Thursday, April 14, 2016

Robert Fripp & Brian Eno - 1994 "The Essential Fripp & Eno"

This compilation of the recorded collaborations between guitarist Robert Fripp and producer/conceptualist/musician Brian Eno is taken from two album-length recordings made for the Island subsidiary Antilles in 1974 and 1975, No Pussyfooting and Evening Star, with an unreleased 1979 session added on. "The Heavenly Music Corporation" and "Swastika Girls," totaling 39 minutes, make up the whole of No Pussyfooting. Both of these pieces are slowly evolving reel-to-reel tape experiences that are hypnotic and remain revelatory decades later. "Wind on Water" and "Evening Star" account for half of the latter album's first side; they are easily the two most beautiful and "melodic" cuts issued by the pair. The remaining 22 minutes are the previously unissued, four-part "Healthy Colours." These cuts are radically different from their predecessors -- they're more rhythmic, employing digital drum loops, a plethora of dynamic samples, and a wider array of sound effects and treatments. They also point at future projects: Eno's collaboration with David Byrne on My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, and King Crimson's reunion album, Discipline, thereby making them compelling listens, while the earlier material is still essential listening decades after its initial release.

"The first two tracks of this release are the complete "No Pussyfooting", which I have reviewed in its section for this web page. The following two tracks are taken from "Evening Star"; the final four tracks--Healthy Colours 1-4--are available only with this release. So put simply, this CD replaces "No Pussyfooting", but the rest of "Evening Star" is, I believe, still quite essential.

"All of that out of the way, I would refer the reader to my review of "No Pussyfooting" and add my comments on "Healthy Colours": This suite of tracks is certainly worth owning, but don't expect to find classic Fripp-Eno. The tracks are far more similar to the Eno-Byrne release, "My Life With Ghosts." An electronic rhythm sequence is played (very obviously by Eno) and over that we hear broadcasts from American talk-radio programs and the occassionally quirky guitar line from Mr. Fripp. All of this is, to my ears, more interesting than a description can possibly convey. Overall, if not classic Eno-Fripp, these tracks make for a nice addition to recorded careers of these two fine artists." 

This compilation includes ALL of the milestone (both tracks complete/unedited from the) 1973 No Pussyfooting album, the seminal ambient/non-ambient recording with guitar and loops, as well as 2 cuts from the 2nd album Evening Star. YOU REALLY SHOULD OWN BOTH OF THESE ALBUMS COMPLETE, ABSOLUTELY - SO GET EVENING STAR AS A SEPARATE RELEASE WELL!
But MOST IMPORTANT of all ON THIS DISC, there is the previously unreleased 20 minutes of workup material for the never finished 3rd (circa 1978) Fripp & Eno album. "Healthy Colors I", "...II", "...III", and "...IV" are actually a precursor to the direction of material (avant funk grooves with found vocals), project that finally ended up as Brian Eno/David Byrne's My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts. The work with Fripp was abandoned, and the direction that Eno wanted to work in found was continued with Byrne, with whom he was a closer collaborator during that period.
An absolutely hilarious radio talk show host is superimposed over this terrain, which is complete with Fripp doing elephant roars on his guitar much before he worked with Belew! In an '80s audience Q&A, Fripp even answered a "when's the 3rd album [of Fripp & Eno] gonna come out?" question with "It's out already - My Life in The Bush Of Ghosts!" (which is why he has an arrangement credit on it, for the one cut that mutated out of Healthy Colours)
Essentially a 5 minute experiment, with each subsequent 5 minute segment [parts II, III, and IV) being subsequent passes with more and more layers added on top.
UNFORTUNATELY, the booklet that comes with this DOESN"T have any explanatory information, and thus the average owner of this item thinks it's some schlock that Virgin tossed together in the 90s, a late entrant in the trend started more than a decade previously by the milestone Bush Of Ghosts recording. NO! THIS is the work THAT caused that project to come into existence! [and BTW, I had a tape of this in '79 from friends in EG Management, as did others close to Eno]
And, of course, it is of a completely different direction - and listening 'head' - than the first two albums, so it is understandable that is a jarring upset when the other material that preceeds it has blsiised you out..

The musical experiments of King Crimson guitarist/founder Robert Fripp and electronic music pioneer/former Roxy Music member Brian Eno were definitely groundbreaking when they were released in the early to mid '70s. The pair released two albums, 1973's "No Pussyfooting" and 1975's "Evening Star", which paved the way for ambient and so-called 'new age' music.
With the 1994 compilation "The Essential Fripp and Eno", we are offered an excellent sampling of the noise that these two musicians made so long ago. The compilation includes the "No Pussyfooting" album in its entirety plus two tracks from "Evening Star" and the previously unreleased "Healthy Colours Parts 1-4" which was recorded in 1978.
"No Pussyfooting's" "The Heavenly Music Corporation" and "Swastika Girls" consist mostly of Robert Fripp performing fluid sustained guitar lines which are manipulated by Brian Eno using tape machines and a primitive synthesizer. It's beautiful and frantic at the same time.
"Wind on Water" and the title track from "Evening Star" have a more quieter surreal mood to them. "Evening Star" in particular has beautiful melodic parts with simplistic piano and guitar lines.
The unreleased "Healthy Colours" suite is quite different from the previous music made by the duo. Each of the four sections consist of repeated rhythm guitar patterns, a bouncy elementary synthesizer line and various tapeloops of speech all set to a primitive drum machine. This music is quite minimalistic and dry-sounding.
All together, "The Essential Fripp and Eno" covers the basics of what Robert Fripp and Brian Eno did as a musical force. Since they only released two albums together, I personally think that releasing this as a 2-disc set with "Healthy Colours" tacked onto the end would have been a better idea (The lenghty "Index of Metals" from "Evening Star" is an essential piece in my opinion). However, I have no complaints with the way this compilation is put together. The sound quality is stellar on this CD and so is the music. Here's hoping that Robert and Brian will reunite for something new real soon.

 Tracks Listing

1. The Heavenly Music Corporation (20:59)
2. Swastika Girls (18:38)
3. Wind on Water (5:29)
4. Evening Star (7:48)
5. Healthy Colours I (5:36)
6. Healthy Colours II (5:39)
7. Healthy Colours III (5:35)
8. Healthy Colours IV (5:35)

Total Time: 75:19

Line-up / Musicians

- Robert Fripp / guitar
- Brian Eno / electronics



  2. Muy buen disco, que lastima que no tienes para compartir