'This is not Henry Cow.'
|In 1972 I spent a few months in Cambridge (UK). It was an absurd time, and my life there was much like something out of a Lewis Carroll book, and included characters as diverse as Syd Barratt and Aaron Copeland. Appropiately anchoring the local music scene at the time was Henry Cow, an uncompromisingly experimental outfit who went on to be the first band ever released on Virgin Records. By the mid-70's the band had set a standard of intellectual non-conformity that inspired many others, such as This Heat, that laid the foundation for post-punk. So when I heard that Fred Frith, Tim Hodgkinson, and Chris Cutler, who, along with John Greaves, formed the core of the group, were playing NYC - the punkcast cam was there, especially considering this was the first time they had played together in something like 30 years. The occasion that had precipitated this historic encounter was the curation by the Downtown Music Gallery of a month of shows at The Stone, a storefront on Ave C dedicated to avant-garde music under the auspices of John Zorn. In previous days other UK luminaries such as Lol Coxhill, (ex-Slit!) Steve Beresford, and Hugh Hopper had all appeared. But this night was one of the most keenly anticipated. The trio wanted no misunderstandings. "This is not Henry Cow!" declared Frith as the second set commenced, dedicating the session to absent fellow members. Then ensued a 50 minute piece of pure improvisation, an adventure of timbre and tempo. While the basic tools were regular instruments augmented by electronics, a wild array of devices were utilized to play them. Combs and brushes, a cloth, even a toilet chain, were applied to guitars that were tuned and retuned on the fly. A cliplamp's shade augmented a cymbal. A ball rolled around the inside of a hubcap. A whistle blew. Various metal objects were bowed. Etc. It was fascinating and curiously uplifting and the audience - there wasn't a spare square inch in the room - was totally rapt. The clip here is the encore, which Fred initiated with a loop of an inane cackle.
|Clicking here will take you to the file on Google video. The h.264 is iPod-ready. Downtown Music Gallery also recorded audio and video and I understand there are plans to release that at some point. Check their site. Update: A CD of the Chris Cutler/Fred Frith performance from the day before has now been released as a benefit for The Stone. Click here for info.
DMG photos from this show - Chris Cutler | Fred Frith | Tim Hodgkinson PUNKCAST Home Page
capture captain: joly
date posted: 1/14/07
Bruce Lee Gallanter's Diary of the entire December 2006 DMG Fest
Wikipedia Henry Cow | Chris Cutler | Fred Frith | Tim Hodgkinson
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DMG photos from this show - Chris Cutler | Fred Frith | Tim Hodgkinson
PUNKCAST Home Page