Henry Cow
Western Culture


4.0
excellent

Review

by Jhon Zigman USER (46 Reviews)
April 13th, 2018 | 9 replies


Release Date: 1979 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A fitting end to a remarkable group.

By late 1977, during Henry Cow's last years, all members went to focus on other musical projects, Cutler, Frith and Dagmar formed a song-oriented band called Art Bears, and Cooper co-founded the Feminist Improvising Group, while Hodgkinson would go into the post-punk scene. Western Culture is an instrumental album which came about as a result of disagreements in the band as to what the composition of their next album should be. As a compromise it was agreed that two albums would be made: one of songs, released soon after as "Hopes and Fears" under the name of a new group Art Bears, and one of purely instrumental compositions. The group split up shortly after recording this album.

As for the music, Western Culture marked a drastic change in sound from their previous albums, being Henry Cow's most coherent album and the only one to feature only composed instrumental pieces, on which Lindsay Cooper emerged as a talented composer in her own right. Each vinyl side is entirely composed by either Tim Hodgkinson or Cooper. On side A, Hodgkinson's three separate parts blend into a continuous whole with brass and reeds having a prominent part here, with relatively little electric guitar but with acoustic guitar. These compositions are a continuation of the musical style first heard on "Living In The Heart Of The Beast", but with more of a jazz element. On side B, Lindsay Cooper's compositions are lighter and a more diverse selection, drawing on contemporary classical and avant-garde influences. "Falling Away" is very reminiscent of Frank Zappa's late 60's style, and her compositions continue in a playful vein, a great contrast to the dark rigid terseness of Hodgkinson's side.

Overall, Western Culture is a fitting end to one of the most important avant-garde bands of the 1970s, even though the key players in Henry Cow continued to work together in various configurations over the years, released a lot of fine music and exerted a massive influence. Although, this album doesn't follow the path left by the Slapp Happy/Henry Cow collaboration, it still is an excellent instrumental album that bonds avant-garde jazz with contemporary classical music.



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user ratings (31)
Chart.
4
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Zig
April 13th 2018


946 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

After reviewing the Slapp Happy/Henry Cow collaboration, I couldn't leave this one behind.

Digging: Jon Hassell - Vernal Equinox

SandwichBubble
April 13th 2018


7024 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Doing god's work Zig

Digging: Jeromes Dream - Seeing Means More Than Safety

Jethro42
April 13th 2018


15492 Comments


I don't dig it.

e210013
April 13th 2018


2018 Comments


You're too much fast to me Zig with Henry Cow reviews. I was a bit occupied till now, but I'll read your review later. Anyway, great job with this band.

e210013
April 16th 2018


2018 Comments


"one of the most important avant-garde bands of the 1970s"

I completely agree with you my friend. As I said already, I love their debut and I must check the other albums too. Great work with this band. Pos.

Parabéns, amigo.

Frippertronics
Staff Reviewer
April 16th 2018


17638 Comments


please tell me you're gonna cover some Art Bears

Zig
April 20th 2018


946 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Obrigado, amigo.

Tbh, I wrote these last two reviews almost at the same time.

Zig
April 20th 2018


946 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

@Frippertronics: of course, maybe after Fred Frith's Guitar Solos.

TheIntruder
May 2nd 2018


392 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Nice review of a great album. Have a pos.



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