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ART BEARS

RIO/Avant-Prog • United Kingdom


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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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Hope And Fears (180 Gram Vinyl Limited Edition)Hope And Fears (180 Gram Vinyl Limited Edition)
Limited Edition
RER Music 2010
Vinyl$17.58
Winter Songs / The World As It Is TodayWinter Songs / The World As It Is Today
ReR
Audio CD$77.07
$20.99 (used)
For tomorrow / Vinyl Maxi Single [Vinyl 12'']For tomorrow / Vinyl Maxi Single [Vinyl 12'']
RE
Vinyl$10.64 (used)
Hopes & FearsHopes & Fears
Import
Imports 2015
Audio CD$50.99
Hopes & FearsHopes & Fears
Import
Imports 2015
Audio CD$51.99
Hopes and fearsHopes and fears
Audio CD$35.48
$24.02 (used)
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LP hope and fears
ART BEARS
~ USD $18.41


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ART BEARS discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

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

3.72 | 63 ratings
Hopes and Fears
1978
3.87 | 71 ratings
Winter Songs
1979
3.96 | 50 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)

3.32 | 9 ratings
25 Songs (Winter Songs-The World As It Is Today)
1987
3.20 | 5 ratings
Revisited
2003
4.14 | 12 ratings
The Art Box
2005

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

ART BEARS Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The World As It Is Today by ART BEARS album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.96 | 50 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.

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 The World As It Is Today by ART BEARS album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.96 | 50 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.

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 Winter Songs by ART BEARS album cover Studio Album, 1979
3.87 | 71 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.

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 Hopes and Fears by ART BEARS album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.72 | 63 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.

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 Hopes and Fears by ART BEARS album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.72 | 63 ratings

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Hopes and Fears
Art Bears RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by admireArt
Collaborator PSIKE Team

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 can´t!....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.

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 Winter Songs by ART BEARS album cover Studio Album, 1979
3.87 | 71 ratings

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Winter Songs
Art Bears RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by GruvanDahlman
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Actually, I find this album hard to rate. Given the fact that there are obvious talents and visions behind the madness, I still find ot hard to digest. At least that is true to a certain extent. While the music IS challenging, it is also strangely accessible in it's inaccessibility.

After listening to it several times I do see a pattern. Somewhere. A lot of the songs on the album are quite literary insane. Not to an extent where the melody is totally absent but rather hard to follow. On top of it all are the strange noises from electronic gadegets, as it would seem.

For me, personally, there are two tracks in particular standing out. The first one is "The hermit" which seems almost like a folk song and the second being "The skeleton". The latter is eerie and haunting while the first is very beautiful. "Haunting" is actually a word fit to describe most of the music on here. It seems to me that the lasting impression of "Winter songs" is a record of horror-like soundscapes, given verbal wings by a mad woman. (All meant in the most affectionate and loving way.)

In conclusion I could say that this kind of prog is not my cup of tea, still I find it intriguing and not all that distant to my usual taste. I could well, and will do, return quite often to the Art Bears and find reward in their music. It is weird but endearing and brave. Original and daring. Maybe that is really what prog is all about?

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 Winter Songs by ART BEARS album cover Studio Album, 1979
3.87 | 71 ratings

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Winter Songs
Art Bears RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Heyfordian

1 stars What a nightmare! I fail to acknowledge that the noise and wailing produced by Art Bears has anything to do with music! And undeservedly high rating for this album may be very misleading to the unprepared listener, such as myself. Based on what I heard about them I expected it to be weird, but not as unlistenable as it turned out to be... I wonder how other people manage to find any value in this, you cannot all pretend that this is really a masterpiece.

Unfortunately the lowest I can put is one star, so here it is, but really it is 0/5 You've been warned!

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 Hopes and Fears by ART BEARS album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.72 | 63 ratings

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Hopes and Fears
Art Bears RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by 1791 Overture

4 stars I didn't always think highly of this album, but time has caused it to grow on me. The various phases of this extended lineup - from Henry Cow to Slapp Happy/Henry Cow to Art Bears to News from Babel to...is in large part one of continual progress. Henry Cow was a great band, but that incarnation was only the beginning. The songwriting here is more mature, less "scatter-brained" than your typical Henry Cow affair (minus Western Culture, which was written around the same time) - all of the diverse elements of jazz, folk, rock, and chamber music are still present, but they are employed towards writing interesting music, where Henry Cow would sometimes lose itself in a jumble of brief, interchangeable jam sessions that were complex but ultimately uninteresting.

This record is rather uninviting to initial listening for several reasons. The first is the RIO love of atonality and dissonance; the second is the sparse instrumentation, compared with the busy approach of traditional progressive rock and previous efforts by the band; the third is the fact that the instruments were recorded in the studio at separate times and before the songs themselves were completed, so the pieces were composed without an initial cohesion between all of the members. Nevertheless, not all music has to be warm and fuzzy, and if you penetrate the austere veneer, there are a couple songs that are strikingly emotional (On Suicide and Piers being my favorites).

The record is not without flaws. There is one track in particular, In Two Minds, that I see as an utter failure. Everything is bad about it - it drags, its melodies are overwrought and pretentious, its lyrics are laughable (and you thought LIving in the Heart of the Beast was stupid...). It tries to pick things up with a Who-sounding piano bridge, but Dagmar's voice is just not suited to what is going on at all - her acrobatics come off as desperate, and she can't hold the song together. Some fine instrumental work near the end does come close to salvaging it. This is the album's only real low point - other flaws in the record are rather minor (such as the lyrics to "Joan," which sound like something off the worst 80's metal cheese - yuck).

Other than those minor pitfalls, this is for the most part great stuff. It's still not as good as News from Babel, nor the Cutler/Krause/Glandien collaboration, Domestic Stories, but it's certainly a league above the early RIO of the 70's.

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 The World As It Is Today by ART BEARS album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.96 | 50 ratings

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

Review by yosimoshe

4 stars This album is one of the toughest albums to review. The words are well written, although most of the people will disagree with them in some way. The composition isn't for every one, and not always melodic. From the start of the album till its end, it's not hard to understand what they are trying to say, and the music helps with passing the message to us. From the tracks, a picture of a corrupted world is what we see, and the lyrics uses metaphors that are identified with England to show that a change is needed. All the tracks stand out, different from each other, and as relevant today as they were back at the 1980s if not more. But if I have to point some, they will surely be those: Truth shows cynicism at its best, with stoppages at words like truth, and Eden. The song of the martyrs shows great pain, and the last track is anything but melodic. Overall, this is not an easy album, but it's an album that shows RIO at one of its highest points. 4.5 out of 5.

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 Hopes and Fears by ART BEARS album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.72 | 63 ratings

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Hopes and Fears
Art Bears RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Rune2000
Special Collaborator Prog Metal Team

4 stars An excellent album that should not be heard by everyone and especially not on every occasion!

The debut album from Art Bears is merely a continuation of the already well established Henry Cow sound. The story goes like this - Hopes And Fears began as a Henry Cow album but the early sessions in Switzerland split the band due to some members dislike for a vast amount of song-oriented material. A compromise was reached when the members agreed upon splitting the material into two different releases. The song-oriented material was released under a new moniker, Art Bears, while the instrumental compositions would make up the final Henry Cow studio album.

This basically means that Hopes And Fears is as close to a Henry Cow record as one could ever get. Besides the fact that the band was comprised of Chris Cutler, Fred Frith and Dagmar Krause, we also get noteworthy contributions from Tim Hodgkinson, Lindsay Cooper and Georgie Born. The music is dominated by Dagmar Krause's haunting vocals and the instrumental arrangements which often remind me of the Residents due to their minimalistic approach that exists all throughout the album.

The most notable track out of this very mixed bunch comes right towards the end of side one with the 8+ minute thought-provoking suite called In Two Minds. It's difficult for me to understand how such a long composition can be almost entirely built around one chord but Art Bears completely nail that format and show that excellent music can come in all shapes and forms. Plus, the Pete Townshend-sounding guitar chords towards the chorus turn this tune into a complete masterpiece for me!

In Two Minds is an easy album to get into for beginners but it will take a while for it to expand beyond those initial stages of excitement and right into the excellent album I consider it today. There are definitely certain mood requirements for these kind of releases which make it strenuous to hear in passive receptive state. This is a perfect example of an active-listening album experience that should be an obligatory part of any Avant-Prog music collection!

***** star songs: In Two Minds (8:35) The Dance (5:08) The Pirate Song (1:10)

**** star songs: On Suicide (1:26) The Dividing Line (4:13) Joan (3:07) Maze (5:15) Terrain (3:54) The Tube (3:02) Labyrinth (2:20) Riddle (2:50) Moeris, Dancing (5:20) Piers (2:10)

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

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