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Art Bears - Hopes and Fears CD (album) cover


Art Bears



3.73 | 82 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
3 stars 3,5 stars really!!!

Sonically speaking, you couldn't really tell if you're a Henry Cow album or on an Art Bears record. Especially given that behind Fred, Chris and Dagmar, are invited Lindsay, Tim, Georgie, Peter and Marc Hollander (Aksak). Hey!! 8O They forgot to invite Geoff Leigh. Behind the superb artwork (changed a bit from the original vinyl) and splendid ReR label booklet, Hope And Fear is definitely HC's heir, although slightly stripped down (Frith is the main composer here), as the other half of HC is only here as guests, even if they appear on most tracks, including the three bonus tracks from the ReR Cd reissue. Actually part of the tracks of this album were recorded under the Henry Cow banner. As for the rest of them, I will cite Chris Cutler: "These pieces were recorded track by track, starting with a click and the essential bass or chord parts and then adding vocals and filling in the other parts - using the studio itself as a generative medium. In general, drums were added last. This was to be the method we adopted for all future Art Bears projects". Considering most bands starts with drums, you might understand how weird or odd Art Bears may sound.

As said above the songwriting is handled mainly by Frith, and Cutler's lyrics, there is a real continuity between IPOL (rather than WC, even if WC came from the same sessions) and H&F, even if Dagmar's crazed vocals are toned down (all things remaining relative, because she remains an acquired taste), but Frith's guitar is getting wider spaces than previously as indicated by the Fripp-ian lines Terrain that followed the unusually accessible (and incredibly wild "rock") In Two Minds, these two forming a first highlight into the album. Frith's guitars are also able to be gloomy as heck in The Tube. However if you want to know how HC handles a jig, please feel free to listen to The Dance. While keeping on track with its own direction, the rest of the album slowly veers towards Piers, which is arranged in such a way that it announces what's coming up in Winter Songs. But this album could be called a lost HC album somewhere between In Praise and Western Culture, it you didn't know better.

The bonus tracks are actually adding value to an already good album and fit moderately well with H&F, especially the closing Coda piece where Blegvad and Hollander come in to add their lunacy). But first we must deal with the astounding madness of All Hail and the beat-heavy Collapse where Dagmar double tracks and dubs herself. Amazing sounds. But the real "gift" is the lengthy Coda To Man And Bo, where the tension on frith's guitar strings is so unbearable that the guitar is starting to jerk tears uncontrollable and soon enough its crying out loud over a divine three note piano and semi-thunder bass crashes (courtesy of Peter and Marc). Astounding sounds. With the addition of these bonus tracks, I can't help but give this album its fourth star, even if it Art Bear's least resembling album, in part due to the presence of almost all of Henry Cow's personel.

Sean Trane | 3/5 |


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