The Mars Volta Frances the Mute (Island) When The Mars Volta first mooted the idea of Frances the Mute to their record company the executives must have wrung their hands. They'd already backed the band's 2003 concept album De-Loused in the Comatorium that followed the fortunes of a friend who went to an early grave following a life of drug abuse. Set in a fantasy world 'explained' via singer Cedric Bixler-Zavaler's nonsense lyrics, it deservedly earned The Mars Volta the prog rock label, but it was also praised for its musical complexity. Here they are back again with another conceptual work, based on another friend, this time former bandmate Jeremy Ward, who took his life through a drugs overdose in 2003. Five interconnected songs are inspired by the diary Ward found in the backseat of a car when he was working as a repo man. Characteristically hard to sum up, it is dark, lyrical, and often mesmeric. There's Bixler-Zavaler's trademark yowling, epic Led Zeppelin-style guitars, Latin rhythms, Hammond organ gone mad and the sprawling nature you'd expect sci-fi obsessed prog rockers. Mind-expanding rock of the highest order.