Header
French TV - Virtue In Futility  CD (album) cover

VIRTUE IN FUTILITY

French TV

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

3.85 | 20 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A recent discovery of mine, French TV is a band that I have learned to love quite quickly. Their eclectic approach to progressive rock music is signaled by an experimental concern to mix RIO, jazz and Canterbury-influenced rock in such a way that humor and melodic sense happen to be well amalgamated within the overall sonic frame. Their third release is entitled "Virtue in Futility" (1994), and it happens to be their first grand opus, their first expression of genuine musical maturity - I strongly recommend it as the uninitiated's entry, although generally speaking, you can never go wrong with a French TV album. Of course, I'm aware that not all prog fans and collectors are particularly keen on the avant-garde side of the genre, but the specific case of French TV reveals a reconstruction of the experimental stuff under a less inscrutable guise. 'Hey! Real Executives Jump From the 50th Floor!' gets the game started in a very rocking manner: the powerful guitar riffs, the dynamic drumming and the energetic organ interventions make it sound like a mixture of Deep Purple and ELP focusing on a long lost Happy the Man track. The soft interlude featuring a piano solo (a-la Rachmaninov) and a symphonic-oriented escalade manage to state a proper amount of variety before the main rocking passage is retaken for the conclusion. This is a solid opener guaranteed to catch the listener's attention, so 'Clanghonktweet' should be really interesting to keep the listening experience refreshing. And so it does!... It is a very playful track that incluyes Renaissance and Celtic flavors in a sort of "Jean-Luc Ponty plus special guest Kerry Minnear" sort of way. This track also contains a divergent interlude, consisting on ethereal moods (very much a-la "First Seven Days"-era Jan Hammer). Sweeter than the opener, track no. 2 is no less extravagant, with some sections that find the violin getting really loud and the synth providing some noisy psychedelic ornaments. 'The Family that Oonts Together, Groonts Together' bears a pleasant compositional development, sounding like a jazz-fusion journey that merges into the combined traditions of Shadowfax and Happy the Man, with augmented elements from Maneige and "Jazz FromHell"-era Zappa. The passages in which the trumpet solos go on shining are absolutely majestic. Generally speaking, this piece gives ample room to the delivery of agile orchestral developments, despite the fact that it is not a symphonic progressive track in itself. 'I'm Whining For That Funky Baby Of Mine' starts quite confident in its abandonment of the soft side in favor of a frantic aspect of French TV's music: the opening section is very mad, dissonant and tense in a challenging manner that anticipates the sort of work we've come to expect from the likes of Frogg Café nowadays. The free-jazz and avant elements are undeniably dominant in this track, with the musicians exchanging dialogues in a common labor against the conventional conceptions of structure. 'Empaté' retakes the kind of sophisticated magnificence we had already found in track 3: this one expands on the jazz- oriented colors and gives them a near-symphonic twist, while incorporating some airs of Crimsonian neurosis as well. This track's energetic musicality makes it a special climatic momentum in the album. 'Friends In High Places' is a bit rougher regarding its sonic framework, and it is also more Spartan: mostly based on the drum kit's cadences intertwined with recorded presidential speeches, it displays a genuine sense of menace without getting explicitly creepy. The simplicity is obviously hiding something underneath its deceitful surface. The album's last 12+ minutes are occupied by the monster track 'Slowly I Turn. Step By Step. Inch By Inch'. It starts warm and smooth, featuring a slow tempo and a gentle guitar, but there is another reality to this track. It is dark and gloomy, as is revealed by the gradual crescendo elaborated by the dense instrumentation. From the fifth minute onward, hell has already broken loose: guitar and sax assume a shared protagonist role in the sonic delivery that mixes jazz's sensual vigor and avant-prog's neurotic vibe in a very muscular way. Think of a hybrid of Frogg Café and Thinking Plague with some touches of Present and you will nail most of the track's spirit. The closing climax feels peculiarly robust, ending with some caustic drum beats before getting at the 10 minute mark. After a few seconds of silence (not a lengthy silence, according the title of the band's sophomore album), the band returns with a funk-oriented jam drowned in humor. "Virtue in Futility" is an excellent example of the sort of experimental prog rock that has been practiced and recorded in the USA from the 90s to this day - French TV is an important name in the current avant-prog scene, and definitely their discography should be more widely appreciated. 4.30 stars for this one!
Cesar Inca | 4/5 |

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

WARNING: Forum software upgrade in progress, login function maybe affected for some users during that time.

Share this FRENCH TV review

>

Review related links

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | GeoIP Services by MaxMind | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: JazzMusicArchives.com — the ultimate jazz music virtual community | MetalMusicArchives.com — the ultimate metal music virtual community


Server processing time: 0.02 seconds