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THE VIOLENCE OF AMATEURS

French TV

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

4.14 | 62 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
5 stars So you want some totally wacked out RIO / Avant prog that will take you on a sonic journey to every nook and cranny of the prog world and beyond yet remaining at the core accessible to even the uninitiated first time listener? Well accessible in prog terms that is! This is avant prog after all but if you desire to take the plunge into the depths of the oceans of sound where basically only the imaginations of the artists are the limiting factor then this may be a great starting point for hungry adventurous music lovers. However even if you are into the wildest of the wild and the most extreme music there is to be had then this will surely satisfy. All you have to do is sit down and turn on your FRENCH TV.

Upon first listen you would swear that that band is indeed from France or Sweden or some other European destination that has achieved a well-versed repertoire of everything classic prog but to assume such would be totally mistaken because this band comes from the unexpected city of Louisville, KY of all places. The band formed in 1983 and has been around for over 30 years now and still remains surprisingly obscure outside of the small world where us freaks hang out. This album is officially titled FRENCH TV 6 ? The Violence Of Amateurs, meaning it's their sixth release but only their fifth studio album.

The overall sound is a mix of a National Health kind of Canterbury sound with all kinds of light airy flutes and winds, the zaniness of Samla Mamma's Manna and Zappa with their comedic approach to their delivery, Happy The Man with their complex time signatures and breaks, jazz-fusion with wild and disturbing sax solos and a sprinkling of a gazillion others. It's pretty much an instrumental affair with only a few vocal utterings dispersed throughout.

I have to say that I love this wild, unpredictable, original and totally out there progressive music. It flows very nicely so it's fairly easy to follow even though it is so diverse, so eclectic, so zany, so catchy, so complex, so weird. I'm hooked. It wouldn't be unfounded to compare them with Mr Bungle either since they incorporate many styles of prog and other farreaching genres ranging from surf and big band to bluegrass and Krautrock. The main difference is that while Bungle tends to offer brief interludes into a certain sound, FRENCH TV has more of a jam approach and is not afraid to let the music develop for a while and then offer subtle variations. The music is very playful and never feels like it's taking itself too seriously. It just sounds like a bunch of guys who absolutely love music and doing what they do best.

The album begins with "The Kokonino Stomp" which has a kind of alternative big band swing intro and soon takes you somewhere else completely. This track even finds a way to incorporate the Hawaiian nose flute. Hopefully no boogers were hurt during recording.

"The Secret Life Of Walter Riddle" begins with a marching band kind of feel with whistling sound but soon turns into a rocker with a smoking guitar solo becoming a synth dominated jam before morphing into an avant-jazz number with a tripped out sax solo.

"The Odessa Steps Sequence" is a cover from one of the few US Canterbury acts Volare, off their "Memoirs" album. This tracks starts out nice and melodic and pastoral but becomes more aggressive and avant-garde. Comparisons to The Muffins have been made.

"Mail Order Quarks" starts out like a nice melodic breezy jazz-fusion piece with beautiful flutes carrying out its run of this song throughout its entirety making this one the most normal or least bizarre tracks on the album keeping the same pace and feel with a few surprises.

"Tiger Tea" takes us on another journey. This time it sounds like a fusion of South African jazz (of the Thelani Ajb sort) mixed with a Canterbury sound replete with odd time signatures and breaks with all kinds of interludes gradually ramping up to faster and more complex runs.

The grand finale "Joosan Lost / The Fate" which is at 21:40 is the longest track is a cover of a Zamla Mammaz Manna track off of their 1978 Schlagerns Mystik album. I'm not one who usually likes covers of complex pieces of this sort because they usually come off as inferior versions trying to replicate an identical sound and performance. In this case FRENCH TV pulls it off with ease doing the original justice while making it their own and even adding a Krautrock freakout towards the end. The result is a success and is the perfect wrapping up of an excellent album that after getting my greasy little mitts on I have been playing non-stop (this album has been out-of-print for a while). This is my first full FRENCH TV album and it has definitely whetted my appetite for MORE! MORE! MORE!

siLLy puPPy | 5/5 |

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