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Fripp and Eno: Audio Paintings Come Live in Paris 1975

Mark Smotroff trips out on legendary live Fripp / Eno officially released, restored


If this rare concert recording of Robert Fripp and Brian Eno from 1975 happens to be your first exposure to this duo’s pioneering work, I strongly urge you to start with Disc 3 of the set to first immerse yourself in the direct-to-tape feel of these pioneering backing tracks which formed the basis for the live shows. They are mesmerizing in their own right.

Yes, you read the correctly. Fripp and Eno had pre-recorded a selection of varying sonic textures — looped sequences — made using guitars, effects and a Revox two-track tape recording machine.  Then, they performed to those tracks live in concert, Eno manipulating the tape loops as Fripp improvised on top of the playback, on-the-fly before an audience.

These backing tracks for this short lived 1975 concert tour — as documented on the new three CD set Fripp and Eno Live In Paris 28.05.1975 — are beautiful in their own right and important to appreciate, especially as you explore the other two CDs which feature the newly remixed, restored and re-invented, never-before-officially-released-but-frequently-bootlegged concert recordings by the duo.

So what has been accomplished — thanks to the painstaking work of producers Alex Mundy and David Singleton — is these newly re-discovered, full fidelity stereo backing tracks have been synchronized with the best of the bootleg recordings (it was never officially recorded) to create a genuine snapshot of the performance that is wholly more listenable and enjoyable than any before.  

This is no mere mashup. Fripp and Eno Live In Paris 28.05.1975 is a lovely hybrid which for the first time presents this music in a manner that is as pretty much as sonically satisfying as the official studio releases.

There are of course several ways to approach this music. You can certainly just put it on and experience the concert for all its worth, blasting it at full volume (you know you want to, go for it). Or you might prefer to listen quietly, late at night at a very low volume so as to not disturb the neighbors, taking in how the music blends in with your own personal living space.

Whatever you decide to do, I do recommend that at some point you try the more surgical approach I mentioned at the start of this review, exploring Disc #3 to experience the from-Eno’s-mixing-board master loop backing tracks which became the aural drop cloth for the live improvisations.

Its a bit like listening to a Jackson Pollack painting, beginning with the first blobs, globs and smears of passionate paint. You start at the root before the artists added one-time-only sound layers in live performance.

This way it is somewhat easier to appreciate the scope of the wall of sound that the duo created for this concert — one of only a handful of shows that were conducted back in the day — an aural universe of free flowing sound that is almost free of the constraints of time and rhythm. This is music which helped to change the face of modern music as we know it.

It perhaps terrorized some closed minded listeners especially those expecting to hear hits from Fripp’s band King Crimson or tracks from Eno’s more rock oriented solo albums.

The music on Fripp and Eno Live In Paris 28.05.1975 is indeed all very haunting and beautiful once you submit to the hypnotic, slowly evolving patterns you’ll discover a sonic soufflé to mesmerize the inner ear and mind.  

Like ocean tides, it ebbs and flows from softly beautiful to angered dissonance and back to blissful calm.

]]>AR-Fripp&EnoParisCDtray#3.jpgConsider Fripp and Eno Live In Paris 28.05.1975 a love letter lost in the mail from the dawn of ambient music, a place where random “found” spoken words intertwine with music.  Listen as still-spectacularly unusual sounds unfold as Eno — acting almost like  a DJ — mixes in new loops which form the base for Fripp’s gorgeously controlled, warmly distorted and gloriously emotive Les Paul soloing.Consider that just a few years later David Bowie would bring Fripp and Eno to Berlin, extrapolating these sounds into his more pop-driven palate resulting in the quartet of influential releases including Low, Heroes, Lodger and Scary Monsters.Reconsider Bowie’s classic hit single “Heroes” (co written with Eno and featuring Fripp on guitar) to fully appreciate how these sounds were introduced to the mainstream. Eno would explore more of these ideas on his landmark solo recordings such as Another Green World and Before and After Science (and his subsequent Ambient series for that matter). As a producer for bands like Talking Heads and U2, Eno helped expand their sound beyond the confines of rock and roll tradition form using some of these ideas and textures.  In 1978 Fripp would release his landmark first solo album, Exposure as well as productions for Daryl Hall and Peter Gabriel all of which employ similar sound textures. Fripp also released several albums of pure “Frippertronics” capped in 1981 by a new incarnation of his band King Crimson which continued exploring many of these ideas into the new Millennium.AR-FrippEnoParisCDRearInnerCover.jpgIt’s all rather beautiful and moody and taken as a whole quite wonderful. I used to drive my roommates in college a bit batty cranking Frippertronics recordings late at night as white noise to study by to while they were loudly partying in an adjoining room.Its not everyone’s cuppa tea for sure, but for those of us who like this sort of exploratory, hallucinatory sound, music without formalized borders and beats, it can be a revelation.Hearing this music restored, Fripp and Eno Live In Paris 28.05.1975 reveals itself to be a powerful musical watershed for the ages.Mark Smotroff is a freelance writer and avid music collector who has worked for many years in marketing communications for the consumer electronics, pro audio and video games industries, serving clients including DTS, Sega, Sony, Sharp, AT&T and many others. www.smotroff.com Mark has written for EQ Magazine, Mix Magazine, Goldmine/DISCoveries Magazine, BigPictureBigSound.com, Sound+Vision Magazine, HomeTechTell.com and many others. He is also a musician / composer whose songs have been used in TV shows such as Smallville and Men In Trees as well as films and documentaries. www.ingdom.com Mark is currently rolling out a new musical he’s written: www.dialthemusical.com.

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