Henry Cow's keyboardist Tim Hodgkinson formed
the Work with guitarist Bill Gilonis, bassist Mick Hobbs, drummer Rick Wilson.
The combo debuted with
Slow Crimes (january 1982 - Woof, 1982), a cycle of 16 brief songs featuring emphatic vocalist Catherine Jauniaux, sloppy polyrhythms, guitar cacophony,
with peaks of grotesque bacchanal in Balance, State Room and Knives,
fits of pseudo-punk schizophrenia in Pop and Like This,
nightmares of pseudo-disco edonism in Cain & Abel.
Live In Japan (Woof, 1982) was performed by a different quartet with
Chris Cutler on drums.
Hodgkinson's psychotic/emphatic vocals and jagged guitar lines erupted
with the energy of hard rock, supported by intense drumming and assorted
instrumental convolutions. But none of the twelve brief pieces was
worthy of the classic Art Bears sound, and certainly the inferior vocals
were part of the problem.
He then helped Catherine Jauniaux record Fluvial (1984), a more
eclectic and original album of stylistic contaminations.
Work's guitarist Bill Gilonis and vocalist Catherine Jauniaux also formed
the Hat Shoes, a quartet with Charles Hayward of This Heat and cellist Tom Cora.
They released Differently Desperate (1991) and
Splutter (1986), solo clarinet improvisations,
and Shams (1988), experimental duets with percussionist Ken Hyder,
displayed Hodgkinson's avantgarde ambitions.
Gilonis also released Zurich Bamberg (ReR, 2009), a long-distance
collaboration with Chantale Laplante that consists in "concrete" collages of
found sounds, recorded between 2002 and 2006.
Tim Hodgkinson then formed a new group, Momes, that released
Spiralling (Woof, 1989).
Work's original line-up reunited for Rubber Cage (december 1990 - Woof, 1991), boasting a vastly more professional and structured sound and little of
the raw punkish hysteria of Slow Crimes,
and See (Discmedi, 1992 - ReR, 2010), that contained
intricate industrial-blues songs such as Rim and Warehouse
and especially the Charles Ives-ian mini-symphony Shine.
Their last album, The 4th World (ReR, 2010), recorded in 1994, was only
released 16 years later: 20 pieces (mostly very short) that ran the gamut from
blues to electroacoustic music, with theusual doses of the usual brainy songs.
Each In Our Own Thoughts (Woof, 1995) collects unreleased compositions
that date back to the early Henry Cow years
(Hold To The Zero Burn) and that display
Hodgkinson's ambitions in classical music
(String Quartet 1, Numunous Pools for Mental Orchestra).
The idea was further developed on Pragma (Rift, 1997), a set of
pieces that mix improvisation and composition, conceived for a combination
of computers, samples and live instruments.
Sang (ReR, 2000) continued the exploration of new techniques:
The Crackle Of Forests (possibly his most significant orchestral composition),
The Road To Erzin and Gushe
each employs a different set of elements and heads in a different direction,
revisiting ideas that hark back to Edgar Varese and Arnold Schoenberg while
assimilating sampling, world-music and free-jazz.
Hodgkinson's project Konk Pact, on the other hand, released the live album
The Big Deep and especially Warp Out (Grob, 2002), whose three
lengthy compositions straddle the border between psychedelia and
free-jazz, and therefore mark a return to the Work.
K-Space was a collaboration between Hodgkinson, drummer Ken Hyder and
Siberian shaman Gendos Chamzyryn. The music on Going Up (Ad Hoc, 2005)
resulted from the studio manipulation of their playing, singing, chatting and
Wolf takes almost eight minutes to come out of a diluted cacophonic fog.
The shaman sounds like Captain Beefheart and
the British duo tunes in by playing skewed lines and improbable bluesy rhythms
like the Magic Band used to.
Yellow Canal hides the shaman's cries in a dense magma of distortions,
and K-Kosmos smothers them into a loose galaxy of noise,
and Ocheeshenia transforms them into a mantric "om".
The subtlety of these tracks disappears in the
percussive orgy of Three Dungurs and the
16-minute bacchanal Black Sky, the one piece where the duo unleashes
its prog-rock credentials.
K-Space's brief Infinity (ReR, 2008) was an experiment in delivering music to the public: the music, equipped with custom software, plays only a computer, and every time it plays differently (according to some internal logic) and no part of it can be paused or skipped. In other words, the piece is an indivisible whole, that can only be rearranged (according to its own laws not to the listener's desires). Aside from the technicalities, the piece is one lengthy and chaotic excursion into primitive percussive music, a tribal-shamanic-psychedelic mayhem with atonal instruments.
(Translated by Claudio Vespignani) |
Tastierista degli Henry Cow, Tim Hodgkinson formo’ i Work col chitarrista Bill Gilonis, il bassista Mick Hobbs e il batterista
Rick Wilson. Il complesso debuttò con Slow crimes (Woof 1982), una raccolta di 16 brevi pezzi comprendenti la cantante
Catherine Jauniaux (Brickyard), mentre Live in Japan (Woof 1982) riguardava una formazione differente.
In seguito Hodgkinson diede una mano alla Jauniaux nella registrazione di Fluvial (1984), un lavoro piu' originale ed eclettico
di contaminazioni stilistiche.
Splutter (1986), con improvvisazioni di clarinetto solista, e Shams (1988), duetti sperimentali col percussionista Ken Hyder,
dimostrano le ambizioni avanguardistiche di Hodgkinson.
A quel punto Hodgkinson formo’ un nuovo gruppo, i Momes, con cui fece uscire Spiralling (Woof 1989).
La formazione originale dei Work torno’ su Rubber cage (Woof 1990) e See (Discmedi 1992), ma con un suono piuttosto
differente (meno prog-rock e piu’ rumoroso/industriale).
Each in our own thoughts (Woof 1995) raccoglie composizioni inedite che risalgono ai giorni degli Henry Cow (Hold to the
zero burn) e che mostrano le ambizioni di Hodgkinson di sfociare nella musica classica (String quartet 1, Numumous pools
for mental orchestra).
L’idea fu ulteriormente sviluppata su Pragma (Rift 1997), una raccolta di pezzi che unisce improvvisazione a composizione,
concepito come combinazioni di computer, campionature e strumenti dal vivo.
Sang (ReR 2000) continua la sperimentazione di nuove tecniche. The crackle of forests (forse la composizione orchestrale
più significativa), The road to ezrin e Gushe impiegano entrambi un insieme diverso di elementi e si muovono in direzioni
opposte, andando a ripescare vecchie idee di Edgar Varese e Arnold Schoenberg, tramite campionature, world music e
Il progetto Konk Pact, dall’altro verso, ha dato vita al disco dal vivo The big deep e sopratuttto Warp out (Grob 2002), le cui
tre lunghe composizioni stanno al confine fra psichedelia e free jazz, e perciò segnano un chiaro ritorno alle sonorità dei Work.