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Art Bears - Hopes and Fears CD (album) cover


Art Bears



3.76 | 95 ratings

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4 stars 'Hopes & Fears' was recorded in 1978 and is the first record of the 'Art Bears', a band freshly created out of former Henry Cow members, Fred Frith ( who signed for the majority of the compostions), Chris Cutler (drums and lyrics) and Dagmar Krause on vocals.The other 'Henry Cow' members Georgie Born, Lindsay Cooper and Tim Hodgkinson are mentionned as guests.

There are obviously a lot of common points between the music of 'Henry Cow' and 'The Art Bears', the political-philosophical lyrics, the abstract compositions mixed with Jazz or Free-Jazz improvisations, but on the whole 'H & F' is a more stripped down affair, the songs a shorter and more focused. Most lyrics are realistic or pessimistic, depending on your point of view. The overall concept is stated in the booklett, a citation of Lucian's 'Satirical sketches' a dialogue between Charon and Hermes - Charon : "All I can see is complicated muddle - a world full of utter confusion. Their towns are like beehives in which every bee has a sting of his own and uses it against his neighbor - and some are like wasps, preying on the weaker memmbers of the community. But what are those dim shapes flying around them?" Hermes :"Hopes and fears Charon..."

Singer Dagmar Krause is strongly influenced by the German composer Hans Eisler (and his coorporation with poet-playwriter Berthold Brecht) and his wife Lotte Lenya , who had developpeed a form of 'realistic' opera singing ('Dreigroschenoper) The opening track of the record 'On suicide' is a Brecht/Eisler song. Krause's vocal style together with Frith's compositions creates often a dense and sometimes claustrophobic athmosphere like in 'Maze' or 'Riddle'. Sometimes the athmosphere reminds me the japonese 'No' theatre pieces.'The Dividing line' a Cooper composition and 'Pirate Song' and 'Labyrinth' two Hodgkinson compositions go in the same direction. The two Frith instrumentals 'Terrain' and 'Moeris Dancing' are strongly influenced by Zappa in particuler 'Uncle Meat' and the more 'lighthearted' tracks of the record. A masterpiece that needs time to be dicoverd!

Alucard | 4/5 |


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