Unrest (Henry Cow album)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For other uses, see Unrest (disambiguation).
HenryCow AlbumCover Unrest.jpg
Studio album by Henry Cow
Released May 1974 (1974-05)
Recorded February–March 1974
Studio 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' Manor studios in February and March 1974. It was their second album and was released in May 1974. It was their first album including oboe and bassoon player Lindsay Cooper, who replaced saxophonist Geoff Leigh.

The album was dedicated to Robert Wyatt and Uli Trepte.


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 of 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.

Cover art[edit]

The album cover art work was by artist Ray Smith and was the second of the three "paint socks" to feature on Henry Cow's albums. Smith was an old friend of the band from Cambridge who had worked with them on two dance projects and had often supported them in performance art at concerts. Smith came up with the idea of the woven sock and insisted that the band's name should not appear on the front cover. As Cutler later explained, in a 2011 interview, the idea was extended through the whole album series, with the sock changing "to suit the temper of the music".[6]

CD reissues[edit]

In 1991 East Side Digital issued a remixed version (by Tim Hodgkinson in 1984) of Unrest on CD with two extra tracks, "The Glove" and "Torchfire" (derived from raw material recorded during the Unrest sessions).[7][8] Another remixed version of "Bittern Storm over Ulm" appeared as "Bittern Storm Revisited" on The Last Nightingale in 1984.

In 1999 Recommended Records and East Side Digital issued a remastered version of Unrest on CD with the original mixing restored and the bonus tracks omitted.

LP reissues[edit]

In 2010 Recommended Records released a 180gr. vinyl, limited (1000 copies) edition (RERVHC2LP) of Unrest, mastered from the 1999 CD edition.

Track listing[edit]

All music composed by Henry Cow except where noted.

Side one
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Bittern Storm over Ulm" Frith 2:44
2. "Half Asleep/Half Awake" Greaves 7:39
3. "Ruins" Frith 12:00
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Length
4. "Solemn Music" Frith 1:09
5. "Linguaphonie"   5:58
6. "Upon Entering the Hotel Adlon"   2:56
7. "Arcades"   1:50
8. "Deluge"   5:52


Henry Cow
  • 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

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. ^ "Chris Cutler interview about Henry Cow, Art Bears, Cassiber...". It's Psychedelic Baby Magazine. 22 December 2011. Retrieved 19 May 2015. 
  7. ^ "Henry Cow: Unrest (ESD version)". ReR Megacorp. Retrieved 2017-02-15. 
  8. ^ Ramond, Michel; Roussel, Patrice; Vuilleumier, Stephane. "Discography of Fred Frith". New York Downtown Scene and Other Miscellaneous Discographies. Retrieved 2016-05-29. 
Works cited