Monday, June 21, 2010

Art Bears - 3 albums (1978 - 1981)

A warm and wonderful avant-garde band - Art Bears were an Englishavant-rock group formed during the disassembly of Henry Cow in 1978 by three of its members, Chris Cutler(percussion, texts),Fred Frith (guitar, bass guitar, violin, keyboards) andDagmar Krause (vocals). The group released three studio albums between 1978 and 1981, and toured Europe in 1979.
Well, whatever you think after hearing this, you won't be able to say it ain't interesting.


Hopes & Fears (1978)

The first album from Dagmar Krause, Chris Cutler, and Fred Frith's post-Henry Cow project is one of the art rock masterpieces of the 1970s. It's as politically potent as Henry Cow's more strident work, but couched in more poetic and provocative terms. Opening with Bertolt Brecht's "On Suicide," with Krause declaiming the playwright's bitter lyrics in her semi-operatic style to the wheezing accompaniment of Frith's harmonium, the album continues in that uncompromising vein.


Winter Songs (1978)

Finding distribution on the Residents' Ralph Records label, the Art Bears' second album consists of 12 songs of various tensions: rest vs. speed, improv vs. pulse, space vs. density, Dagmar Kraus's vocals vs. everyone else. As usual, Chris Cutler's lyrics tell political allegories through medieval-tinged stories: slaves, castles, and wheels of fortune (and industry) dominate. A guaranteed lease breaker if played often enough.


The World As It Is Today (1981)

On The World As It Is Today and its predecessor, Winter Songs, the Art Bears move away from the long-form art rock of Henry Cow and get much, much more politically explicit: song titles like "The Song of the Dignity of Labour Under Capital" and "The Song of Investment Capital Overseas" almost sound like Monty Python gags today, but if any humor was intended it was clearly meant to be mordant. Frankly, the lyrics are so overwrought and portentous that it's hard to take them seriously. But the music is something else again.



Anonymous said...

hey great blog, interesting posts. thanks for this 1st Art bears record.

Panda Stuffer said...

Thanks, enjoy the stay:)

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