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Henry Cow - Unrest CD (album) cover


Henry Cow



3.50 | 172 ratings

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3 stars Where to start with this album? Most albums I listen to, I tend to either like (sometimes a lot) or dislike (also sometimes a lot), but this album has bits of both moments. With a lineup like this however, one would at least expect very good/solid chamber-esque music anyway. I don't feel like doing a really long intro, so let's jump right into the songs:

1. Bittern Storm over Ulm - Quite a fantastic intro song. The drums start with an almost mechanical feel before they really come alive, followed by some neat guitar noodling that works very well here. Sax provides great background here as well. If you like RIO music at all, this is quite an enjoyable piece. Very complex and multi-layered. I almost wish it went on a bit longer. 8/10

2. Half Asleep, Half Awake - Unfortunately when I listen to this song, I sometimes feel the way that the title describes. Starts with a nice piano intro before drums, bass and some horned instrument comes in (I sadly have a hard time telling brass/horned instruments apart from each other). A sax solo comes in later on. I like the way this piece starts, but the mood doesn't really change much, well, at all actually and the musicians feel content to noodle for most of the song. It does however end with some piano soloing, but that comes in a after too much noodling. There's so much of it on this song that I have a hard time dealing with it. 5/10

3. Ruins - A friend of mine who is obsessed with Henry Cow really enjoys this song. Starts with a very dark atmospheric mood with occasional strikes on the piano and sax going back and forth. There's a moment during this where you think the song is going to get really hectic and zany, but then transitions quite well into the next section (although zaniness does come in a bit later). This song really features some crazy soloing, and there's definitely noodling, but I feel that the band managed to keep it tighter and more controlled on this song in comparison to the last one, making it much more enjoyable. Some interesting xylophone in there as well. This is certainly a song where the band pulled out all the stops, and it shows. I wish more of the songs on the album had been like this. 10/10 4. Solemn Music - More of a transitional song really. Some horned/brass instrument of some type dishing out a few notes with piano in the background. A good transition, but not really anything noteworthy. 6/10

5. Linguaphonie - This song starts off even darker than Ruins in my opinion and has some distorted vocals at near the beginning as well. Almost make me think of that creepy sound in old horror/mystery movies, so definitely nostalgic. Unfortunately, like the second track, I feel like this is just a lot of noodling and doesn't really move past the original sound presented in the beginning. Slightly better though. 6/10

6. Upon Entering the Hotel Adlon - Once again, something very interesting. The drumming on this song is odd, but in a very hypnotic way. It's hard to describe unless you hear it yourself. Some of the strange sounds around the middle also have a similar feel to them. Quite an enjoyable track and one that must be heard to be believed. Getting used to it might take some listeners several tries, as it did for me. 8/10

7. Arcades - Another short transitional song, however the atmosphere on this one is much better than on the last one. You can actually hear the instruments clearly and loudly. Great for building suspense, but another case of how I sometimes wish Henry Cow could extend songs like this. They have great room for development, but it seems to get cut off sometimes. 7/10

8. Deluge - This song makes me think back to a jazz class era 1930s. Obvious jazz influences are present on this song, especially on the drums. An enjoyable last track, but once again it suffers from some of the same problems that I feel exist on other tracks on this album. The song always feels like it's going to keep building, but then you realize that the musicians are just using it for noodling. Good noodling, but not really my kind of thing unless you show that it's going somewhere. 7/10

This album is actually enjoyable for me from time to time, however if you've never heard Henry Cow, I'd recommend starting with one of their other three albums, most notably Western Culture. If you like the other three enough then go ahead and get this one too. It has its enjoyable moments and unfortunately a few dull ones in it as well. This is an album that will take multiple listens for you to understand it and see how much you like it (or don't). If it wasn't for so much rambling noodling work, this would easily be a 4 star album, but since some of the music on here doesn't serve much of a purpose to me, I'll have to give it 3 stars. A good album if you enjoy the rest of Henry Cow's work, but the last one you should explore and unless you like noodling work, you probably won't enjoy this album too much.

horsewithteeth11 | 3/5 |


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