Bird of Prey (2008)