Henry Cow

Western Culture

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The group's fourth and final studio LP, Western Culture remained for a long time Henry Cow's hidden treasure. Two factors were instrumental to its occultation (and one more than the other): first, it was not released by Virgin like the other ones; second, it did not have the "sock" artwork common to its brothers. Obscurity aside, Western Culture remains one of the group's strongest efforts in the lines of composition, especially since the unit was literally torn apart at the time. Side one consists of a suite in three parts, "History & Prospects," written by Tim Hodgkinson. The opener, "Industry," stands as one of Henry Cow's finest achievements, the angular melody played on a cheap electric organ hitting you in the face so hard it makes an imprint in your brains. Side two features another suite, this one in four parts and by Lindsay Cooper. While Hodgkinson's music leans toward rock, energy, and deconstruction, her writing embraced more contemporary classical idioms. Filled with contrasting textures and delicate complicated melodies, these pieces showcased another aspect of the group's sound while foretelling her later works. Swiss pianist Irène Schweizer performed a cadenza of sorts in "Gretel's Tale."

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