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French TV - The Case Against Art CD (album) cover

THE CASE AGAINST ART

French TV

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

3.73 | 37 ratings

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TCat
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.

TCat | 5/5 |

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