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Frances the Mute is the second studio album by progressive rock band The Mars Volta released in the US on March 1, 2005. The album's lyrics often jump from Spanish to English. Though not as commercially successful as De-loused in the Comatorium, it received considerable critical praise. The album displays a deep jazz influence while infusing Latin flavor into many songs while utilising many of the Dub, Ambient and Electronica influences and techniques experimented with in De Facto and Omar Rodriguez-Lopez's solo project in order to create one cohesive composition divided into many tracks. Originally to be titled Sarcophagus, Frances the Mute sold 123,000 copies in its opening week and has sold 465,000 copies as of September 2006. The album made multiple "Best of" lists at the end of 2005. In the Q & Mojo Classic Special Edition Pink Floyd & The Story of Prog Rock, the album came #18 in its list of "40 Cosmic Rock Albums" and the album was named as one of Classic Rock‘s 10 essential progressive rock albums of the decade.

Jeremy Ward, audio artist for The Mars Volta until his death, had previously worked as a repo man. One day, Ward discovered a diary in the backseat of a car he was repossessing, and began to note the similarities between his life and that of the author — most notably, that they had both been adopted. The diary told of the author's search for his biological parents, with the way being pointed by a collection of people, their names being the basis for each named track of Frances the Mute. Ward was in the process of completing it at the time of his death.

Omar Rodriguez-Lopez wrote all the music for Frances The Mute, some of which was inspired by jams performed by the group on tour for De-Loused In The Comatorium, such as a jam frequently used in "Drunkship Of Lanterns" that evolved into the breakdown in "Cygnus….Vismund Cygnus." Rodriguez-Lopez also arranged and produced the recording sessions himself.

In December 2004, a full copy of Frances the Mute was leaked to the Internet from the vinyl version. The rip was of poor quality. Encoded as a 96 kbit/s MP3, other versions were reencoded to 192 kbit/s WMA from the source mp3, resulting in even worse audio quality. Gold Standard Laboratories issued a statement decrying the Internet release for its subpar sound quality, and suggesting that fans should respect the band's request not to share the leaked music.

The first single, "The Widow", was released in early 2005 and the album Frances the Mute was released on midnight, March 1, 2005, and sold over 100,000 copies within the first week of release, and debuted at number four on the Billboard Album Charts. The title track, "Frances the Mute", which is purportedly meant to be track one on the album and, according to the band, "decodes" the album's story, was not included in the album, and was released on March 14, 2005, in the United Kingdom. This release was a three set limited edition, containing a single with a live version of "The Widow", played at The Wiltern in Los Angeles on June 13, and the unreleased title song "Frances the Mute." Also in the collection is a DVD that includes clips from their performance at the Electric Ballroom in London on July 9, 2003, "The Widow" music video, and the "Televators" music video. Finally, the last item was a 12" single pressed on marble green vinyl including "Frances The Mute" and a live version of "The Widow", released by Gold Standard Labs. Only approximately 10,000 were pressed.

A second single from the album, "L'Via L'Viaquez" was released in June 2005. Included on this single there was another unreleased song entitled "The Bible and the Breathalyzer".

Frances The Mute debuted at No. 4 on The Billboard 200 and has sold nearly 465,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan. The album was the band's career best at No. 4 until their fourth album The Bedlam in Goliath came out almost 3 years later on the Billboard 200 at No. 3. The album was certified gold by the RIAA in the US for shipments of 500,000 albums on October 5, 2009.

In 2008, the edited version of "L'Via L'Viaquez" was featured on the video game Guitar Hero: World Tour.

Frances the Mute is comparable to The Mars Volta's 2003 release De-Loused in the Comatorium, with its cryptic, verbose lyrics, and highly layered instrumentals, although the progressive rock influence is stronger on Frances the Mute than it was on De-Loused in the Comatorium. The band's musical influences are more prominent; the guitar solo on "The Widow" seems inspired by classic rock, and much of the album has a psychedelic feel to it. Perhaps because of inspiration from such Pink Floyd albums as Meddle, ambient noise plays a larger role on Frances the Mute than it does on De-Loused in the Comatorium. "Miranda That Ghost Just Isn't Holy Anymore", for example, begins with 4 minutes of coquí frogs singing while a thick soundscape is slowly built from Cedric Bixler-Zavala's voice and synthesizers.

Regarding the album's lyrical content, vocalist Cedric Bixler-Zavala has stated that:
“ A lot of it was written on the spot. Omar — because he collects TVs — would set up his wall of TVs again. We used to live together and he would set them up all the time — kind of like in the David Bowie movie, The Man Who Fell to Earth, he had a stack of TVs like that. So he would do that while I would record vocals, and that would be the main inspiration. So it was everything from The Magnificent Seven and any Akira Kurosawa stuff. And I wouldn’t have lyrics]written right away; I would just do takes of gibberish and then later try to fix them to make them into words. Sometimes he wanted to just keep the gibberish takes which he liked a lot better because it was the first reaction to the music. It’s just really being in a state of being willing to give up to the producer your scratch tracks, as opposed to really working on it and refining it. "

The finalized track listing had five tracks and was intended to be released as such on all formats; the vinyl version and online retailer copies (such as those from the iTunes Store) can be found with this track listing. Because of disputes with Universal Records, "Cassandra Gemini" (listed as "Cassandra Geminni" on most versions of the album) 5 was arbitrarily split into eight tracks on the CD version, taking up tracks 5 through 12, since the band would otherwise only be paid an EP's wages for a 5 track album. The splits in the eight CD tracks (5 through 12) do not represent the five listed movements of the song, although the entirety of Sarcophagi is within the track 12.

On vinyl, "Cassandra Gemini" was split among two sides, in the middle of "Faminepulse". Each side of vinyl (save the final one) ends with a locked groove, repeating either a sound effect or a bar of music endlessly until the needle is lifted. The third side, containing "Miranda That Ghost Just Isn't Holy Anymore", opens by repeating the 30 seconds of coquí noises that conclude "L'Via L'Viaquez"; this small portion is indexed separately from "Miranda". A limited edition 4LP version also contained the Widow single as the fourth vinyl; all four discs were printed on glow-in-the-dark vinyl and were packaged in a red plastic case.

PLEASE FIX YOUR TAGS

If you have the 12 track version, the correct tracklist is:

1. Cygnus….Vismund Cygnus 13:02
2. The Widow 5:50
3. L'Via L'Viaquez 12:21
4. Miranda That Ghost Just Isn't Holy Anymore 13:09
5. Cassandra Gemini: - A. Tarantism I 4:45
6. Cassandra Gemini: - A. Tarantism II 6:40
7. Cassandra Gemini: - B. Plant a Nail in the Navel Stream I 2:55
8. Cassandra Gemini: - B. Plant a Nail in the Navel Stream II 7:41
9. Cassandra Gemini: - C. Faminepulse I 4:59
10. Cassandra Gemini: - C. Faminepulse II / D. Multiple Spouse Wounds I 3:48
11. Cassandra Gemini: - D. Multiple Spouse Wounds II 0:46
12. Cassandra Gemini: - E. Sarcophagi 0:54

If you have the version with 5 tracks, the correct tracklist is:
1. Cygnus….Vismund Cygnus 13:02
2. The Widow 5:50
3. L'Via L'Viaquez 12:21
4. Miranda That Ghost Just Isn't Holy Anymore 13:09
5. Cassandra Gemini 32:32

Due to disputes with Universal Records, "Cassandra Geminni" was arbitrarily split into eight tracks on the CD version, taking up tracks 5 through 12, since the band would otherwise only be paid an EP's wages for a 5 track album. The song was not split along its five movements lines, although the entirety of "Sarcophagi" is within the 12th track.

The title track, Frances the Mute, was not included in the album but you can find it on the single for The Widow (http://musicbrainz.org/release/259d2048-1209-449a-b6e0-32f49e4d22f1.html). The most frequent convention is to place it before the other songs on the album.

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