INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
The Wire DECEMBER 2007 - by Rob Young
FRIPP & ENO: BEYOND EVEN (1992-2006)
Fripp & Eno's pair of 1970s collaborations, No Pussyfooting and Evening Star, are rightly celebrated as experimental - incrementally moving away from the rock group model towards what Fripp would eventually call a 'small, mobile, intelligent unit' involving guitar and tape loops. Like a couple of swirling comets, they have roamed other galaxies separately but their orbits have continued to intersect to the present day, and as 2004's surprise comeback The Equatorial Stars proved, this reignition is more than just a rehash or an empty workout.
Beyond Even grabs a selection of cuts from a fourteen year period, some of it sketchy (Sneering Loop, Dirt Loop), some concentrated atmospherics (Tripoli 2020, Deep Indian Long); all of it offering titillating scraps from an ongoing private conversation. Today's digital presets easily achieve what the duo once strove to attain through Frippertronic hard graft. There are plenty of reminders that, while Eno's left it to more iconoclastic others to front up and spearhead the digital revolution in self-produced music in the last fifteen years, he's been an avid consumer and innovator of electronica in his own right. While there may be nothing like the instantly recognisable signatures of, say, Fennesz, Aphex or Markus Popp here, there's no doubting Eno's mastery of his tools and his eager adoption of contemporary beats.
The Idea Of Decline seems to date from a similar time-frame as Eno's loose-limbed trip-hop album The Drop, and if the digitised chimes of Glass Structure sound a little dated, at least the icicle-crisp fretwork of Timean Sparkles and Hopeful Timean should give encouragement to shareholders in the Heavenly Music Corporation. The final track, Cross Crisis In Lust Storm, is apparently believed to be one of Fripp's finest performances. For sure, it's a sampler of his snaky solos, fidgety fills and textural acrobatics, and the whole is mastered considerably higher than the rest of the album, as if to show it off like a jewel on black velvet.