Styles: Avant-Prog, Prog-Rock/ Art Rock, New Wave, Post-Punk, Experimental Rock
A warm and wonderful avant-garde band consisting of Fred Frith, Chris Cutler, and vocalist extraordinaire Dagmar Krause. Frith and Cutler were longtime members of the seminal English radical political avant-garde art rock band Henry Cow, while Krause sang primarily with the fine German band Slapp Happy and in Henry Cow's latter years. The Art Bears were intended as a short-term project, but, even so, their three-year existence resulted in three excellent albums that relied more on shorter, more traditional, almost pop-oriented song forms than huge, complex musical and lyrical extrapolations. The political tinge of the Henry Cow years never went away, and it was unsurprising that Marxist rhetoric and anti-capitalist diatribes formed much of band's lyrical firmament. Frith, as he proved in Cow, was (and is) a guitarist of astonishing ability, combining a searing, complex technique reminiscent of the free music improvisations of seminal British guitarist Derek Bailey with a boyhood love of blues and early British rock & roll. Cutler, a pop music theorist as well as drummer, skittishly plays his trap kit, providing a propulsive rhythmic base upon which Frith can dazzle. Admittedly, Dagmar Krause's quasi-operatic, very German style can take some getting used to, but she is a daring singer, unafraid to bend and twist her voice into knots or screech with uncontrolled passion and exuberance. Their life was fleeting, but the Art Bears wrote and recorded bold, challenging, idiosyncratic music that, despite its occasional difficulty, is ultimately very rewarding.
-John Dougan (All Music Guide)