Roadrunner SEPTEMBER 1979 - by Span


Robert Fripp, who started life in the industry with the infamous King Crimson, has dabbled in so many strange musical alliances in past few years that I was lost for a conception of what this record would be like. Inevitably, it would be 'different'; that much I gathered when I saw his photo on the album cover, suited (with just the right amount of disarray), shorthaired, shaven. I knew I'd seen the face before somewhere, and later it struck me where: about three months ago in New Musical Express, except that then the photo belonged to Mike Oldfield, and he'd just gone through one of the Erhardt Seminar Training programs.

The liner notes say this album was originally conceived as the third element of a trilogy whose first two members were Daryl Hall's Sacred Songs and Peter Gabriel's second album, with both of which Fripp had more than a little to do. (Both of these people are among the contributors on Exposure, along with Phil Collins, Peter Hammill, the inevitable Brian Eno, and Terre Roche, among others). Now it is to be the first of a trilogy by Fripp himself, the other two (Frippertronics and Discotronics) to follow soon. September of this year, he promises for the first.

Meanwhile I attempt to make sense of this one.

The record contains seventeen tracks, all of them necessarily short, but individually they stand up as opuses - this is one of those records where there is so much deliberation and consciousness in the performance that subjective time goes far astray from the time stipulated on the label. Against this, a further sense of disorientation sets in through the arrangement of tracks. Short 'Frippertronical' instrumentals intersperse with crazed, patchwork songs. The inevitable has happened; Fripp returns to his roots, just as he did when he disbanded KC in its orchestral form ('The old world is coming to an end, and all the attributes of the new world will be small, mobile, self-sufficient units') and brought out the astonishing sequence of albums beginning with Larks' Tongues In Aspic.

The strange pop song, You Burn Me Up I'm A Cigarette is set against the Red reminiscent Breathless, the gentle lyrical prettiness of Mary stands against the confused gabble of NY3, whose lyrics are buried beneath a morass of furious instrumental pummelling. Peter Gabriel's Here Comes the Flood is sandwiched between the Fripp/Eno style Water Music I and II. And all through the album, scattered in the most unlikely places, are curious snatches of conversation, speech, utterances.

In some ways, I suspect that further replaying of the album will reveal that it is in fact a curious statement on the music industry, presented in a classical riddle form. If nothing else, the record gives me the impression that everything Fripp is doing now is a joke, a deliberate joke. I muse on this as the record turns, and then comes the last track, Postscript, in which Fripp says, against a cafe or coffee lounge background, "So the whole story is completely untrue? A big hoax."

Did I forget something?

Oh yeah. I like the record immensely.