Henry Cow Book Reviewed

Source: Los Angeles Review of Books.

BENJAMIN PIEKUT’S BOOK Henry Cow: The World Is a Problem is a biography and study of Henry Cow, a British collective of musicians whose existence spanned roughly 10 years from incubation to dissolution (1968–’78). But its aim is grander than that. The book is also a meditation on a range of issues: what Piekut calls “the vernacular avant-garde” in music (but with implications for artistic practice in general); the racial and sexual politics of contemporary music; communal life as an art project; improvisation and uncertainty as a method for living in the world; and (as the book’s subtitle, borrowing a phrase from one of the band’s members, suggests) on the world not as a given reality but as problem to be confronted and resolved.