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Tracklist: 1. That Thing On the Wall 8:53 (Sary, Zigoris, Vincent, Dale) 2. Viable Tissue Matter 11:45 (Sary, Zigoris, Vincent, Dale) 3. Partly the State 10:30 (Fortney) 4. One Humiliating Incident After Another 9:19 (Sary, Dale, Smith) 5. Under the Big "W" 14:18 (Sary, Zigoris, Vincent, Dale, Weatherby) Line-up: Mike Sary - bass Warren Dale - keyboards, vibe; saxophone, & clarinet Chris Vincent - drums Dean Zigoris - guitar Chris Smith - violin; guitar, mandolin, & banjo Guest musicians: Greg Acker - flute & saxophone (on 2, 4, & 5) Cathy Moeller - violin (2 & 5) Cliff Fortney - recorder & flute; vocals (3) Karen Hyer - vocalizes (3) Shawn Persinger - acoustic guitar (3) Kirk Davis - percussion (3) Steven Dale - trumpet & euphonium (4) Pam Thompson - tuba (5) Produced by Mike Sary & Warren Dale. Recorded &mixed by Howie Gano at "Mom's Music" studio, Louisville, Kentucky, USA.
Prologue. In fact, the new brand French TV album "The Case Against Art" was completed back in December 2001, while from a factory, CD's arrived only in the end of January. However, the main thing is the fact that the contemporary Progressive Rock Titans are back with their seventh musical journey.
The Album. I am burning with the desire to immediately let you know that the new French TV album is not only as outstanding as their previous masterpiece "The Violence of Amateurs", but also, it clearly shows that the words like ''repetition", "stagnation", and not to mention "decadence", aren't applicable to such true Heroes of Prog as French TV. "The Case Against Art" is another remarkable example of these veterans' indefatigability in searching for new ways in their creation. "Forever Forward!" or (just) "Progress!" should be the motto of this unique musical unit. As for their humoresque left-center political vision, this reviewer regards it very progressive as well, though I think this shouldn't surprise you dear readers. Well, it is time to tell you of the stylistic and other musical constituents of this great album. Now, I'll repeat the phrases I use rather frequently, though they more than fit in with the music of French TV. Each of the five compositions that are featured on the album, contain very diverse and complex arrangements, all of which are filled with seemingly endless and often atonal interplay between various soloing instruments (just have a look at the line-up of this album), constant and mostly sudden changes of tone and mood, etc. Also, it must be mentioned that there are not many musicians on the contemporary Progressive Rock scene who would be as masterful by all means as the members of French TV. As for the stylistics the band presented on this album, don't expect to hear something typical for their previous works. Here, you won't find even the slight traces of RIO, Canterbury, and real Jazz-Fusion. On the whole, the music on "The Case Against Art" represents a very innovative manifestation of Classic Symphonic Progressive. Just the elements of Jazz-Fusion and Prog-Metal (yeah) that are also presented here, are nothing else but the usual components of that genre, aren't they? You can easily find them in the early (classic!) albums by Yes, ELP, Jethro Tull, etc, etc. It's quite another matter that on "The Case Against Art", all of those notorious genre constituents were used in such an original way that the album sounds as innovative and futuristic as, for example, Yes's "Tales From Topographic Oceans" had sounded at the time when it was released. In that way, the most correct definition of the new style of French TV would be not just Classic Symphonic Progressive, but a unique blend of Classic Symphonic Art-Rock and Fifth Element. Despite the title of the album, this music is real Art - in the truest meaning of the word. In other words, with such strong lawyers (the new lawmakers of Prog) as French TV, Art won the case against it. So all of the album's gems remain accessible to you. On Partly the State (track 3, which the only song on the album), you'll hear an outstandingly impressive blend of English and Middle-Eastern folksy motifs. The latter are also featured That Thing On the Wall (track 1). After all, you can't even imagine what a marvelous thing awaits your ears on Under the Big "W" (track 5). Sorry, I can't express with words how deeply I am impressed by this wonderful Rock-y waltz. Most of the tracks on the album, but especially Viable Tissue Matter and One Humiliating Incident After Another (tracks 2 & 4), are rich in the episodes that can remind one of Academic Music.
Summary. IMHO, since the second half of the 1970s until now, there weren't such strong Classic Symphonic Art-Rock albums as "The Case Against Art". So the true connoisseurs of this genre from all over the world unite under the banner of this album! As for Progressive's Fifth Element, its presence here will undoubtedly enlarge the audience of the album with still the same lovers of RIO, Canterbury, etc, not to mention the traditional fans of the band. If "The Case Against Art" would have been released back in the middle of the 1970s, it would've been a multi-platinum album.
VM. February 27, 2002
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