Reviewed by Nuno on 10 Apr 2002
The most common phrase that you will hear from someone that listens to this onslaught album for the first time is: “What the Hell is going on here????”.
The truth is that this feeling of perplexity will endure no matter how many times you listen to this frantic and utterly lunatic band’s albums.
I believe there is no sub-genre in prog music that French TV leaves out of the mix in their difficult and extra complex releases. From Symphonic to Fusion, with a lot of RIO and Canterbury escapades and the add of humor, cartoon and circus music, old swing and many (I mean many!) other styles, they agglomerate it all in just one song, one minute, one second. It is truly unbelievable.
Off course this makes The Violence of Amateurs an album that will be too much out of grasp for most listeners, for it comprehends way too much explorations and odd structures for the most of proggers. Those who really are adventurous at heart and have compatible ears to cope with this extreme mix of genres will probably think this is a one-in-a-kind band that ensures music is well alive and progressing in all directions.
If there are songs here that mostly remain within the symphonic progressive status like, for instance, The Odessa Steps Sequence or the first part of Mail Order Quarks; others are that will probably make you believe you are having some sort of musical hallucination. In this last category you may fit the first two songs of the album, that clearly state this band is quite abnormal in what concerns their musical approaches.
The compositional skills are obviously of the highest level, completely out of any standard or status quo, making this album a classic of Avant-Garde Prog.
The closing 22 minute opus Joosan Lost/The Fate is a version of a Samla Mammas Manna song and it is a masterpiece on its own. It has an improvisation section that really shows this band’s innovative and skillful playing.
This is a complex, refreshing and real funny sonic experience that will turn to debris any musical preconception that we may still have. By the way, this kind of concept could only emerge in the progressive scene…really!
One thing I find most amusing and surprising is that this was the most sold album in the JungleCD’s sailing point, during the GAR2001 Art Rock Festival held in Portugal (along with Petrophonics by Birdsongs of the Mesozoic). Also, their new album, The Case Against Art is getting a lot of focus here, these days. At least in Portugal, this is a case of success!
Do I recommend it??? Without a doubt in my mind. But only for the real explorers.