Winter Songs

Art Bears

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Winter Songs Review

by Ted Mills

Finding distribution on the Residents' Ralph Records label, the Art Bears' second album consists of 12 songs of various tensions: rest vs. speed, improv vs. pulse, space vs. density, Dagmar Kraus's vocals vs. everyone else. As usual, Chris Cutler's lyrics tell political allegories through medieval-tinged stories: slaves, castles, and wheels of fortune (and industry) dominate. Fred Frith explores discordance through his guitar, and European folk figures through his always enjoyable violin. Though not as confrontational as their other work, the centerpiece has to be the frantic "Rats and Monkeys" with three minutes of teeth-gritting, out-of-control insanity as all three players are plugged into a wall outlet and let rip. A guaranteed lease breaker if played often enough. [Winter Songs was included in the Art Box box set along with Hopes & Fears and The World as It Is Today -- with all three in remastered form -- released by ReR in 2004.]

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