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Art Bears - Hopes and Fears CD (album) cover

HOPES AND FEARS

Art Bears

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

3.76 | 57 ratings

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Warthur
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Just as Henry Cow's In Praise of Learning is part of a symbiotic pair with the more Slapp Happy-focused Desperate Straights, so too is the first Art Bears album a symbiote with Henry Cow's Western Culture.

Specifically, during the recording sessions for a followup to In Praise of Learning, it was clear that the band members no longer saw eye to eye, with some wanting to refine their complex instrumental work whilst others wanted to apply their avant-garde techniques to song-oriented material. The instrumentals were tinkered with further and eventually emerged as Western Culture; the songs were bequeathed to the Art Bears as a sort of inheritance and came out as Hopes and Fears.

For my part, whilst I consider Western Culture to be the pinnacle of Henry Cow's accomplishments, I think Hopes and Fears is equally good, so I'm glad the band decided to develop in both directions even if it led to the disintegration of the Cow as a single unit. Opening with a little Brecht (On Suicide), the Bears reveal themselves to have excellent instincts when it comes to refining the abrasive avant-garde ideas developed by Henry Cow into the basis for songs, and there's more melody here too.

I feel that Henry Cow often spent too much time being weird for weird's sake, often going so far as to deliberately shun anything melodic or attractive or approachable as compromising their vision (this tendency seemed to reach its peak on In Praise of Learning), whereas the Art Bears see no reason to limit the tools available to them, taking the best of the avant-garde and the mainstream alike. Ultimately, this results in pieces which are at once more accessible than Henry Cow's work yet, at the same time, also manage to be just as revolutionary in their own way.

Warthur | 4/5 |

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