Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Art Bears - Hopes and Fears (1978)

While a lot of bands were blazing their own, totally unique musical trails in the late 70s, Art Bears were an avant-rock group that chose to piece bits of the previous musical decades together until they fit into a half-coherent, creepy musical collage. Combining elements of folk, jazz, noise, and blues, the bears capitalized on the Beefheart equation for success, and subsequently gained their share of punkoid followers. Their name, in legend may not precede them now, but their short-lived legacy lasts on today with a few fairly mythical albums.

This is their debut album Hope and Fears from 1978. It's very strangely strung together, and sometimes it's a little hard to follow, but if yo stick with it it unfolds into a really unique musical moment. There's a lot of bits. It's freaky. There's deep strings that are vaguely reminiscent of a Bernard Herrmann score, there's a lot of off-kilter noise, and there's a hand full of eerie, creepy, and lonely narratives that intersect throughout the course of 13 tracks.

And, if you can't find the path by the first couple tunes, go to track 7, "Terrain." It'll put you on the right track.

This album should also serve as proof of American music's supremacy over British music. Like I said, they try to pull off the Beefheart thing, and it works sometimes, but the redcoats just don't have the soul...

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