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Friends and Enemies

Fred Frith & Henry Kaiser

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Album Review

In 1979, guitarists Fred Frith and Henry Kaiser made an album titled With Friends Like These... on the Metalanguage label. It was one of the defining documents of the downtown avant-garde scene, a collection of improvised duets on which both players essentially redefined the sound of the guitar, Frith with his physically altered (and sometimes beaten) instruments, and Kaiser with his virtuosic and harmonically adventurous technique. Four years later they reunited to make Who Needs Enemies?, again on Metalanguage, and on this second album they expanded their arsenal to include the Linn drum and sequencer. Metalanguage went belly up not too long after, and until now the only in-print remnant from those two albums was a condensed single-disc package on SST. The Cuneiform reissue improves on the SST item enormously, first of all by including the entirety of both albums, secondly by adding another full album's worth of previously unreleased live material, and thirdly by adding on top of that another half hour of new studio performances. In short, this set offers everything Frith and Kaiser have recorded together, and at mid-price. Absolutely a must for noise fans, skronk hounds, and adventurous guitarheads.

Biography

Born: 17 February 1949 in Heathfield, England

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

In the '60s and '70s, much (if not most) contemporary improvisation was jazz-based. That began to change in the '80s, when a significant number of rock musicians began exploring the possibilities of free improvisation and new classical forms. Fred Frith is one of the more prominent. Co-founder of the underground British band Henry Cow in 1968, composer/improviser/guitarist Frith moved to the U.S. in the late '70s, where he began associations with such New York-based experimental musicians as cellist...
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Friends and Enemies, Fred Frith
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