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ART BEARS

RIO/Avant-Prog • United Kingdom


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Art Bears picture
Art Bears biography
ART BEARS are a branch of Henry COW and include vocalist extraordinaire Dagmar KRAUSE, Chris CUTLER on percussion, and Fred FRITH on guitar/ violin/keyboards/ etc. They were longtime members of the seminal English radical political avant-garde art rock band Henry COW. Their music is very high level progressive/experimental rock, with shades of ambient and electronic thrown in. Like much RIO-influenced music, it's not so much prog, as experimental, "rehearsal intensive" rock.

Their three albums are all equal in quality and are only recommended to those who like UNIVERS ZERO, Henry COW, or MAGMA etc. Try "Winter Songs" or "The World as it is Today" (they come together on CD from Wayside) then get "Hopes and Fears" if you like them. "Hopes and Fears" is one of the most melodic RIO releases and sounds somewhat more COW-like the other albums. Adventurous listeners would do well to find all of ART BEARS' releases.

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ART BEARS discography


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ART BEARS top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.79 | 103 ratings
Hopes and Fears
1978
4.01 | 109 ratings
Winter Songs
1979
3.97 | 85 ratings
The World As It Is Today
1980

ART BEARS Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

ART BEARS Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

ART BEARS Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.47 | 17 ratings
25 Songs (Winter Songs-The World As It Is Today)
1987
3.30 | 10 ratings
Revisited
2003
4.81 | 12 ratings
The Art Box
2005

ART BEARS Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.67 | 3 ratings
Rats & Monkeys
1979

ART BEARS Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Hopes and Fears by ART BEARS album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.79 | 103 ratings

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Hopes and Fears
Art Bears RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Review Nš 547

At the turn of the 60's, two English students of Cambridge, Fred Frith and Tim Hodgkinson formed the core of Henry Cow, a band who over the course of ten years pretty much bucked every stale tradition of rock, creating their own way, a Baroque inflected free jazz soaked cacophony which they refined to a method dubbed Rock In Opposition (RIO), by way of several communal traipses across Europa. The general idea was to create an independent network of like minded performers that would not be dependent on the largesse of the major record companies for their own survival.

So, in the 70's, the collaborative spirit seemed to have swept through the British progressive art rock scene. Countless performers commingled on each other's albums and, in a variety of configurations, they explored similar sonic territory. This spirit of creative collaboration was most highly concentrated around the virtually unclassifiable music of one of the most iconic bands, Henry Cow. Serving as the nexus of a wildly experimental scene and seeing a virtual who's who of the avant-garde wing of the British art rock, Henry Cow's influence and ideals spread quickly during the decade in which they existed, each member popping up here and there on other artists' albums before striking out on their own.

During the ten years of existence, 1968-78, Henry Cow released four studio albums. During the recording of their final album "Western Culture", the band split down the middle, with Hodgkinson wanting to continue down the increasingly oblique path their music had been careening down, and Frith wanting to perform more "song-oriented" fare. In a fashion unusually amicable and diplomatic, Frith split off with the percussionist Chris Cutler, to finish recording the material they had prepared for "Western Culture" but which didn't make part of the final version. Cutler wrote lyrics, and their recently bandless acquaintance Dagmar Krause, who already worked with them, stepped up to work with both.

So, the drummer Chris Cutler and the guitarist Fred Frith were core members of Henry Cow, who had collaborated with German singer Dagmar Krause's band, Slapp Happy, on a pair of albums in the mid of the 70's. Krause brought a highly distinctive vocal presence to the band, one both wildly idiosyncratic, witness her various shrieks, growls and unclassifiable utterances throughout the Art Bears catalog, and schooled in traditional European art songs, particularly those of Kurt Weill and Bertold Brecht. With her voice and phrasing, she managed to single handedly unify lengthy works that might have otherwise lapsed into typically arch, classically structured Henry Cow pieces. When Krause joined the band on a permanent basis, it was natural that they should gravitate towards something more like "songs".

The musicians who would become Art Bears began recording their first album, "Hopes And Fears", before the band even formally existed. In 1978, Cutler, Frith, Krause, Georgie Born, Lindsay Cooper and Tim Hodgkinson went to Switzerland with the intent to cut the fifth Henry Cow album at Etienne Conod's Sunrise Studio. However, when it became apparent that Cutler's shorter songs, along with Krause's vocals, weren't going to result in anything resembling a Henry Cow album, Cutler, Frith and Krause decided to rename themselves Art Bears, and with the others, agreed to record different, instrumental pieces for what would become Henry Cow's final album, "Western Culture".

The duo wrote 13 succinct, arguably more tuneful songs all based loosely on carvings which adorn the walls of the Amiens cathedral in France. This is really a very dense, challenging and tough album to crack. It's supposed to be. But with repeated listenings, its brilliance will begin to take shape, an angular swan which slowly carves itself out of the ice of initial distaste. Brilliance and genius, all too apparent in Frith's shapeshifting guitars and stark arrangements and the panoply of diverse percurssions and noises of Cutler and his oblique, preternatural lyrics, delivered supernaturally by the voice of Dagmar Krause. It's the confounding voice of crestfallen strength, desperate and seemingly tuneless, yet never missing a note. It's stark in the greatest German tradition, but unlike much less talented and yet far more namedropped "anti-singers" like Nico, this is a voice strained and cold via too much emotion, rather than devoid of it.

Conclusion: The music on "Hopes And Fears" is strange, dark and aggressive. Sometimes reminds me of something close to Van Der Graaf Generator, but even more experimental. Firth's guitar sounds are twisted and unpredictable, and Cutler's drumming focuses on a more simplistic, but at the same time forceful side, rather than his disorienting, polyrhythmic playing in Henry Cow. On "Hopes And Fears" there are mostly regular length songs, with Krause's falsetto vocals at the center. I must admit that I'm not a huge fan of her singing, although she is a nice addition to the music on the album. The music of Art Bears sounds almost as ahead of the curve today as it did so many years ago. The sophistication and beauty of their music is far above of most other song based bands of the last few decades. Art Bears was at the pinnacle of the European songwriting. Unfortunately, they aren't simply understood by most people.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 Hopes and Fears by ART BEARS album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.79 | 103 ratings

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Hopes and Fears
Art Bears RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by DangHeck

4 stars Dark, Brooding Minimalism Wages War with Joyful and Optimistic Glee

So excited to be here today! Long time coming, this'n! Art Bears is an offshoot project of three members of Avant-Rock masters Henry Cow: Fred Frith, Chris Cutler and Dagmar Krause (she also of Slapp Happy). Members from these two former bands are also featured throughout in the form of Tim Hodgkinson, Lindsay Cooper, George Born (a name I was frankly unfamiliar with) and (on other editions with bonus tracks) Peter Blegvad.

Our albums starts off in melancholy on the brief "On Suicide". Very dark, sort of classical in nature (no surprise there). It was composed by German film duo Brecht and Eisler. Starkly positioned next is "The Dividing Line", beginning with noise and clangs and a bizarro, deeply effected organ. The vocals are angular, yet not harsh. This is a rather minimal song ultimately. It's here that I take pause to remember this was released in 1978. Much like the relation that Greaves' Kew. Rhone. had for me to that year before. Up next is something more identifiably them and... more exciting really! "Joan"! The organ and the horns are in a cacophony with the drums and Dagmar's relatively sweet vocals (sweet in comparison haha). Very intense.

What follows is... quiet, but with darting reverberating Cutler-isms on "Maze". I quite like this. I can't not compare it to Frank Zappa. Angular, strange, weirdly haunting. The digital version of this track I have unusually cuts short of its full length... Too bad. Regardless. Through and through the whole of the track, though, I really can't help but think of the darkest and weirdest from, say, Uncle Meat. Very cool. Not much happens, in comparison, on the front-end of "In Two Minds". Dagmar sings over strums of acoustic guitar. Nearing halfway, all picks up with fun drums. It's like deranged Pete Townsend in my mind hahaha! Even so, acoustic guitar is the driving force. I'll always take Fred Frith in whatever mode he'll give. Things fall back down and then return to the aforementioned full-band triumph after minute 6. I think this is a song that will require patience from some. It's really quite rewarding in its overall minimalism.

In an unexpected way, what I would like to call these Uncle Meat-isms continue on the very fun, upbeat "Terrain". This is the absolute highlight thus far. Horns and strings intersect with the really lovely guitar soloing from Frith. This is followed by further minimalisms, but also just really interesting noise on "The Tube". Definitely some cool soundscape type stuff here. The past is back in more strange forms in "The Dance". And I'll take a moment to pause and sing the praises of the great Lindsay Cooper, here on bassoon (of course?). Dagmar is also using her higher vocal register here, and I love that. The middle section features some pastoral fiddling from Fred, too! Just an interesting mix of everything. Up next is the also brief "Pirate Song" with a great vocal performance over acoustic piano. Different kind of loveliness compared to the track before.

Continuing right along, we have "Labyrinth" with really unique percussion elements. I can't tell if they're electric or just... really far away haha. Either way, sounds just awesome. Another track though, percussion aside, that is ultimately super minimal and singularly focused. Synth has returned on "Riddle", featuring an eerie drone and just awesomely weird key-sh*t haha. This track is about as alien as something you might expect from Magma. Tribal and intense. Even so, can't say I've heard much quite like it before. So much to be satisfied by here. Then it's onto something that indeed is (though inexplicably) familiar! "Moeris Dancing" bounces along in joy and yet simultaneous intensity. I may take a stab at it and say this is something Eastern, generally speaking. I love the handclaps and the violin here. And then the guitar melody around minute 2... which is just plain epic! Awesome thematic music! Another surefire highlight if there ever was one. And then finally we have our closer, "Piers". This song starts with an ambient drone. This then continues throughout the whole track. Truly haunting. Helluva way to close it all out.

 Hopes and Fears by ART BEARS album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.79 | 103 ratings

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Hopes and Fears
Art Bears RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars Both Henry Cow and Slapp Happy were instrumental in generating some of the most avant-rock and -pop of the early 70s so it wasn't too shocking when the two bands merged to collaborate on the final Henry Cow album "In Praise of Learning" in 1975. While Henry Cow would reemerge one more time in 1979 to settle unfinished business with the best album of their career in the form of "Western Culture," Slapp Happy on the other hand decided to call it a day but the cross-pollination of the two bands never ceased to be. In between the reunion of Henry Cow and the collaborative efforts with Slapp Happy, a new group emerged to pick up the avant- slack of where Henry Cow left off.

This new band was called ART BEARS and the debut album HOPE AND FEARS was supposed to be the fourth Henry Cow album but morphed into this new project because that's what avant-garde artists do! ART BEARS was basically the continuation of the Henry Cow Rock In Opposition movement by three members: Chris Cutler (percussion, texts), Fred Frith (guitars, bass, violin, keyboards) and Dagmar Krause (vocals), however also joining this Henry Cow album by another name on select tracks were former members Tim Hodgkinson (organ, clarinet, piano), Lindsay Cooper (bassoon, oboe, soprano, recorder) and Georgie Born (bass, cello and vocals). This insinuates that all was amicable in the Henry Cow universe and in effect ART BEARS was constructed as an outside project in order for the members to contemplate their next moves.

Despite being considered the lost Henry Cow album with Slapp Happy's Dagmar Krause sticking around on vocals, ART BEARS is a different beast although existing in the extended Henry Cow family. Viewed with clearer vision, ART BEARS actually picks up where "In Praise of Learning" left off but more perfectly stewed into a musical gumbo that keeps the avant-prog aspects of Henry Cow completely in the inaccessosphere while incorporating the more accessible aspects of the avant-pop of the vocal led charm of Slapp Happy, therefore the accusations that this actually was a Henry Cow album in disguise rings quite true and what better way to integrate two completely different philosophies into one than by a name change? Well, nomenclature nitpicking aside, HOPES AND FEARS pretty much does indeed carry on the Henry Cow missed album approach in perfect form.

Perhaps what ART BEARS achieved more than the Henry Cow predecessors is that the album sounds extremely focused. While the political lyrics are fruitfully abundant, the music is simultaneously very escapist without being alienating NOT that it's a bad thing but ART BEARS created a slightly less abrasive and more accessible style of avant-prog which would only be perfect upon by the future News From Babel. Added to the interesting mix of Henry Cow and Slapp Happy is a forward look into new possibilities with the stringent underpinnings of the newly fashionable post-punk sounds. The most evident of tracks existing on "The Tube" but clearly ART BEARS had their fingers on the pulse of the new punk rock movement and how it was quickly splintering into different strains of avant-art rock.

Tracks like "The Dance" clearly demonstrate as Celtic folk dances emerge that ART BEARS were clever masters of disguise. They could take more conventional musical forms and twist them into their own avant-garde illusory presentations, a talent reserved for only the cleverest of sonic linguists but a clear attribute of Henry Cow transmogrified into this new extension of its visions. Overall ART BEARS dished out a veritable upgrade of the Slapp Happy / Henry Cow collaboration and did it in a uniform presentation. The whole thing sort of comes of as an alternative dimension version of vocal jazz of the 1940s so it has the ability to connect to the familiar while bedazzling the listener with the absurdly unfamiliar. ART BEARS' debut HOPES AND FEARS is a real gem in the late 70s avant-prog world as not only did it prove as progressive rock was declining in popularity that experimental progressive music was in no danger of dying out but that it was evolving into ever weirder realities.

 Hopes and Fears by ART BEARS album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.79 | 103 ratings

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Hopes and Fears
Art Bears RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by ALotOfBottle
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Despite being labeled as an Art Bears album, Hopes and Fears was recorded mostly by Henry Cow. While working on what would turn out to be their swansong, Western Culture, the group witnessed a disagreement between its members. Lindsay Cooper, Georgie Born, and Tim Hodgkinson expressed that shorter vocal pieces are not representative of the band. The opposing fraction, consisting of Dagmar Krause, Fred Frith, and Chris Cutler, rented a studio with their own money, in which they recorded four tracks under the ambiguous signature of Art Bears. As a result, instrumental pieces recorded by Henry Cow, appeared on their album Western Culture, while the vocal material made it to Hopes and Fears.

Whilst Henry Cow's style is largely improvisation-based, the songs on Art Bears' debut album are far more organized and naturally shorter. The trio seeks inspiration from ancient works, in fact the release derives its title from a dialogue in Charion Sees Life, a satirical sketch by a Roman rhetorician and satirist Lucian of Samosata. Furthermore, the omnipresent eccentricity, reminiscent of Greek opera, plays an important role in the album's distinctive sound. Jazz methods are almost fully absent from Art Bears' style. Instead, the band focuses on the more song-oriented approach, which makes it easier for them to deliver their message. Neo-classical chamber music of Stravinsky, Hindemith, and Schoenberg has become a crucial element of Bears' music. A careful listener will detect influences of Eastern European folk traditions. Similarly to Henry Cow's works, Hopes And Fears is dripping with complex and intricate arrangements. Eclectic ideas, rich and elaborate musical layers, experimental musicianship, politically-charged lyrics, odd time signatures - the basic Cow ingredients are all there. And yet, the album sounds different than anything Henry Cow have produced. One might point out that comparison with Henry Cow's works is aimless, as the album was composed and recorded by the group's members. Let's not forget, however, that it was because of Frith's and Cutler's new concepts that the material from the Western Culture sessions was released on two separate albums.

Hopes and Fears opens with a cover of "On Suicide", a piece originally written by a neo-classical composer Hans Eisler, with Chris Cutler's lyrics. "The Dividing Line" starts out with an unsettling and sinister passage on Tim Hodgkinson's Farfisa organ. The track's initial mood remains present until the next song. "In Two Minds" begins with a catchy feminine folk motif, which dissolves into a more pop-sounding theme, which suggests the influence of The Who. In fact, Chris Cutler once remarked the impact that the band had on him and his contemporaries. "The Dance" owes a great deal to Eastern European folk traditions, with the interplay of Georgie Born's cello, Fred Frith's violin, and Lindsay Cooper's bassoon. "Riddle" revisits the familiar ominous passage, that first appeared on "The Dividing Line", with a similar feel that is again dark and disturbing. The album closes with "Piers", which has a menacing, and an almost ambient quality.

Art Bears' innovative, thought-provoking, and groundbreaking debut album marks a beginning of a new era for Rock In Opposition - post-Henry Cow, dark, sophisticated, and highly influenced by chamber music. Hopes and Fears is a difficult work of art that takes many listens to fully understand and comprehend. Complex, dark, demanding, fresh - these are just a few adjectives which perfectly describe the album. Recommended!

 The World As It Is Today by ART BEARS album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.97 | 85 ratings

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The World As It Is Today
Art Bears RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Thai Divone

5 stars It's not easy reviewing one of one's favorite albums, and disagreeing with at least 50% of the lyrics doesn't make it any easier. But? I can try to review, to explain, to express, why I think that this album is such a masterpiece. Saying that the lyrics are top-notch, that the music complements them perfectly, that all members give here their best effort to date (and that says a lot when considering who the people we're talking about here truly are), doesn't give us much. Saying that the music here changed the RIO and avant-garde worlds of music, and even shaped the less experimental ones doesn't give much either. One has to listen, truly listen, and to read, truly read, in order to fully appreciate this short album. All I can hope to achieve, all I can strive for, is to give you a taste.

We open with The Song of Investment Capital Oversees, a ferocious attack against one of the leading habits of the globalized world- "investing" in poorer countries. And while this capital investment is done from great ideals, it lacs the understanding to prevent the damages it creates. This is what Krause sings in here, with one of the easier songs in the album. "The roads and rails/ Ran like cracks and/ Carry me/ Upon their backs". Two times she sings this two stanzas song, growing more sinister and cynic with each line. The music is industrial yet melodic, a combination of old and new, trying to keep the known and loved but failing to do so. She then sings only some of the lines, again and again, stressing the damages.

Then comes Truth, which is a song about the lies we tell ourselves in order to continue living in this strange world. After 2 sinister verses, she sings ""Then I got reading/ And I learned/ PROSPERITY/ Had come-/ And this was/ EDEN". A strange and quite sick guitar solo follows, a bit repetitive, letting the worlds transcend, expressing what words cannot.

Freedom is pure avant-garde, with a French "Musique Concrete" vibe to it. "Free to starve, or to/ Slave; free to choose/ A or B, as we offered,/ To labor or die." After the lyrics end, we are presented with a screaming solo, utilizing all of Krause's abilities, with an even colder guitar solo. Cutler on the drums somehow manages to sound like a cold machine and yet emotional and humane.

(Armed) Peace is even more avant-garde if that is even possible, yet remains melodic enough to express what it has to say. "The lamp of life/ Blew out, Peace/ Sheathed his sword/ Calm fell".

Then we get to Civilization, which is a twisted and lonely song, about the lack of one. Krause joins at around 1:30, Cutler is almost non-present. "The boatman shipped his oars/ -his tiny lantern glimmered,/ I could see no more?"

Democracy is a strange little beast that one has to listen too for oneself. It somehow manages to express in 2 minutes what most political theorists with this goal need courses and books to explain. It's dark, it's cold, it's malicious, and it's a masochistic trip to our ears. Cutler is no less than amazing on his drums, successfully holding the song in shape while refusing to keep to a constant rhythm, or to any rhythm at all for that matter.

The Song of the Martyrs is a cry from the revolutionaries, those who fought for those ideals, those who were martyred for those ideals, a cry from them about how bad their dream came to be. "All our lives, all of us/ Whose bones you have/ Climbed on/ -Were all our lives wasted?" it's melancholic for most of the time, like a crying from heaven, then an attack aimed at us 'damn criminals' if I might describe it in less polite words.

Law is short and precise, happy to the humorous extreme, sounding like a sick party from earlier days, cynic with a purpose. Then comes the attack on Capitalism, aimed as a satire from the monopolists' point of view. "Keep calm!/ The small ones will go down,/ The air will clear/ The strong will sweep/ The weak ones up." Krause sings pompously, full of herself, with the melodies behind her serving like choir of backing vocals.

The Song of the Dignity of Labor Under Capital is a cry for help, for showing feelings, for being humane, for treating one's workers like human beings. "And I cried and I cried/ And my hands went on/ Working/ And the work/ Hurried by." Towards the end the song becomes stranger and more chaotic, like building towards something, building towards?

Albion Awake, which is a cry for a new socialist revolution. All is leading to here, for this we were working, and the time has come, the time is right. It's one of the most avant-garde pieces in this already hard one, being Musique Concrete taken to its rightful extreme. "Awake! Awake!/ Let banners fly like/ Shrapnel, and efface/ The Sky".

And with that the album ends. So, how should I rate it? For me, even though I don't agree with the lyrics, even though for most people the music will be too experimental, even though it's not always possible to say that it even resembles or has connections to "normal" Prog, this is one of the rare instances in which a 5 star rating is not enough. Essential is not powerful enough a word to describe it.

 Winter Songs by ART BEARS album cover Studio Album, 1979
4.01 | 109 ratings

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Winter Songs
Art Bears RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by justaguy

5 stars Art Bears was founded by RIO geniuses Chris Cutler and Fred Frith, after disbanding of the legendary Henry Cow. Dagmar Krause came along with them, after participating in one of the best (because of her presence, if you ask me) Henry Cow album Western Culture. Art Bears consistsed of only 3 people, but how much much music they make! Winter Song is dense, dark, pastoral and of course, with Cutler writing lyrics, political, however the theme is very medieval. Which I donīt mind personally, as the music is so origina and different from anything you ever heard, and at the same time so beautifully composed and arranged. Every member of this trio is at the highest peak of his or her talent. Cutlerīs percussion work is unforgettable, Frith is outdoing himself as a composer and playing on many instruments, most prominent organ, guitars and violin. And Krause is nothing less but another genius. Her voice is so special and her use of this unearthly instrument is so original, quite dark but beautiful at the same time! It's a shame I have only 5 stars to give :-)
 The World As It Is Today by ART BEARS album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.97 | 85 ratings

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The World As It Is Today
Art Bears RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars The trick of presenting hyper-challenging music which eschews all conventional format but still successfully conveys a message, which had somewhat eluded Henry Cow on In Praise of Learning, is perfect by Art Bears on The World As It Is Today. This would be the final release from the Bears before another personnel reconfiguration would yield the mighty, magnificent News From Babel - and like all good Final Fantasy bosses, the final form of Henry Cow would prove to be unstoppable. However, despite the strong heritage of the Art Bears (both their previous albums and Henry Cow) and the excellent work that would follow, The World As It Is Today more than stands its own as a piece of the puzzle.
 Winter Songs by ART BEARS album cover Studio Album, 1979
4.01 | 109 ratings

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Winter Songs
Art Bears RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars The first Art Bears album produced by Frith, Cutler and Krause on their own (they had the help of the rest of Henry Cow on the debut album), Winter Songs offers exactly what it says on the tin: a set of song-oriented compositions with a brittle, cold atmosphere enhanced by some intriguing tape experiments. The sound here is naturally more sparse than the debut, due to the stripped-down lineup, but here and there you can hear the seeds which would eventually grow into the excellent News From Babel debut album. An acquired taste, but I actually think it stands up better to repeated listens than some of Henry Cow's lesser works.
 Hopes and Fears by ART BEARS album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.79 | 103 ratings

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Hopes and Fears
Art Bears RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by 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.

 Hopes and Fears by ART BEARS album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.79 | 103 ratings

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Hopes and Fears
Art Bears RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by admireArt
Prog Reviewer

3 stars What can I say about this record? The setting is perfect; the intention is clear (or in this case obscure); the whereabouts are well known; the where? is the mystery. I had to suffer like hell to overcome the horrible "arty" voice of Dagmar Krauze to enjoy the astounding environment this guys had painted. One perfect case of first image association with later criteria. The voice-less/music; as the art-cover is austere, dimmly lit promising all kinds of thrills that in time will be delivered. So;. it is hard to review an astounding musical effort when one of its elements is organically rejected by my own body and the other half not... ( That is one of the main reasons I turned towards electronic-prog; they rarely sing over there; less have Main Vocalist!) Art Bears: "Hopes and Fears" is the perfect 4 Star album for people who are not pissed off with this kind of impossing type of singing; and also like early obscure post-Henry Cow; Frith. Hodgson or Cutler efforts. I wish I was one! But I canīt!....If you have a karaoke player 3.5; if you are like me; 3... towards; "how would it have sounded in an only instrumental environment?..... Great!; I, suppose. Not being the case... 3 bottom stars.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to easy livin for the last updates

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