This is What We Do is the 9th release from progressive rock chameleons French TV. The title of the CD itself is pretty indicative, as if to say "well, here it is folks, this is us in a nutshell". For prog fans, that is certainly reason to celebrate. Regular readers of Sea of Tranquility and of course fans of the band should be no strangers to the sound of this Kentucky ensemble, who seamlessly blend influences like Frank Zappa, Happy the Man, Gentle Giant, Univers Zero, The Muffins, Hatfield & the North, King Crimson, and ELP, and come out with this engaging yet complex wonder of sound that calls itself French TV. This latest release continues along the same path, as the band, led by bassist Mike Sary, weaves their way through 5 tracks of complex surprises and adventures.
The cast of French TV this time around is basically the same as on Pardon Our French from 2004, as joining Sary yet again are Chris Smith on guitars & violin, Warren Dale on keyboards, winds, reeds, & mallets, and Jeff Gard on drums. Guests include Paolo Botta, who plays keyboards on one track, Pam Thompson on trombone, and Steven Dale on trumpet. There's a healthy mix of the eclectic (organized mayhem I like to call it) as well as some truly beautiful and breathtaking stuff. The latter is most evident on the humorously titled "Look at the Bears! Look at the Bears! Look at the Bears!", which mixes some lush prog with quirky & intricate Canterbury styled jazz. Featuring some soaring woodwinds, intense fuzz guitar, and symphonic keyboard solos, this one is a real keeper. Not that the rest of the songs don't click as well. The opening "Colorless Ideas Sleep Furiousl" is a proggy delight with wild keyboard arrangements, as the band shows their love for ELP, while "Ska Face" really grooves with some danceable rhythms and Zappa-ish workouts, especially from the guitars and reeds. "My Little Cicada" seems to hit from many levels, jazz one minute, 70's prog the next (listen for the Mellotron washes), to bouncy and bubbly Canterbury based fusion the next. Most importantly, the song has tremendous groove, which is always important. The closing epic "Theme From ESPN X-treme Cobalt Blue 4x4 bathroom Tile Installation Games" is a real fun piece, with plenty of solo spots for all the players, as well as catchy melodies and an overall fun atmosphere to it.
You get the feeling that French TV really like what they do, as there is just a jovial feeling you get from listening to this CD. That's really a characterist of the band in general-they are having fun, and they want the listener to have fun as well. I certainly did, so go out and grab a copy of This is What We Do and be prepared to be wowed and moved... and enjoy yourself while you are at it.
1) Colorless Ideas Sleep Furiously (10:19)
2) Ska Face (8:24)
3) My Little Cicada (11:48)
4) Look at the Bears! Look at the Bears! Look at the Bears! (8:10)
5) Theme From ESPN X-treme Cobalt Blue 4x4 bathroom Tile Installation Games (13:01)