Monday, July 4, 2016

Andy Summers & Robert Fripp - 1982 "I Advance Masked"

I Advance Masked is a 1982 album by English guitarists Andy Summers and Robert Fripp. It is the pair's first of two album collaborations (Bewitched would follow in 1984), and it consists of 13 instrumental tracks. According to Summers, the album was "a synthesis of two guys who grew up playing guitar, heard the Beatles, listened to jazz, have been influenced by Oriental music and Steve Reich, but still happen to be playing in a rock context. Every track started the same way, just two guitars. On some of them I played a little bass or put on a bit of percussion or string synthesizer. There are no drums but you don't miss them. Some of it is very accessible and some is very avant-garde".[1] The title track was released as a single with Hardy Country on the flip side.

Many a guitar fan would have predicted that a summit between legendary guitarists Andy Summers (the Police) and Robert Fripp (King Crimson) would result in a guitar solofest. But the music on their first collaboration together, I Advance Masked, stresses guitar textures and moods over indulgent soloing. Although the recording sessions weren't entirely enjoyable for Summers (who was experiencing marital problems at the time), some very beautiful music can be found on the resulting album. The music for the track "Girl on a Swing" does an excellent job of conveying the song's title in one's mind, and the duo's guitars weave wonderful polyrhythmic guitar lines throughout "China -- Yellow Leader." "The Truth of Skies" is an atmospheric piece, created by a wash of keyboard sounds and guitar dissonance, while "New Marimba" would have sounded right at home on an early-'80s King Crimson album. I Advance Masked has a dreamlike quality to it, and is definitely not typical rock music. It's highly recommended to fans of these two great and original guitarists. 

The Police guitarist, one of the great six-string stylists in rock, met up with another in his first extra-Police outing, this 1982 A&M album. The King Crimson legend and Andy effortlessly shift from challenging polyrhythms to shimmering tapestries as they perform Girl on a Swing; Painting and Dance; The Truth of Skies , and more!

Often overlooked, and most likely underrated, I Advance Masked is a true synergy of guitar duets. Far superior to its follow-up Bewitched, which was a bit overproduced and relied more on guitar synths--not that that's a bad thing, but in this context, the approach used on I Advance Masked was more effective. This recording shows Summers and Fripp truly inspired, brimming with ideas, and remarkably synchronized mentally as well as musically. My preferred track from this set is "Hardy Country," which I never tire of hearing. 

I have had three experiences in my life where I felt that I had "discovered" music. The first was hearing J. S. Bach as a small child. The second was Steve Reich's "6 Marimbas" and "18 Musicians". The third was Andy Summers/Robert Fripp's "I Advance Masked". Yep, it's that good. The two aspects most noticeable in this guitar tour de force are 1)the synergistic contrapuntal dynamic that is the true conversation between these highly philosophical musicians, and 2) Fripp's unmatched capacity for playing "any note, as long as it is the right one". His leads on "In the Cloud Forest" and "Girl On a Swing" are nothing short of brilliant. Summers' splashes of color go a long way here, as they always do. Not only should any fan of Fripp own this album, but also any guitar lover who wishes to expand his horizons a bit. This is an album that, rather than typify the current paradigm, defines the next.

As you'd expect from the guitarists from King Crimson and The Police, "I Advance Masked" sounds like a collison of instrumentals that both bands recorded (particularly the 80's version of King Crimson with Adrian Belew, Tony Levin and Bill Brufford aiding and abetting Fripp). Released in 1982, there are elements of Fripp and Summer's approach with their popular bands sprinkled throughout the music.

The polyrhythmic structured style of playing that Summers used in The Police provides a perfect backdrop for Fripp's rapid fire deliver. The result is an album heavy on atmospheric guitar textures. There's plenty of melodic material as well such as the beautiful and evocative "Girl on a Swing" and "Lakeland". The slightly off center, askew funhouse melodies take this far out of Windham Hill territory.

Fans who enjoyed some of Summer's instrumental pieces (and b-sides for singles)that he recorded with The Police as well as on his own solo albums and Fripp's textured playing on tracks such as "Matte Kundasi", "The Sheltering Sky" from King Crimson's "Discipline" will enjoy this album. Keep in mind that there are no vocals and the principle instruments are guitars (although Summers and Fripp also play bass, various sythesizers and various percussion instruments to fill out the sound on the album)and you'll enjoy this unusual album. The duo would collaborated on a follow up album "Bewitched" which is equally as fascinating and melodic although I personally think that album sounds a bit more like Summers and less like Fripp in terms of the compositions.

Tracks Listing

1. I Advance Masked (5:12)
2. Under Bridges of Silence (1:42)
3. China - Yellow Leader (7:09)
4. In The Cloud Forest (2:30)
5. New Marimba (3:38)
6. Girl On A Swing (2:04)
7. Hardy Country (3:02)
8. The Truth of Skies (2:06)
9. Painting and Dance (3:25)
10. Still Point (3:07)
11. Lakeland / Aquarelle (1:43)
12. Seven On Seven (1:37)
13. Stultified (1:28)

Total Time 38:46


    Robert Fripp – electric guitars, Moog and Roland synthesizers, Roland Guitar Synthesizer, Fender bass, percussion
    Andy Summers – electric guitars, Moog and Roland synthesizers, Piano, Roland Guitar Synthesizer, Fender bass, percussion


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. than you, crimhead, but i'm still searching for King Crimson A Scarcity of Miracles 2011...will you please post it, if you have it ? thanks a lot

    1. King Crimson A Scarcity of Miracles 2011:

      More from King Crimson here:

    2. Gustavo, don't bother thanking Anonymous for providing what you want. Just keep telling us what you're "searching for".

  3. Thanks. I have both of the the Summers/Fripp LPs on vinyl and tape, but haven't been able to listen to them for years. Great stuff, if you like this sort of thing. I love it.
    I remember hearing Bewitched played as the post-show-clear-the-theater music at a Kinks concert in August 1985.

  4. Thank you very much

  5. Excelente disco. Altamente recomendado. Muito obrigado.

  6. Hello, can you repost this album, please? Much appreciated!!

    1. Many thanks!! It has been years since I hear the Fripp/Summers records. I long ago sold my vinyl..why??? :-)

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. Hello - Just wanted to let you know: files are removed from links/ Would it be possible to repost? Thank you so much!