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Cartoon Cartoon album cover
4.32 | 30 ratings | 5 reviews | 30% 5 stars

Essential: a masterpiece of
progressive rock music

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Studio Album, released in 1982

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Shark (8:16)
2. Ptomaine Poisoning (8:02)
3. Anemic Bolero (3:33)
4. Flotsam (4:01)
5. Apathy In America (5:33)
6. I Have No Teeth (1:03)
7. Shredded Wheat (11:22)

Total Time 41:10

Line-up / Musicians

- Mark Innocenti / guitars, bass (2)
- Scott Brazieal / keyboards, marimbas
- Gary Parra / percussion

Releases information

Originally recorded in 1979/80, at Synchestra Studios, Phoenix, Arizona.

Artwork: Jim Dunaway

LP Twelve Tone Productions ‎- none (1982, US)

CD Cuneiform Records ‎- 55005 (1994, US) Together with 1983 "MUSIC FROM LEFT FIELD" on one disc
CD Apolon - APCY-8463 (2004)

Thanks to Geck0 for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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CARTOON Cartoon ratings distribution

(30 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(30%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(43%)
Good, but non-essential (20%)
Collectors/fans only (7%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

CARTOON Cartoon reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Atavachron
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars 1979 was the death knell of the classic progressive rock era, and only a few gems would arrive by 1980 with Drama, Permanent Waves and a smattering of others, but it was all over and everyone sensed it. But in Phoenix, Arizona, things were just getting started and a local group of talented young musicians had something surprising on the menu, especially for an American avant-garde rock band at that time. Keyboardist Scott Brazieal, guitarist Mark Innocenti, and drummer Gary Para wanted to do highly complex rock that was playful at the same time, and their fondness for incidental cartoon music was as strong as the neo-classical foundation provided by Brazieal's keys. The band relocated to San Francisco in 1980 where they were joined by violinist Craig Fry and Herb Diamant on woodwinds, releasing their debut Cartoon in 1981.

Though the music is likened to avant-garders such as Univers Zero and Henry Cow, it is neither as dark as the Zeroes nor as loose as Cow, with a symphonic structure in Scott Brazeal's piano and a heavy rock edge from Innocenti's guitar. Much Zappa-like humor is on hand as well and makes for a well rounded prog rock experience. The chaotic 'Shark' opens the album, a pounder that quickly slips into strangeness before just as quickly becoming light, melodic and linear, with appearances by Ludwig Von's 9th and the fine arrangements and ambition of this outfit who, though perhaps not as tight as their counterparts across the Atlantic, were just as zealous about expanding rock. Brazeal's keyboard takes over for the troubled and angled 'Ptomaine Poisoning', Ravel's influence and some great virtuoso playing shows on 'Anemic Bolero' followed by the crawling anthill 'Flotsam' with its asylum tone and muffled voices, all quite rattling for a group of unknown American rockers in the early 80s. 'Apathy in America' is disjointed and counter-layered with powerful piano, synth, bass and drums, finishing with the descriptive cartoon themes the band liked to highlight and hints of Aaron Copland. 'I Have No Teeth' is a beautiful one-minute synth/guitar tour of linear space and squeaky moments, and the album closes with the eleven-minute opus 'Shredded Wheat'.

A splendid band nearly lost to history, Cartoon reminds us that the United States had some prog treasures to offer at a bleak time in popular music. A real delight.

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars CARTOON have been compared to UNIVERS ZERO and HENRY COW for their classical influenced, Avant- gard style of music. What amazes me about their debut is that it is played by a trio (drums, keys and guitar) when the music often seems like it is being played by a 6-8 piece band, as the soundscape is often filled by a collage of intricate sounds.The drums and piano really lead the way most of time.This is so complex, yet so melodic at times.Very impressive.

"Shark" opens with a good beat as piano and guitar take turns taking the lead. Things get a little dissonant before 2 minutes when the melody stops. A new melody takes over and it sounds fantastic. Very melodic and beautiful. A change after 5 minutes as another melody takes over after some cartoonish sounds. Guess what ? This sounds really good as well. That melody stops before 7 minutes as some samples come in.The last section includes some aggressive guitar. Nice. "Ptomaine Poisoning" opens with some random piano sounds. We start to get a piano melody after a minute. Drums come in and then a full sound before 4 minutes. The full sound comes and goes. Great sound 6 minutes in. "Anemic Bolero" features some intricate guitar and beautiful piano melodies as drums keep up the beat throughout. "Flotsam" features what sounds like violin sounds as drums jab away. It gets dissonant a minute in with voices in the background. It all stops as different sounds come and go with no melody, then the previous melody returns with some angular guitar. Nice. The contrast coninues. Great tune. Some cartoon moments as well.

"Apathy In America" features outbursts of drums and piano that come and go. They become more steady until before 2 minutes it changes to a calm as it settles down until 3 minutes. Then back to that soundscape of intricate sounds. "I Have No Teeth" is experimental and turns spacey. "Shredded Wheat" is rather dark and haunting as we all know shredded wheat can be. You'll never hear corn flakes described this way. Anyway I like the dark mood they create here. It kicks into gear 2 minutes in with some ripping guitar. This is intense. Check out the piano. There is yelling in the background after 4 minutes. Vibes 5 1/2 minutes in. It's eerie again after 6 minutes. A new melody 8 minutes in with drums and piano. Angular guitar 9 1/2 minutes in is fantastic followed by a complex array of intricate sounds. The song and album ends with a funny phone call. My favourite tracks are the opening and the closing ones.

This is music for those who like it challenging, well played and humerous. 4.5 stars.

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
5 stars Ahhh, the days of the used record store. For a dollar or two you could purchase some unknown gem based only on the look of the album cover, bring it home, and who knows...

This was one of those rare finds. This trio plays music somwhere between Henry Cow and Univers Zero, but definitely occupying their own space. They blend symphonic prog, free improvisation, and jazz stylings into a wonderful work of RIO.

Shark even manages to fit in a bit of Beethoven. Anemic Bolero builds from simple piano noodlings into a spectacular piece. Ptomaine Poisoning reminds me a bit of "Weasels Ripped My Flesh" era Zappa. (I'm pretty sure the titles of the second and third track are swapped on this site, as my LP sleeve confirms).

Flotsam opens the second side of the record with Schoenberg-like orchestration, quickly turning into electronic music madness. Super cool. Apathy In America begins sounding like a Zappa/Mothers piece, but goes well beyond. I Have No Teeth gives a moment of respite before the pure glorious mayhem of Shredded Wheat begins.

I know I've made a lot of comparisons to other artists, but just to give a frame of reference. These guys really do have their own sound.

This is probably the best $1.99 I ever spent.

Review by Warthur
4 stars A tight little trio that manage to sound like a sprawling band, Cartoon were an avant-prog unit operating out of Arizona whose debut represents a thumb to the eye of commercial expectations. Like the Muffins, Cartoon blended the humour and compositional rigour of early Frank Zappa with influences from the RIO and Canterbury scenes, though to my ears Cartoon lean a little lighter on the Canterbury and a little heavier on the Henry Cow-ish side than the Muffins do. A few symphonic touches are thrown in here and there, such as a little lift from Beethoven in album opener Shark. Unjustly overlooked, perhaps some progressive label could look into doing a rerelease of this one, because it doesn't deserve the obscurity it's been languishing in.

Latest members reviews

4 stars Whitout the intent to make play on words, the music of CARTOON seems to me exactly that the name says, a soundtrack to cartoons , in special humor/childish cartoons ( for cinema or tv), howevere, their sound is not a children joke. The themes are rich in instrumental virtousity and full of mel ... (read more)

Report this review (#507765) | Posted by maryes | Tuesday, August 23, 2011 | Review Permanlink

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