Brian Eno is MORE DARK THAN SHARK
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"Craft is what enables you to be successful
when you're not inspired." - Brian Eno

The Courier-Journal JULY 31, 2004 - by James Bickers

FRIPP & ENO: THE EQUATORIAL STARS

Reunion of Fripp, Eno generates little of note

In the 1970s, Robert Fripp and Brian Eno combined their individually unique sounds to create a third beast that sounded like neither of them.

Fripp's mathematical work in King Crimson was the pinnacle of rigorous prog complexity, while Eno's roots lay in the ultra-romantic bliss of Roxy Music. But together as Fripp & Eno, they have crafted ambient, loop-based music that has been imitated and emulated a ridiculous number of times.

On 1975's No Pussyfooting, they invented the idea of constructive repetition as a song structure - tape decks that feed back upon themselves, sounds piling up under their collective weight. And both men explored these ideas on subsequent solo records, particularly Fripp - it was from this seed that his celebrated guitar sound/style, Frippertronics, was born.

It has been almost 30 years since their last major collaboration (Evening Star), and so The Equatorial Stars is highly anticipated by those who dig this kind of arty new-age music (back in the day before those words became Capitalized and turned into a section in the record store).

It will satisfy the true believers, and leave everyone else wondering what all the fuss is about.

To call the album spacious is an understatement - it is often barely there. Instrumentation is wispy, ethereal, and so subdued it strains the ears at times. That is, if one is trying to pay careful attention and discern what is going on, which is probably not the best way to use this record. This is music as tweaker of the subconscious, an aural back rub.

And a really nice back rub at that. The trouble is that there is simply so much music today that fits that description, and nothing much about The Equatorial Stars causes it to stand out.

These are late-night musical meanderings, the kind that any of us might produce if we plugged instrument into recorder, closed our eyes and let things flow. There is nothing particularly magical here, nothing that will explain to a newcomer who Fripp and Eno are or why they matter so much, and certainly no compositional genius to scrutinize.

The album is of interest only because of who the two men are behind the scenes. It is only because of their previous work that this journey into their heads is worth taking.


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