Art Bears
Winter Songs


4.5
superb

Review

by Zig'haloperidol USER (62 Reviews)
May 5th, 2018 | 9 replies


Release Date: 1979 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A much more fitting example of Art Bears music.

Winter Songs is the first Art Bears album produced by Fred Frith, Chris Cutler and Dagmar Krause on their own, with no guest musicians, although special mention should be made of engineer Etienne Conod's contribution to their use of the studio as a compositional instrument. The group adopted an approach of creating the sound first and committing it to tape immediately, instead of leaving the sound detail to post-production mixing. The whole album was recorded and mixed simultaneously, taking just two weeks from start to finish. Amazingly, the music was all written during the recording period, Cutler arrived with the texts, Frith set them to music and the arrangements evolved in the studio.

Where their debut album explored several different themes, the lyrics for Winter Songs are informed mostly by Chris Cutler's fascination with the Middle Ages and based on carvings on the dado of the west facade of Amiens Cathedral in France. Musically, there are some folk influences first heard on Hopes and Fears, but also ventures into a dense and dark avant-rock style, strongly influenced by The Residents and Frank Zappa. With Frith playing everything except drums, the arrangements are precise and uncluttered. There are some splendid passages featuring violin and piano, as well as Frith's ever inventive noisy guitar. Chris Cutler's particularly impressive drumming is likewise a model of clarity and concision, rather than trying to fill all the available space, he knows when to drive the tempo forward, when to play softly to complement Frith or Dagmar and, most crucially, when not to play at all. Dagmar's interpretation of this material features some of her best vocal performances, stretching from the psychotic and completely mad to the semi-cabaret-style vocals. All lyrics, melody, rhythm, noise, arrangement and production are all informed by a singular vision, and there is nothing superfluous anywhere in these fourteen songs.

All in all, Winter Songs is certainly a more representative Art Bears album than its predecessor and debut Hopes and Fears. Despite the avant-garde qualities of the band, this is often a melodic, violent and cold album. Dagmar's powerful and unique voice is something of an acquired taste, and at times the album is soft and at times it becomes maniacally frenetic.



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user ratings (25)
Chart.
4.1
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Zig
May 5th 2018


1646 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Must point out that the album artwork is also amazing.

Digging: Gavin Bryars - The Sinking of the Titanic

SandwichBubble
May 5th 2018


9413 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

YES! Great review

Digging: R. Stevie Moore - Children's Museum

SandwichBubble
May 5th 2018


9413 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

All 23 of you art-bears-heads need to come out of the woodwork for this review

bgillesp
May 5th 2018


6718 Comments


I still needa check

e210013
May 7th 2018


2211 Comments


Another one review of this band. Nice. Another one to check that goes for my list.

Bom trabalho, amigo. Pos.

Zig
May 13th 2018


1646 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thnks, people!

Must say, I gave this album a second spin. It's definitely a 4.5 for me.

TheIntruder
May 16th 2018


405 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Another review of this band. Nice. Have a pos.

GhandhiLion
January 5th 2019


3807 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

pos

Digging: Ozric Tentacles - Pungent Effulgent

GhandhiLion
February 5th 2019


3807 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Ya im dumb for not 4.5ing this



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