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French TV


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French TV The Case Against Art album cover
3.73 | 45 ratings | 3 reviews | 18% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2001

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. That Thing on the Wall (8:53)
2. Viable Tissue Matter (11:45)
3. Partly the State (10:30)
4. One Humiliating Incident After Another (9:18)
5. Under the Big 'W' (14:18)

Total Time: 54:44

Line-up / Musicians

- Chris Smith / guitar & violin (1,3), banjo (1), mandolin (3), strings (4)
- Warren Dale / keyboards, sax (3,4), recorder (3), clarinet (4,5), woodwind (1)
- Mike Sary / bass, producer
- Chris Vincent / drums

- Dean Zigoris / guitar (2,5)
- Gregory Acker / sax (2,5), flute (2,4,5)
- Kathy Moller / violin (2,5)
- Cliff Fortney / vocals, flute & recorder (3)
- Shawn Persinger / acoustic guitar (3)
- Kirk Davis / percussion (3)
- Karen Hyer / soprano vocals (3)
- Stephen Dale / trumpet & euphonium (4)
- Pam Thompson / tuba (5)

Releases information

Artwork: David Hiser (photo)

CD Pretentious Dinosaur Records - CD006 (2001, US)

Digital album

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FRENCH TV The Case Against Art ratings distribution

(45 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(18%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(55%)
Good, but non-essential (18%)
Collectors/fans only (9%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

FRENCH TV The Case Against Art reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by The Owl
4 stars Now THIS is what progressive rock is about! The ability to take a number of diverse musical influences and make something uniquely your own and actually create something new that genuinely progresses!

Under the baton of bassist Mike Sary, French TV since 1983 has created uncompromising yet engaging and dare I say even FUN progressive music. Taking its cues from far flung sources as Canterbury, Zappa, Stravinsky, RIO, Carl Stalling/Raymond Scott cartoon music, circus music and other things too numerous to mention, a curious, restless seething musical brew pours forth that simultaneously goes for the cerebral cortex and the funny bone.

"That Thing On The Wall" is a killer opening track that is all over the map, and from there, the listening gets no easier but man it's so much fun to hang onto the back of this musical roller-coaster. "Partly The State" has a brief vocal section with Cliff Fortney, who played with Happy The Man" in their earlier stages. All throughout, no one instrument dominates, but rather, the band serves up a well-balanced colorful sonic palette full of surprises. Not one weak track on here at all, and dare I say, well worth buying.

Plus, you'll also enjoy the hilaious liner notes by one Mac Belieu (who has the distinction of being the proud recipient of a brochure from the Berklee College of Music).

Review by Sinusoid
2 stars For a bit of time, I thought that French TV was one of the coolest underground bands I had discovered. They play a complex breed of music stemming from the depths of Cantebury, jazz fusion, RIO and other what-have-nots, throw in a bit of nonsense humour to ''ground themselves'' and sport some of the most hilarious liner notes this side of Frank Zappa. Naturally, I wanted to keep getting more works from them, but this album made me hit ''that thing on the wall'' a lot faster than I had anticipated.

While THE VIOLENCE OF AMATEURS is a great album in its own right, two songs in ''Tiger Tea'' and ''Mail Ordered Quarks'' weren't exactly my thing; way too serious and deviod of a memorable moment. It seems as if THE CASE AGAINST ART is trying to channel those two pieces alone and milk them out over an entire album. To put it bluntly, I was the least bit amused. What happened to the funny stuff like ''The Kokonimo Stomp''?

Beats me, although I'm sure plenty of people would enjoy having a few words with me. The only speck of funny I could find was the carnival atmosphere of that big ''W'' song at the end, but it didn't last long enough and didn't come early enough in the album for me to really care. I will admit that ''That Thing on the Wall'' is the most standout (I hesitate to say best) track here, but that's probably a byproduct of coming first and the rest of the album swimming in a sea of blah.

Any serious music fan looking for some unknown thing might be interested in this album. If you want pep, loudness, humour or excitement, then look elsewhere across a good chunk of the prog spectrum. It has music kudos, but it seems to lack focus and direction. Then again, I realize that most progsters might enjoy this album if heard, and I'm probably in a countable minority.

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars 'The Case Against Art' is the 6th full length album by the RIO/Avant Prog band 'French TV'. The band plays a crazy kind of conglomeration of many styles, but overall, it makes sense to call them avant-prog, because it is complex and it takes a lot of listens to really nail it all down. The album is made up of only 5 tracks, but the overall length is over 55 minutes, so they are all long tracks, and very complex.

At almost 9 minutes, 'That Thing on the Wall' is the shortest track on this album and it starts the off the wall instrumental complexity with simple vibes in a musical box style before it starts going off in a million different directions, one at a time. All of the avant-garde zaniness is held together by a jazz/rock fusion which is sometimes fused and sometimes not. There are recurring themes throughout the track, but they are sometimes so short before slipping into another tangent, that you hardly even know it. One minute, there are heavy guitars and the next minute it is similar to cartoon or comedy style music and complex jazz at other times and every instant of this complex masterpiece fits together like a crazy jigsaw.

'Viable Tissue Matter' starts like a pastoral tune played by a quiet flute and minimal guitar, sounding something like the prog- folk tunes of early King Crimson. It later becomes a lounge jazz sound as synths play the melody and then it twists things up with some interesting electronic effects. The pastoral sound returns with a meter and tempo change, but now we've let the evil come in as a tortured sax starts to rev things up a bit. Then complexity comes in with tricky rhythms and such while a mellotron tries to hold it all together. Then as things build, a normal rhythm is established and a guitar solo takes over along with a snappy bass solo. Things continue to build and increase in tempo until about 10 minutes when things finally calm down a bit with a steady slower tempo and the flute returns.

'Partly the State' begins as a meandering and minimal track. After a short time, a march style rhythm followed by flutes and recorders pick up the tempo. A mandolin and something that sounds like an accordion herald in the vocals (yes, vocals) singing a folkish style tune. As harmonies join, things get rather disjointed and dissonant. Strange percussion and an organ riff try to hold it all together. Things stop and a distant train whistle bring in a sudden chaotic section where the music goes everywhere and instruments are slightly abused. Now you get a strange mix of English folk, American jazz and Mid-Eastern style phrasing all at the same time. It all comes to a halt leaving us with a minimal flute again. Suddenly after 8 minutes, a boiling bass churns everything up again and brings in a cool guitar solo while vocals come in with a different meter.

'One Humiliating Incident After Another' almost sounds like a string quartet with randomly selected instruments are played. Soon, however, percussion, sax, trumpets, violin, guitar and weirdness follows. This constantly changes meter, tempo, themes and everything that it's impossible to pinpoint any one thing, yet it remains fun and entertaining throughout, strangely enough. The one thing that is constant here is the complex, yet humorous sound of the music. It all finally comes together towards the last part of the track when everything turns to a fusion style.

The final track is 'Under the Big W', which, if you have ever seen 'It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World', then the title will have some significance to you. So, the bass and percussion establish a drunken waltz style that guitars, tuba and various other instruments play along with in a clunky, cartoonish manner. Sometimes things get sentimental, and other times it gets silly. Later, a sax takes things into a bit of sanity as it plays a soft solo, but then things get nutty with odd funky sounds as horns fight with the synths. Later, a march rhythm allows things to meander a bit, then a sudden funk, jazz section with tacky synths goes takes over before a sax leads everything into some semblance of normalcy again, but of course this doesn't last and things just venture from one style to another in this 14+ minute craziness.

Again, I consider this an avant-prog masterpiece, with music that seems to wander in many different directions, yet somehow all seems to be cohesive when it is all said and done. There is a lot of humor here, but it is all in the music. Some might find all of this aimless, but it all makes sense, and as you get used to the music, you start to make more sense out of it all with its returning themes and fragments, and each track has its elements. The music is genius, and you probably won't get it all in one sitting, it has to be listened to many times to really appreciate it. This band continues to be one of my favorite discoveries here in the Prog Archives, and as it continues to amaze me, I will continue to listen to it. Definitely another masterpiece by French TV.

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