French TV

The Violence of Amateurs

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Mike Sary's outfit surpassed any possible expectations with The Violence of Amateurs, a masterpiece of avant-garde progressive rock and a CD much stronger than French TV's previous albums. Surrounding the bassist this time are guitarist Dean Zigoris and keyboardist John Robinson. These three form the nucleus of this version of the band. Around them revolve drummers Bob Douglas, Brian Donohoe (of Volaré), and Chris Vincent, flutist and saxophonist Greg Acker, keyboardist Jon Encifer, and violinist Cathy Moeller. Even Eugene Chadbourne sits in for one of his trademark banjo runs on the opening track, "The Kokonino Stomp," a dance suited for epileptics with diarrhea. In a little less than five minutes, French TV says more than all of Genesis' records together. This track is all over the place, the craziest ever-changing stomping rhythm being topped by an angular melody that is actually catchy. "The Secret Life of Walter Riddle" is even worse (or better!). Held together by an old detective series atmosphere, this piece is a sound orgy going from swing to circus to cartoon music. "The Odessa Steps Sequence" allows the listener a pause by returning to more straightforward progressive rock. This rendition of Volaré's piece transcends the original recording and pushes the tune one step further. The album closes with another cover, a 22-minute rendition of the Samla Mammas Manna's classic track "Joosan Lost/The Fate" (also known as "Ödet"), a masterpiece on its own, here enhanced by a flamboyant interpretation that includes a free improv section. This record embodies everything avant-prog is about: complex, singular, funny, and subversive. As a bonus, listeners are treated to a short story in which French TV is the hit band of the hour and young beautiful women ride in Jeeps listening to Magma's Attahk. Very strongly recommended for fans of anything out of the ordinary.

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