Cartoon — Sortie
(Cuneiform 55005, 1983/1994, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 1994-08-01The 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.
Related artist(s): Cartoon
Ginger Baker RIP – Legendary English drummer Ginger Baker has died at the age of 80. After coming to fame with Cream in the 60s alongside Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce, he became one of the most recognized and influential drummers of the rock era. On September 25, his family announced that he was critically ill, and on October 6 his death was confirmed. » Read more
Alex's Hand Seeks Spa Treatment – American / European band Alex's Hand has a new album in the works called Hungarian Spa, which looks to be their biggest and best yet, featuring a large roster of guest musicians. They're seeking funding to take the project on the road, and are looking for help from the crowd of wisdom. » Read more
Legendary Co-Founder of The 13th Floor Elevators Passes Away at Age 71 – Sadly, Roky Erickson passed away on May 31, 2019. Known as the father of psychedelic music and co-founder of the ground breaking 13th Floor Elevators, Roky had a profound influence on music from the 60s to today. Plagued by his own personal demons, Roky had a difficult life and is now free of these burdens. » Read more