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Henry Cow - In Praise Of Learning CD (album) cover


Henry Cow



3.96 | 173 ratings

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5 stars Henry Cow - In Praise of Learning (1975)

Among us are those listeners who want an adventure with a bite. They indure the layers of sophistication, the psychedelic effects and sheer heavyness of the music. They have often found VdGG's 'Pawn Hearts', a few King Crimson classics and perhaps had some experience with Magma. As a great next step I would like to recommend giving this specific Henry Cow record a couple of spins, for it is a great avant-prog record that will satisfy listeners of the beforementioned bands.

Henry Cow is known as one of the bigger English avant-garde groups. All musicians involved (and especially Fred Frith on guitar, Tim Hodgkinson on organ and Chris Cutler of drums) are of the highest level, making the music as professional and well performed as the best of Magma line-ups - an almost unmatchable level of musicianship. On this third record the band cooperated with female vocalist Dagmar Krause, who in style shows some resemblance to Peter Hammill when it comes to pronounciation and intensity. The political anti-war lyrics are written in poetic English and fit the developed atmosphere of the music.

The album opens with the short acid track 'War' with hellish vocals by Krause and Canterbury-like vocals of Glegvad. However, on the first side the centerpeace, the fifteen minuted avant-prog epic 'Living in the heart of the beast' steals the show. On side two a shorter but equally impressive doomish avant-prog track 'Beautiful as the moon, terrible as an army with banners' is accompanied by two avant-garde compositions that might initially put of some progressive rock listeners.

'Living in the heart of the beast'. What if Peter Hammill's evil twin sister was to line up with Lizard-era Robert Fripp, backed-up by Christian Vander's bombastic and doomish artistic vision in a recording studio in the center of Canterbury? Add some layers of avant-garde exploration and you might have an idea why this piece is such an highlight of the progressive genre. Heavy, sometimes atonal, brooming, exploding, dark and profetic in lyrical style. I would like to add some words of admiration for the brilliant ending section that reminds me a bit of the kick I can get out of Mahavishnu's 'Hope'.

Conclusion. This record falls between the border of eclectic progressive rock and avant- garde, yet serves best of both genres. A great daring record that should not be skipped by listeners of eclectic prog, Canterbury, zeuhl and avant-garde/rio. Five stars.

friso | 5/5 |


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