Work - Rubber Cage (2006 remaster)
When Henry Cow fell apart in the summer of 1978, the main players in the band dispersed. Fred Frith left England to settle in NYC for a good number of years, getting involved the then just beginning to evolve 'downtown' sound, recording three excellent and high-profile albums for Ralph Records, forming first Massacre and then Skeleton Crew. Chris Cutler formed the Art Bears and also was an important member of Cassiber. Lindsay Cooper and Georgie Born did a lot of musical improvising and John Greaves had already begun his solo career. So, a lot of great projects from all of these musicians. But for me, possibly the best, most unexpected and most radical of all the immediate offshoots of Henry Cow was Tim Hodgkinson's band The Work. Abandoning keyboards and teaching himself to play 'flat guitar' (Hawaiian-style guitar played flat on the lap with a slide) and still playing reeds, but also adding vocals for the first time, the legend at the time about the band was that he found 3 non-musicians and taught them how to play from scratch, ala the Magic Band (also a not-true legend). While this is apparently not the case, the music was so amazing and mostly so idiosyncratic that it was easy to believe this 'urban myth'. After falling apart in 1982, the band reformed with all four original members in 1989 and released this, their second studio album.
"Any album by The Work is difficult to categorize, or to pigeon-hole. The band’s output has been labeled everything from “Post-Punk” to “Acid Jazz”, and yet any sort of classification just doesn’t seem to do the music justice. These are powerful recordings of the band’s most densely composed material, musically akin to another of their classics, “Slow Crimes”, but honed into even more mature fashion. (The band had broken up after a tour of Japan in 1982, and reformed for this record 7 years later. In the interim, each of the musicians’ talents and compositional abilities had grown by leaps and bounds). This album was a new beginning for The Work, and set them off in a slightly different direction than they had previously employed: Much of the energy of this music came from the sheer “tenseness” of the compositions; they didn’t need to bludgeon the ears to get the point across. Besides collecting what could arguably be their most finely crafted songs, this disk best displays the group’s unusual sense of individual soloing: The singularly-plucked cello during “Dangerfish”, and the free-form piano of “Jay”, both seem to be the intrinsic opposite of the musical settings they embellish. Capturing such disparate approaches sets up a dichotomy of styling throughout this exceedingly intense album, offering startling (and usually brutal) results."
- LabelAd Hoc