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

2018-10-17
Eurock Documentary Seeks Funding – We've been fans and fellow travelers with Archie Patterson and his Eurock project on the journey to discover great music. After many years of promoting and trying to spread the word,a new phase is beginning: a documentary film. Things like this don't just happen, and money does not magically appear to make it happen, so it's up to the fans to get it done. » Read more

2018-09-29
Marty Balin RIP – One of the architects of the 60s psychedelic sound of San Francisco has died at the age of 76. Marty Balin was a singer, songwriter, and guitarist who was one of the founders of Jefferson Airplane. After the split of the original Airplane, Balin went on to form the highly successful Jefferson Starship. » Read more

2018-09-25
Help the Psychic Equalizer Avoid Extinction – Last year we reviewed the debut album by Psychic Equalizer, a musical project of Hugo Selles. He's now working on the ambitious follow-up to that release, and is seeking funding from listeners around the world. » Read more

2018-09-05
Krautrock Documentary Seeks Funding – The next installment of the Progressive Warriors documentary series will focus on the vast body of music that falls under the banner of "krautrock." As most of our readers will know, previous films have tackled RIO and the Canterbury scene, as well as what we might call "mainstream" prog rock. » Read more

2018-07-31
Tomasz Stańko RIP – Tomasz Stańko, one of the greats of Eastern European jazz, has died at the age of 76. Stańko's career started in Krzysztof Komeda's quintet, where he contributed trumpet from 1963-1967, when he formed his own group. He worked extensively with Edward Vesala, Don Cherry, Zbigniew Seifert, Chico Freeman, Howard Johnson, Cecil Taylor, and many others. Many of his recordings have been released by ECM, an association that began in the mid-70s. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Focus - Focus 9 / New Skin – After an initial stab at a return to action with 2002's Focus 8, Thijs van Leer is back with an almost totally new lineup that's sounding better than ever. That is, if your tastes for this...  (2008) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues