Unrest (Henry Cow album)

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For other uses, see Unrest (disambiguation).
Studio album by Henry Cow
Released May 1974 (1974-05)
Recorded February–March 1974, The Manor, Oxfordshire, England
Genre Avant-rock, avant-garde jazz
Length 40:08
Label Virgin (UK)
Producer Henry Cow
Henry Cow chronology
Desperate Straights
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars[1]
Robert Christgau A−[2]

Unrest is an album by British avant-rock group Henry Cow, recorded at Virgin Records's Manor studios in February and March 1974. It was their second album and was released in May 1974.

The album was dedicated to Robert Wyatt and Uli Trepte. The cover art work was by artist Ray Smith and was the second of three "paint socks" to feature on Henry Cow's albums.


When Henry Cow began recording Unrest, they found they did not have enough composed material to fill the LP. Because of studio time constraints, they were forced to "improvise" and developed a "studio composition" process that involved improvising to tape, tape manipulation, loops, layering and overdubbing. The balance of the LP (tracks 2 to 5 on side 2) were "composed" in this manner.[3][4] On parts of "Ruins" and "Linguaphonie", the bassoon, alto saxophone, drums and voice were recorded at half or double speed.[3]

The Fred Frith composition "Bittern Storm over Ülm" was a "perversion" of one his favourite Yardbirds songs, "Got to Hurry" (1965) into which he added bars, beats and half-beats. For "Ruins", Frith used Fibonacci numbers to establish beat and harmony, after reading about Hungarian composer Béla Bartók's use of the Fibonacci series.[5] "Solemn Music" was from Henry Cow's music for John Chadwick's play, The Tempest, and is the only piece from that suite to be released.[3]

The vocal/piano piece at the end of "Deluge" is sung and played by John Greaves.

Track listing[edit]

Side one
  1. "Bittern Storm over Ulm" (Frith) – 2:44
  2. "Half Asleep/Half Awake" (Greaves) – 7:39
  3. "Ruins" (Frith) – 12:00
Side two
  1. "Solemn Music" (Frith) – 1:09
  2. "Linguaphonie" (Henry Cow) – 5:58
  3. "Upon Entering the Hotel Adlon" (Henry Cow) – 2:56
  4. "Arcades" (Henry Cow) – 1:50
  5. "Deluge" (Henry Cow) – 5:52
Bonus tracks on 1991 CD re-issue
  1. "The Glove" (Henry Cow) – 6:35
  2. "Torch Fire" (Henry Cow) – 4:48


Sound and art work[edit]

  • Phil Becque – recording engineer, mixing engineer (side 1)
  • Andy Morris – recording engineer
  • Mike Oldfield – recording engineer (part of "Ruins")
  • Henry Cow – mixing engineers (side 2), producers
  • Ray Smith – cover art
  • Matt Murman – remastered 1999 CD reissue

CD reissues[edit]

In 1991 East Side Digital issued Unrest on CD with two extra tracks, "The Glove" and "Torchfire" (derived from raw material recorded during the Unrest sessions).[6]

In 1999 Recommended Records and East Side Digital issued a remastered version of Unrest on CD with the bonus tracks omitted. All versions of the album (LP and CD) utilize the same mix.

LP reissues[edit]

In 2010 Recommended Records released a 180gr. vinyl, limited (1000 copies) edition (RERVHC2LP) of Unrest.

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Anderson, Rick. "Unrest". Allmusic. Retrieved 2011-06-15. 
  2. ^ Christgau, Robert. "Henry Cow". Robert Christgau. Retrieved 2011-06-15. 
  3. ^ a b c CD liner notes
  4. ^ Cutler, Chris. "Henry Cow". Chris Cutler homepage. Retrieved 2009-02-18. 
  5. ^ Cutler 2009, vol. 1–5, p. 11.
  6. ^ Ramond, Michel; Roussel, Patrice; Vuilleumier, Stephane. "Discography of Fred Frith". New York Downtown Scene and Other Miscellaneous Discographies. Retrieved 2013-09-13. 

External links[edit]