Exposé Online banner

Cartoon — Sortie
(Cuneiform 55005, 1983/1994, CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 1994-08-01

Sortie Cover artThe end of the 70s and first years of the 80s were a defining time in the history of progressive rock. The dinosaurs that had dominated throughout the first half of the 70s were rapidly becoming a major embarrassment to the cause as they released substandard albums like Duke, Tormato, and Love Beach. There was no big nostalgia movement afoot yet to try and follow in their footsteps (Marillion and IQ were still learning how to play). At the same time, though, movements were afoot in Europe and the UK, from which a powerful new progressive ethic was being born: witness Art Bears, Urban Sax, Art Zoyd, Zamla, Univers Zero, and so on... very different and separate from all that had gone down before. And on the American side of the water, bands like the Muffins, Chrome, Mars Everywhere, and Cartoon were offering up an entirely new perspective as well. Sortie combines both of Cartoon's studio albums Cartoon and Music from Left Field (minus one track) on a single disc. Cartoon's music could be described as a mixture of rock, jazz elements, improvisation and avant-garde with a healthy injection of classical music. The original lineup was a three-piece of keyboards, guitars and drums, but for most of their career they were a five-piece with woodwinds and violins added. Complexity was their trademark, as well as the seemingly incongruous juxtaposition of styles within their reach, and first-rate musicianship. The first album is the more accessible of the two, accounting for tracks 1-7; here is where rock makes its strongest appearance, and improvisation (at least it seems) is minimal - the songs are tightly arranged and executed with precision. With the second album (tracks 8-12, with "Trio" left off), the band moves into more experimental territory, with more use of dissonance and improvisation; for the most part it works, but at times the neo-classical improvs get a mite tedious. Still, it's all approached with a good sense of humor and an adventurous spirit. Cartoon's music does take time to absorb, it's not catchy and hook-ridden, so it may take a listen or two to reach full appreciation, but there's plenty here to hold your interest.

Filed under: Reissues, Issue 4, 1994 releases, 1983 recordings

Related artist(s): Cartoon

Latest news

2017-02-20
Larry Coryell RIP – One of the greats of jazz guitar has left us at the age of 73. Larry Coryell was one of the founding figures of jazz fusion, but produced a significant body of work the bridged many styles. His group Eleventh House provided a unique take on the combination of jazz and rock that was distinct from contemporaries such as Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return to Forever, and Weather Report. » Read more

2017-01-31
John Wetton RIP – After a long battle with colon cancer, singer and bassist John Wetton has died at the age of 67. As an integral member of such bands as King Crimson, UK, and Asia, his was one of the distinctive voices in progressive rock, lending a human touch to often difficult music. » Read more

2017-01-30
Seaprog Announces First Artists for 2017 – The organizers of the Seaprog Festival in Seattle have announced the first set of confirmed performers for the 2017 festival. The best known names are Jack o' the Clock and Zero Times Everything, but a host of other bands are featured, mostly from the Northwest. The festival will take place June 2-4, 2017. » Read more

2017-01-27
Acoustic Festival of Britain 2017 Announces Eclectic Lineup – The Acoustic Festival of Britain has been going since 2006, and this year's event sees a number of outstanding artists on the bill. Fairport Convention, Tir na nOg, and Martin Turner are some of the artists we've covered, and there are many more, including The Men They Couldn't Hang, Howard Jones, Chantel McGregor, and many more. The festival runs June 2-4, 2017 at Uttoxeter Racecourse in Staffordshire. » Read more

2017-01-26
Butch Trucks RIP – Butch Trucks was one of two drummers in the first incarnation of the Allman Brothers Band in 1969, helping the band achieve its legendary status as an American original. He died on January 24, 2017 of a self-inflicted gunshot would. He was 69. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Happy Rhodes - Many Worlds Are Born Tonight – Happy Rhodes is now at her eighth studio album, and it is her first to be released on a label other than her own Aural Gratification. Not that signing with Samson is exactly a move to the majors. This...  (1999) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues