Robert Fripp's "1999" CD from 1994 was released during a time when the legendary guitarist was making a major comeback. King Crimson had returned after a decade-long absence and Fripp re-emerged with his first solo performances in almost as long. 1994 also marked the birth of Fripp's 'soundscaping' technique which was and still is an extension of his 'Frippertronic' experiments of the 1970's and '80's. Instead of using two tape machines as had been the norm with 'Frippertronics', Soundscapes utilized digital technology and guitar-synthesizers to create and loop the endless mass of sound created by Fripp from his guitar. The idea was not a new one but the sound definitely was.
God Save the King is actually a split release and/or a Robert Fripp compilation, depending on how you look at it. In 1980, Robert Fripp released something of a split disc himself, called God Save the Queen/Under Heavy Manners, consisting of a side of Frippertronics and a side of Discotronics, the latter being Frippertronics with a "dance-oriented" (according to Fripp) rhythm section. Also in 1980, Fripp formed a new group, borrowing the name from his early-'60s band, the League of Gentlemen.
Fusing the talents of Robert Fripp, Trey Gunn, and the California Guitar Trio, you'd be wrong to assume that The Bridge Between is a boring album of guitar aerobics for guitar enthusiasts. This is a wonderful piece of work. Its most dubious attribute is to sometimes descend into Sky (the Anglo-Australian outfit formed by John Williams, Francis Monkman etc) territory in its medieval harpsichord delivery ("Passacaglia," "Contrapunctus"). However "Kanon Power" and standouts "Bicycling to Afghanistan" and "Blockhead" are fretboard knitted excellence. Unfortunately, the latter two are separated by a five-minute downbeat – "Blue" – and the set is spoiled by a near-13-minute endgame "Threnody for Souls in Torment," which would be better placed elsewhere. None the less, you can always hit the stop button after "Passacaglia" or better, stick "Afghan" and "Blockhead" on repeat!
Fripp continues his Soundscape series with this typically evocative piece. As with his other work of this period, the theme touches on devotional and spiritual matters, with Fripp painting challenging and solitary impressions with "Frippertronic" brushstrokes. The new age set will most likely balk at his more dissonant passages, but King Crimson fans and those with a taste for the unusual will delight in his ascetic excess.
After rehearsals in New York with John Wetton and Michael Walden in 1977 had finished, Robert Fripp continued to work on and refine material for what would become Exposure with Tony Levin and Jerry Marotta. Having worked with the pair previously with Peter Gabriel in both the studio and on stage the previous year, there’s an easy fluency between the players here. That could of course also be the result of the material here being more formed and developed than the previous Exposure rehearsals. While some of these pieces are familiar we get to hear them in either their raw state such as the new-to-these-ears Slow Stomp, or, as in the case of You Burn Me Up, moving towards a finished form that’s instantly recognisable.
‘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.
Following on from the previous evening’s performance at Wimborne Minster, Travis & Fripp decamp to Broad Chalke. Around 50 or so people gratefully exchanged the sweltering heat outdoors for All Saints’ cool stone walls and lofty wooden rafters. Working in a productive mixture of agreed areas (such as a key or a “feel”) and complete improvisation, the performance is a delicately tightrope walk between two worlds. Perhaps due to differences of venues, times and the occasion (this was ostensibly a fund-raiser for the local school), the music seemed lighter in tone compared to the more sombre mood struck the previous evening.
When Robert Fripp is away from King Crimson, truly magical things come from his guitar. In a solo context, Fripp presents Soundscapes, built on the tradition of Frippertronics, a mode of musical expression he pioneered with Brian Eno over the course of two albums in the 1970s, No Pussyfooting and Evening Star. Those early albums relied on actual physical loops of tape, adding new elements with each repetition. Such limitations no longer exist. Working here in the realm of one guitar, and many, many effects processors, Fripp produces tones and textures that one would not assume are coming from a guitar at all.
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.