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Robert Fripp: Archive articles

РЕЗУЛЬТАТЫ начинают печатать архивные материалы из западной периодики о Роберте Фриппе, King Crimson и других проектах Роберта Фриппа. Делается это для того, чтобы поклонники таланта Роберта Фриппа смогли яснее прочувствовать обстановку, в которой творил Роберт Фрипп. Для многих молодых людей сейчас уже недоступны журналы и газеты 10 - 15 летней давности. Надеемся, что наши публикации помогут им и не только им, а и более зрелым "фриппоманам" узнать больше о маэстро Фриппе и оценках его творчества. Мы принципиально не стали переводить материалы, а перепечатываем их в оригинале. Это, на наш взгляд, более правильно, ибо не искажает журналистского англо-американского контекста. Публикации будут периодически пополняться.

Читайте. Надеемся, что Вас это заинтересует.

АТ & Sven L. (март 2005)


REZULTATY starts to publish archive materials from Western periodicals about Robert Fripp, King Crimson and other Fripp`s projects. We are doing it to give Robert Fripp fans an opportunity to better understand the environment in which R. Fripp worked. Copies of newspapers and magazines published 10 or 15 years ago are not so easy to get hold of. We hope that our publications will help both the young and mature Fripp fans to learn more about Maestro Fripp and the critique of his work. We decided to publish the original materials without translation -- we are doing this to avoid any distortion of the British and American cultural context. Our publications will be periodically updated.

We hope you will enjoy reading these materials.

AT & Sven L. (March 2005)


Riffs:
Woodard, Josef. Down Beat.
Chicago: Jul 1991. Vol. 58, Iss. 7; p.13

ROBERT FRIPP

Rock guitar icon Robert Fripp didn`t get where he is by being one of the boys. Fripp has, by his own design, been off the public music scene for several years, conducting his highly specialized "GuitarCraft" course. But he remains an influential stylist with his own agenda, one of the most distinctive guitarists to have emerged from the British rock scene of the late `60s. With his progressive rock band King Crimson, Fripp first put forward his guitar approach—which was far less blues-based than his peers, leaning more on exotic tonalities and heady musical concepts.
In person, he has good posture, closely-cropped hair, and crisp diction. In short, Fripp is the picture of discipline (to quote the King Crimson album). And yet Fripp also has a dry sense of irony, and his clear eyes twinkle when a joke is in the air. Alternately self-conscious, wary, and supremely confident, he is prone to pronouncements about being "resplendent in divergence," or "allowing the future to present itself."

When he last "confronted the future" in 1985, that future entailed designing GuitarCraft. As of 1991, the future is again in Fripp`s face, and his consciousness—what he calls the "marketplace"—is calling.

As of now, Fripp is hanging up his GuitarCraft shoes and has appeared on three new recordings (all on EG, distributed domestically by Caroline): Ophelia`s Shadow, a solo album by his wife Toyah; Kneeling At The Shrine, by his new progressive pop band Sunday All Over The World (featuring Toyah); and Hot To Hock, a new studio album by the League of Crafty Guitarists, a guitar ensemble made up of bright GuitarCraft proteges. The new product is identifiably Fripperific, full of rippling polyrhythmic phrases and angular solos, marked by leaping arpeggios and soaring, long notes.

And wait, there`s more: Next fall, Fripp will release a multiple-CD box set of King Crimson outtakes and remixes, and there is rumor of a King Crimson reunion.

Fripp was interviewed while in the midst of one of his last GuitarCraft seminars. (GuitarCraft will carry on, but now without its master) As Fripp explains, "With no disrespect to the team within GuitarCraft— there are some good players—I need, as a musician and player, to work with musicians who feed and fire me.That is not my role in GuitarCraft. I have no regrets about having spent six years in GuitarCraft, anymore than I have regrets about going back to my day job."

For some time, Fripp`s "day job" has involved experimental side projects. In the 70s, Fripp expanded his vocabulary beyond rock with such projects as his ethereal collaborations with Brian Eno and the creation of "Frippertronics" —a self-generated, interactive tape-loop system which built up layers of guitar lines, creating a constantly changing tapestry of sound.

By the early `80s, King Crimson was reborn as a lean new quartet, with Fripp`s cerebral style bouncing off of Adrian Belew`s freewheeling antics and the snaky rhythm section of bassist Tony Levin and drummer Bill Bruford. But soon Fripp`s ever-active mind was turning elsewhere. Retreating from the public sphere in 1984, Fripp got an invitation to give a guitar seminar. He had no wish to teach guitar but then a revelation came, in the form of an unorthodox guitar tuning which he calls the С pentatonic tuning (C-G-D-A-E-G, from the lowest to the highest string). As Fripp comments, "The old standard tuning I`m afraid I have very little respect for—it`s an arbitrary botch.

"The apple fell on my head while I was sweating in a sauna. This wasn`t a rational thing. Musicians understand that you work on hunches and have insights, or you hear a phrase. That`s how the creative musician works. It seemed fairly obvious that the purpose of this tuning was for the guitar seminar"

Next came his meeting Toyah, already a pop star in England. While working on a charity project, they fell in love, then married, and formed a family band. "Within a fairly short time in 1985," Fripp says jokingly, "the two utterly new major forces in my life were my wife and GuitarCraft."

For Fripp, the musician and the man, improvisation and calculation are bedfellows. He sees his life in terms of distinct seven-year phases, a new one of which is in the offing.

"I have a few ideas of what`s going to be a part of that, but there`s enough room for something really new to present itself. If I knew exactly what was going to happen, it wouldn`t be fun. It`s like, you`ve got the charts, you play them and then go home. Well, you might begin with the first eight bars and then see where it all takes you.
"So I have a sense of what`s involved, just enough to get me excited—but not enough to hold me back." 

Josef Woodard



Return of the Crimson King
Fricke, David. Rolling Stone. New York: Apr 29, 1993., Iss. 655;  pg. 20

The reformation of the band King Crimson is discussed. After an almost ten-year hiatus, guitarist Robert Fripp claims that the music is telling him to pull the group back together.

Robert Fripp knows it`s time to re-form King Crimson because ... well, the music tells him so. And that, he insists, is all the reason he needs.

"If a musician has a good sense of timing, he can`t really explain to you why he has a good sense of timing," the guitarist explains in a clipped, chipper English accent, like a friendly schoolmaster indulging an earnest but confused pupil. "They just know it`s time. When music appears that only Crimson can play, that`s the time Crimson is going to re-form."

Oh, there was also a phone call that Fripp got back in 1990 from former Crimson guitarist Adrian Belew, which led to a meeting over tea and discussion about rejoining forces -- concrete evidence, to Fripp`s mind, that the music wasn`t just talking to him. "We`ve been coming out of one particular period: Adrian has been doing his solo things, I`m coming out of Guitar Craft," Fripp says, referring to the guitar school he started in 1985. "We seem to he operating synchronously right now. At the same time, there is the music. Which is waiting to get out."

So here it comes. After an almost-ten-year hiatus, Fripp is officially reactivating King Crimson, the seminal English art-rock band that he founded in 1969 and tenaciously piloted through its three acclaimed, main incarnations -- the original Mellotron-drenched version, the blazing heavy-mental combo of `73-`75 and the limber, early-Eighties four-piece with Belew -- as well as several fascinating transitional lineups.

This time around, Fripp has retained Belew and Tony Levin, who plays bass and Stick (a mutant, combined guitar-bass axe), from the last crew, adding drummer Jerry Marotta and Trey Gunn, an alumnus of Guitar Craft who also doubles on the Stick. An introductory EP will be cut in August (Levin is locked into a Peter Gabriel tour until then), with an album after this year and shows in `94. But just based on his formative rehearsals with Marotta and Gunn, Fripp -- who turns forty-seven in May -- gleefully describes the new sound as "Crimson, harder and rockier than you`ve ever heard."

The timing couldn`t be better. The knotty rhythm tricks and abstract riff-shriek of many new punk-metal bands and grunge wanna-be`s are a distinct by-product of the mid-Seventies Crimson`s brainiac bravado. Fripp notes with pride that guitarist Vernon Reid of Living Colour is an avowed fan that lineup, which featured drummer Bill Bruford, bassist John Wetton and violinist David Cross. After Reid told Fripp that one of his favorite Crimson tracks was "The Great Deceiver," from the `74 LP Starless and Bible Black, Fripp included it on the lavish `91 box set Frame by Frame and named a second, more recent box -- a four-CD live bonanza documenting the incendiary stage magic of the Starless-era band -- after it.

"That the guys in Living Colour are all Afro-Americans and Crimson was quintessentially Anglo-honkie is a wonderful irony that would appeal to anyone of the Crimson mind-set," Fripp says, chuckling. But the real ties that bind, he argues, are not just musical: "A new generation of musicians is playing with honesty and commitment and has not yet been led off course by the concerns of the industry. R.E.M., Nirvana, Living Colour -- they sell records, but they`re not making them to have hits."

Nor did Crimson. "The question that came up again and again," Fripp recalls dryly, "was `You want to have a hit record, don`t you?` The answer is that this is the wrong question. The concern of the musician is to play the music. It is there demanding to be given sound to."

The Seventies quartet did that with a vengeance, as The Great Deceiver (released in the U.S. by Caroline Records and culled from more than eight hours of previously unissued concert tapes) vividly testifies. In the set`s opening segment, a stunning June `74 show recorded in Providence, Rhode Island, Crimson willfully shifts gears from spooky, impressionist balladry to assaultive, high-tension raveups, flying without a net in free-improv space for nearly a third of the performance. Indeed, at its most daring, King Crimson had more in common with jazz adventurers like the electric Miles Davis or the Art Ensemble of Chicago than it ever did with nominal art-rock peers like Yes and Genesis.

"If you go back to the band in `69, it was born fully flowered somehow, remarkably powerful," says Fripp. "But if we listen to it today, it probably sounds dated in a way that The Great Deceiver doesn`t. There, you hear the band looking for the moment, and it`s in the moment that it works. Some of the time is negligent; there are bad notes. But as part of the overall, it doesn`t matter."

Fripp -- who is actually a more chatty and amiable interviewee than his studious stage demeanor and cerebral annotation of Frame and Deceiver might suggest -- has had more than Crimson on the brain for the past decade. He`s enrolled about a thousand students worldwide in Guitar Craft since its inception, teaching mostly on acoustic guitar in addition to touring with a master class of sorts, the League of Crafty Guitarists. With his wife, singer Toyah Wilcox, he issued an LP in 1991 under the band name Sunday All Over the World. Add to that two years` worth of arduous, ongoing legal proceedings against his former management company, EG.

Even now, Fripp isn`t just waiting for the new Crimson to put pedal to metal. Three fifths of the new band -- Fripp, Marotta and Gunn -- have recorded an album with David Sylvian that features the former Japan vocalist`s breathy, hypnotic singing over, as Fripp puts it, "a bedrock of very rocking Crimsonesque stuff." Fripp has also been in the studio with Brian Eno, finishing a long-overdue follow-up (a mere eighteen years) to the pair`s Seventies ambient milestones, No Pussy-footing and Evening Star, although he insists the result -- due this fall -- is not just a return to old dreamscapes.

This is "Fripp and Eno with a dance beat," Fripp says. "You have to remember that the last time I worked with Eno, mastering a barre chord on guitar was considered an act of virtuosity for him. Twenty years later, the carrot can actually play things! Eno was actually strapping on a Fender bass and rocking out. The keyboards still have things marked on them, KEYS TO HIT and so on. But the boy is up and bopping."


Recordings -- The First Day by David Sylvian and Robert Fripp 
Lyman Andy. Rolling Stone. New York: Nov 25, 1993., Iss. 670;  pg. 114

There`s a place where art rock becomes effortless and not pretentious, and singer David Sylvian and guitarist Robert Fripp seem to have located it on The First Day.

Two years ago, when King Crimson founder Fripp was contemplating his return to live performing (after several years  teaching his guitarcraft courses), one tantalizing opportunity beckoned: this partnership with ex-Japan (New Wave band)  frontman Sylvian. Fripp fans salivated at the prospect as well as at reports of a tour of Japan (island nation). The results  repay the anticipation.

Fripp was once described as the least-funky white man on the planet. But on Day he and Sylvian churn it out like those other  two white boys, Brian Eno and David Byrne. Not since My Life in the Bush of Ghosts have we heard the funk of Day`s  opening cut, "God`s Monkey."

Fripp primarily works off Trey Gunn, who plays the still-underutilized Stick, taking most of the bass parts. Added to that  mix are Sylvian`s filtered voice and Jerry Marotta`s drums. If there`s a weakness on Day, it`s Sylvian lyrics. They range  from Zenlike ("Two birds/One stone/One chance") to high-school maudlin ("Baby, baby/I hate to go/Don`t leave me alone  with this sorrow"). Still, Sylvian`s voice may have only one color, but it`s like an all-black wardrobe; there are many  shades.

Several tracks, including "20th Century Dreaming," end with Fripp`s trademark system of tape loops and delays. And the  glorious "Bringing Down the Light" is Fripp`s full-scale return to a form he`s long been perfecting.


Billboard. New York: Sep 4, 1993. Vol. 105, Iss. 36; p. 16
Sylvian, Fripp
Get 2nd Chances
With ‘First Day’
BY PAUL SEXTON


LONDON—Two of the most unpredictable and unfettered musicians in the English rock firmament have united for an album that represents a catharsis for each of them.
Robert Fripp, founding father of experimental rock giant King Crimson, had spent many traumatic months locked in legal battle with his former management company. David Sylvian, leader of early-`80s synthesizer band Japan, had endured several years of creative cramps that lowered his already low profile practically underground. Both now are rejoicing in the emotional release that is their new Virgin album, "The First Day," which was released Aug. 10 in the U.S.
The success of the collaboration, which already has been a top 30 record in the U.K., has prompted the pair to perform a series of concerts titled the "Road To Graceland `93" tour, with dates in selected major U.S. cities in the fall, and Japanese and European shows to follow. The set has even brought forth something of a domestic airplay hit, with the track "Jean, The Birdman" now out as a British single.
In the U.S., Virgin is working "God`s Monkey" to alternative and album-alternative formats, but simultaneously is pushing the "Jean, The Birdman" video at MTV. "It`s a unique situation," says Virgin director of artist development Margie Cheskey. "We decided it would be easier to get `God`s Monkey` played on the radio. We want to get a lot of new fans." The label also is servicing a 15-track retrospective sampler of Sylvian`s career to radio, including NPR. "We want people to get a full history of David," she says. "Plus, of course, we`re trying to sell the catalog that we have."
Fripp also is in the process of reconvening King Crimson, with the lineup of Adrian Belew, Tony Levin, Jerry Marotta, and Trey Gunn (who also plays on "The First Day"). Although he`s had his hand in several recent projects, Fripp calls "The First Day" "my first major piece of work since 1984, when King Crimson completed its last campaign in the marketplace." Fripp spent much of the interim teaching students of his Guitar Craft school and engaging in protracted wrangles with EG Management, which continue. Then he and Sylvian began working together in the spring of `92, and, he says, "life came back."
Fripp and Sylvian previously had worked on the letter`s 1986 album, "Gone To Earth." "Toward the end of `91, I got an offer from Japan [the country] for a brief tour there," Sylvian says. "I wasn`t interested at the time, but I mentioned it in passing to Robert, and he said, `Let`s use that, let`s take on that tour together, so that it could help us focus our writing, we`d write specifically for the tour."
The album grew from those live dates, and demonstrates the happy marriage of Sylvian`s distinctive vocals and enigmatic lyrics with Fripp`s unique guitar stylings. "It`s possibly angrier than anything I`ve done," says Sylvian, "because I went through a very difficult four-year period in my life. I can only describe it as a sort of mental and spiritual crisis. The album was something of a cathartic experience, and I hope that`s now inherent in the piece as a whole." Another reason for Sylvian`s creative salvation was his marriage to Paisley Park recording artist Ingrid Chavez, who is expecting their child later this month.
Sylvian also has conducted an extensive U.S. press and retail tour to build on an earlier press visit by Fripp. "Jean, The Birdman" will be Virgin`s second emphasis track at radio, and Cheskey says the label has not ruled out some pop attention. "The way top 40 radio is going, leaning so alternative, you never know."


Guitar Player. San Francisco: Nov 1993. Vol. 27, Iss. 11; p. 111
David Sylvian
& Robert Fripp
The First Day
Although Fripp`s solo work is often exemplary, he produces his best performances when he collaborates with someone who can contribute strong, contrasting ideas. David Sylvian`s ethno-funk provides the ideal foil for Fripp`s electronic explorations, resulting in a record that is often reminiscent of the musicians` finer efforts with Japan and King Crimson respectively. With layered guitar textures ranging from violin-like solo lines to buzzy, distorted power chords to metallic, percussive rhythms, Fripp and Sylvian have produced an album that is heavily laden with guitar but sounds unlike most guitar-dominated records. Stick player Trey Gunn supports the music with synth-like sustained chords and agile bass lines. A highly satisfying listening experience. Virgin.      — CG


Anonymous. Billboard. New York: Jul 13, 1991. Vol. 103, Iss. 28; p. 76
ROBERT FRIPP & THE LEAGUE Of CRAFTY
GUITARISTS
Show Of Hands
PRODUCER: Robert Fripp Editions EG 2102
Former King Crimson axeman unleashes his army of 17 fretsters for another largely instrumental forced march. Layered guitar pieces of varying durations, sometimes augmented by viola, are complemented by a cappella vocals by Patricia Leavitt. Curious record will largely appeal to Fripp loyalists and fringe modern rock and public radio outlets.


CD reviews -- The First Day by David Sylvian and Robert Fripp
Andrews, Jon. Down Beat. Chicago: Jan 1994.Vol.61, Iss. 1;  pg. 43, 1 pgs


THE FIRST DAY--VIRGIN 0777 7 88208 2 6: GOD`S MONKEY; JEAN THE BIRDMAN; FIREPOWER; BRIGHTNESS FALLS; 20TH CENTURY DREAMING; DARSHAN; BRINGING DOWN
THE LIGHT. (63:30)

Personnel: Sylvian, vocals, guitar, keyboards: Fripp, guitar; Trey Gunn, Chapman stick, vocals; David Bottrill, sampled percussion, programming; Jerry Marotta, drums, percussion; Marc Anderson, percussion; Ingrid Chavez, vocals.

Armed with an electric guitar, Robert Fripp can be a malevolent force, capable of inflicting crushing power chords or relentless, convulsed solos. Fripp has subordinated these facets of his persona in recent years, preferring "Frippertronic" guitar loops or his acoustic League of Crafty Guitarists over rock music as vehicles for improvisation. Even in the last edition of Fripp`s King Crimson, the guitarist usually played rhythm, shunning the limelight in favor of singer/guitarist Adrian Belew.

The First Day rocks hard and mean, offering sustained Fripp lead guitar in a context rarely heard since his mid-`70s King Crimson incarnation. At first glance, David Sylvian`s introspection seems like a mismatch for Fripp`s intemperance. Since disbanding the Roxy Music-influenced group Japan, Sylvian has generated moody, meditative solo work, with oblique, mystical lyrics. The collaboration works, as Fripp pushes Sylvian to extend his vocal range. Sylvian helps craft appropriate tunes, and encourages Fripp to play like Fripp.

After "God`s Monkey" and "Jean The Birdman," concise, hook-filled tunes featuring Sylvian, Fripp dominates the project. "Firepower" and "20th Century Dreaming" surround Sylvian`s brooding vocals with brutish guitar chords before giving way to extended instrumental vamps, centered on Trey Gunn`s vibrant Chapman stick. These vamps support Fripp`s twisting solos and Sylvian`s atmospheric electronics, though at greater than necessary length. Fripp`s leads quote vintage Crimson as well as Jimi Hendrix. "Darshan" exhaustively explores a 17-minute funk riff. Somewhat reminiscent of Pangaea-era Miles, it`s the most successful use of dance music either Fripp or Sylvian has achieved. Fripp launches solos from these repetitive rhythm beds, much as he would use Frippertronics or the League of Crafty Guitarists. The tactic diminishes the power of Fripp`s playing somewhat by eliminating any catharsis. But that`s quibbling.

Fun in the car and ideal for tormenting neighbors, The First Day will serve as a high-quality Fripp fix until the next King Crimson revival.


Bill Bruford: A Different Drummer
By Pam Lambert.
Wall Street Journal. (Eastern edition). New York, N.Y.: Aug 5, 1987. pg. 1


New York -- "I`m not really a blood-and-guts drummer," says Bill Bruford between bites of coffee-shop carrot cake. "There`s nothing wrong with power, and there`s nothing wrong with aggression from the bandstand, but I think what is attractive is control."

Over two decades and 30 albums, control has been a hallmark of the style that`s made the British drummer one of the world`s most respected. But through the years his career has also been a search for control of another sort -- control of his talent and the way it would be employed.

This quest, coupled with an insatiable appetite for exploration, has taken Bruford from mammoth arenas and the biggest of rock bands, Yes and Genesis, to jazz gigs in the most intimate of clubs. He`s gone from testing the possibilities of electronic percussion with the experimental ensemble King Crimson to recording as half of an acoustic duo. And as the possibilities for a drummer within rock have shrunk -- the 4/4 beat rules the airwaves and most drumming on pop records is done by machines -- Bruford has been turning more and more to jazz.

"I consider myself fortunate that I was trying to start a career at a time when you could really be quite musical; it was like a little cottage industry," says the 38-year-old Bruford. He`s talking about the halcyon days just after Sgt. Pepper came out, when he and the rest of Yes challenged notions of pop songwriting with intricate, extended arrangements and odd meters on such art-rock albums as "Fragile" and "Close to the Edge."

"Today," he says, "the rock record is a kind of sonic marketing exercise that is very, very clever but doesn`t really involve us players. It has more to do with consultants and record-company bosses.

"The one thing that is still left, really, is a reactive kind of music. What a computer can`t do is react spontaneously to something that it`s just heard, which is what a jazz musician can do. It`s not possible in pop. The nature of pop is the song, and songs need a fairly smooth carpet on which to sit."

So Bruford is now leading an electronic, improvisational British jazz quartet called Earthworks. (Any suggestion of groundbreaking is strictly intentional.) For the past few weeks the group has been on a hectic, low-budget U.S. club tour to promote its self-titled debut album (Editions EG). The release ("recorded in the time it took King Crimson to set up their gear") has been received warmly on both sides of the Atlantic.

Bruford recognizes that his course goes against the flow -- from big bucks to trying to break even, from rock to jazz (any movement is usually in the opposite direction, as jazz players chase the rock dollar). But he`s been a different drummer throughout his career. Just deciding to be a drummer was a fairly offbeat career goal in Britain, which he describes as "one of the world`s most determinedly unrhythmic nations." As a 14-year-old at boarding school in his native Kent, he recalls the head of the music department tut-tutting, "What a pity you`re not going to play a real instrument."

A few years later, in 1968, Bruford and a bunch of musicians he met through an ad in Melody Maker formed a band. Its name was Yes. "The only rule," Bruford says, "was if we sounded like anybody else it was no good."

Yes didn`t, and neither did its drummer. In contrast to the group`s grandiose vocal and keyboard harmonies, his syncopated parts were spare, minimalist. Yet they commanded attention. Unlike most pop drummers, Bruford was rarely playing beat. He also had an individual sound, particularly a distinctive ringing snare (he fell into it because of a weak left-stick grip, which led him to hit the drum near the rim to be better heard). Bruford`s parts were independent, yet integral.

After six albums, Bruford left Yes for King Crimson, the innovative unit led by guitarist/theoretician Robert Fripp. "Yes was all sunny and light, vocal harmony and very pleasant, but for a drummer it was like supporting a singer," Bruford explains, "whereas King Crimson was the minor-key group, the one that had the ability to extend, to improvise -- the band where the men were really men."

When Fripp disbanded King Crimson three years later, the drummer signed on with Genesis. But Bruford quickly discovered he wasn`t a "pay-and-play musician," someone content just to execute what others had written. Within a year he formed his own progressive band, called Bruford, which recorded three albums primarily of his music. Even so, Bruford was a team player. During a typical concert by the ensemble, he took only a single, eight-bar solo.

In 1981, Fripp regrouped King Crimson to explore the new technology of the day, guitar synthesizers and electronic percussion. The latter allowed a percussionist to produce programmed tuned pitches. This was a breakthrough. It enabled a drummer to play melodic and harmonic lines -- and to play a full role in the musical enterprise, something Bruford had strived to do throughout his career.

Exciting as this was conceptually, technically the infant electronic drum kit was "a brute." The instrument wouldn`t hold its pitch. And in concert, the lighting triggered tremendous buzzes from it. As a result, when Fripp dissolved King Crimson again in 1984, Bruford took a sabbatical from electronics and formed an acoustic duo with keyboard player Patrick Moraz. "I wanted to remember what I enjoyed about drumming in the first place and wait for the technology to catch up."

By last year, he thought it had. Bruford was excited by the capabilities of the new Simmons drums: When the player strikes one of 12 hexagonally shaped pads he can trigger any sound stored on programmable memory chips in the instrument`s "brain" (hand or foot switches control which effect is called up). The sounds triggered can be anything from textured polytonal chords to shattering glass.

Bruford was also excited by the explosive British jazz scene, which he calls "punk with notes." He says young musicians who a decade ago might have turned toward punk are instead, with equal rebelliousness, blowing jazz. Their sound is raw, personal -- everything the slick corporate pop being fabricated by British studio wizards like Trevor Horn is not.

From these young Turks, Bruford recruited acoustic bass player Mick Hutton, saxophonist Iain Ballamy, and keyboard and brass player Django Bates. The latter two came from the irreverent jazz orchestra Loose Tubes, which Bruford calls "the Sex Pistols of big bands."

The result is Earthworks. As evident on the group`s impressive debut, it mixes up styles, moods and meters as effortlessly as it ignores musical boundaries. There`s everything from a film-noir ballad to hard-blowing bop, from mysterious synthesizer-processed burbles to naked sax. And through it all, making like Max Roach here, painting electronic colors there, is Bill Bruford. In control.


Crimson tide -- The Great Deceiver by King Crimson
Andrews, Jon. Down Beat. Chicago: Mar 1993.Vol.60, Iss. 3;  pg. 36, 1 pgs

If you are a hard-core devotee of King Crimson (a "Crimhead," according to guitarist Robert Fripp), you must own The Great Deceiver (Live 1973-1974) (Discipline/Caroline Carol 1597-2; 76:43/67:04/74:58/76:41: (characters omitted)), a four-CD compilation of fierce concert performances. The rest of us need, and get, something more than a souvenir of 20-year-old concerts. An archival package prompts three questions: is the music worth salvaging, does it sound dated, and is the recording quality acceptable?

This version of Crimson played with driven intensity and dark fury. In a time of "smiley" buttons, this band did not wish anybody a happy day. Fripp`s "type-A" guitar was the focal point. Instantly recognizable, Fripp attacked with the speed and precision of a striking rattlesnake. The success of a King Crimson date was inevitably tied to the quality and quantity of Fripp`s guitar. In concert, the songs became vehicles for reconstructions and experiments. Great Deceiver fascinates because it delivers extended "blows," free-form improvisations, and reworkings of familiar material. The improvs can settle into crunching, ominous grooves or drift out to the final frontier. Unless you were in attendance, you haven`t heard anything quite like it.

While evolving from chamber-rock quartet to apocalyptic power trio, King Crimson matured into a high-energy, improvising ensemble encompassing rock rhythms, Hendrix-inspired guitar, and classical sensibilities. (Arguably, the Mahavishnu Orchestra arrived at the same place from a different direction.) Crimson`s improvs and instrumentals have better staying power than their songs. Compositions like "Lark`s Tongue in Aspic, Parts 1 And 2," and "Fracture" are revitalized by the band`s reworking and improvising. The band has less enthusiasm for the songs, and John Wetton`s vocals and (violinist) David Cross` keyboard mellotron distinctly predate "New Wave." Only Crimheads need to compare multiple versions of "Easy Money" and "Exiles." Anyone equipped with a programmable CD-player (and a personality) can easily skip the redundancies in the set.

Great Deceiver presents one complete concert with excerpts from three others, recorded for Fripp`s library over an 18-month span. (Crimson came in from the road only long enough to record three studio albums: Lark`s Tongue In Aspic, Starless And Bible Black, and Red.) The sound is startlingly clear, if imperfect Fripp`s guitar is tense and nasty; Wetton`s bass has a deep, remorseless boom; and Bill Bruford, recently liberated from Yes, sounds hyperactive on drums and percussion.

The packaging is first-rate, including Fripp`s copious, entertaining liner notes. Fripp rails against business aspects of his trade, and cautions young musicians, "Only become a professional musician if there is no choice."

 



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