‘Discretion’ is the brand new album by pioneering guitar legend Robert Fripp and flautist/saxophonist Theo Travis made available for Bowers & Wilkins Society of Sound in stunning 24 bit high quality digital format. The music follows on from the duo’s previous album releases and combines almost telepathic interplay with a deep understanding of musical texture and space, the building of long slow melodies, and the creation of slowly shifting harmonic soundscapes.
Although the titles to several of the tracks may be the same as those at Broad Chalke, the performance in front of a large audience has a much grander and at times, darker feel, to the previous evening. The difference can be heard almost immediately in the opening track. Whereas, The Apparent Chaos of Stone was a more languorous affair at Broad Chalke, here at Bishop’s Cleeve, Fripp begins to throw some startling curve-balls of pensive guitar after only a few minutes. Given the slow silky tones that makes up much of the opening piece it can be easy to miss some of the detailed interplay that occurs between the two players.
As the League head north, possibly chastened by the previous evening’s encounter with a mouthy fan in London, there’s only a rather fleeting stage announcement from Fripp tonight. There’s a business-like feel to the concert which is not to say that it’s in any way deficient or lacking. Rather, the band maintain a tight focus on the notes perhaps rather than it’s spirit. Major hits are scored with Hepataparaparshinokh and the wild-card sorties that are Thrang Thrang Gozinbulx I & II have the effect of bulldozing aside any doubts or worries about such matters.
Though this particular line-up were edging closer to oblivion, listening to this full show 30 years after the event, the energy levels are astounding. In his journal from the time RF described the show as "Tired. Lifeless. Lacklustre” Maybe Fripp’s estimation of the gig was informed by his recovering from mild food poisoning, the cumulative effect of prunes and a boil in his ear! It seems nobody was happy this particular night. Sound engineer George Chkaintz had trouble with the sound in the recording truck, roadie Tex is frightened to turn down Wetton’s amp despite the discreet urgings of other members of the band and crew, Fripp is giving tour manager Dik Frasier grie, and the promoter isn’t best pleased because the band haven’t done an encore!