Robert Fripp

Robert Fripp's Diary

Thursday 30 November 2006

Hotel Acceptable, Tokyo.


Hotel Acceptable, Tokyo.

A wonderful, reflective & contemplative breakfast, with a view.

This is how the culture thinks I…












To the left of this is the Capitol Tokyu I…






To the right is the New Otani…


The New Otani is where KC – Billy & Bobby & Tony & Belew - stayed in December 1981 on its first visit to Japan. TLev had already visited several times, and we were well psyched with Tony’s stories of life on the road in this country, relatively unvisited by Western players at the time. Along one of the lanes in pics I & II Tony took us to Al Dente, an Italian restaurant that excited him because it was a chain restaurant, yet able to provide food al dente. It had disappeared by the time of our 1984 visit, when I ventured along the lanes with Ade on restaurant search. We had a live fish about-to-be-becoming food in front of our eyes, beginning with the swift removal of its head. One motion: pulled from the tank, slapped on the board, a chopper descending, dinner begins. Japan loves it fish, and loves eating them even more than that.

Further right…


A bit more right than that…


A feature of breakfast was lotsa clearing of throats. This seems to be culturally acceptable, so many throats are enthusiastically cleared; although with little success. So, the clearing continues. With lotsa slurping of the miso. Slurp slurp.

Back in my room, and online, and two reviews of Evensong…

The Sound of Bells Gently Chiming  November 27, 2006Written by ScottM

Does this music mostly settle into a mimicry of bells gently chiming on a quiet afternoon?  Yes.  Do I like the sound of bells gently chiming?  Yes.  Is the music reminiscent of the first two Fripp and Eno albums?  Yes, in parts.  Given that Mr. Eno actually demonstrated an interest in (real and virtual) bells a few years ago, do I feel that his influence is very much here?  Yes.  Is there value to this performance and this concept of music?  Yes.  Is it $12.95 worth?  Well, I would have to say no, given that if I ever lose my copy of this I will most likely not order it again.  Are Fripp and Eno’s best days behind them?  Not necessarily, but this music fails to rise to the legacy of projects like "No Pussyfooting" or "Let the Power Fall", which were rather unique and powerful in their time.  If this were a mass-marketed CD, would I recommend it to fans of Mr. Fripp?  No.  Am I glad that Mr. Fripp has DGM Live to offer his latest music at, and that I can hear what he is up to?  Yes.  Am I glad that I paid $12.95 for it?  Not especially. 


Useful Music   November 30, 2006Written by printmaker

The first question that I asked myself, in my was "Do I need to buy more Soundscape?". I decided that I did and my modest outlay has given me some very rich and useful music. I do not feel that I have the words to describe this music and I will simply list the uses that I found for it:

On a moonlit walk through dark lanes; it was a pleasant companion and I could still hear owls hooting over the music.

Sitting contemplating reflections. It is interesting to me how the music created in one space transfers to another. In this case from an evening church to the matins of a chilly morning by a wild pond.  This was a pleasant moment. The final section is a lovely soundtrack to meditations on pleasant times.

At work (1). I work in very fine detail and need music that will wash past me at one time but also allow me to stop and concentrate on it at another. Evensong is proving to be a congenial companion in the studio.

At work (2). I thoroughly recommend Evensong to accompany the slow repetition of printing on an iron handpress.

It seems sometimes that the best that we can hope for today is that something is simply fit for its purpose. Evensong meets that requirement admirably. Be tempted to explore the uses that you can make of this music.


Several good points & thought provoking.

Q. Quiet afternoon?
A. No.

Q. A quiet late evening?
A. Yes.

Q. Does it matter?
A. Very much.

Q. Why?
A. It goes to the heart of the music’s identity, nature & function.


This is Evensong, part of a day’s end process.

Choral Evensong
Evening Prayer

An afternoon, however quiet, is part of the day’s middle process & there’s a lot of the day left to unfold. Evensong, as a service in the English church, is conventionally a service of reflection. The two Evensong pieces, from two Lutheran churches of Estonia, were both played at the end of the performances, deliberately as wind-down, completion music to end the performances, to prepare the audiences to leave. At DGM HQ, at the end of a long day, I played this music & found it ideal to close down my own day in a gentle, supportive fashion.

I’m not sure it’s valid to compare an RF solo album to a Fripp & Eno album. But, looking at No Pussyfooting… at the time (1973), No Pussyfooting was prevented a formal mass-marketed album release and, effectively, never had one. EG Management & Island Records colluded to keep No Pussyfooting quiet, as far as they could without actually burying it. A budget release in the UK, it was originally exported to the US. The reason: EG & Island felt NP would harm the commercial potential of the ex-Roxy Music player now “ready for a solo career” (to quote EG at the meeting where Brian was removed from Roxy).

Some people were touched by NP strongly at the time, and one of these was David Bowie. Some have also been generous enough to consider NP a landmark work, and I’ll be brave enough to agree with them. Certainly, it was for me. In the early years following the (limited) release, the reception for NP was primarily within the artist & musicians’ communities, rather than the public domain.

Let The Power Fall was widely ignored at the time, a convention continued since, and is rarely mentioned even today. I am gratified that it might be considered a legacy recording, flattered that it be mentioned alongside No Pussyfooting.

NP was a “studio” recording, Side One at Eno’s apartment, Side Two recorded at Command in Piccadilly. LTPF was a series of snapshots of solo Frippertronics loops, generated in live performance in North America during mid-1979. Evensong is live performances from Estonia 27 years later. So, if comparison is useful, there is a direct comparison available to LTPF & Evensong: both live, both RF solo with looping technology.

Eno showed me the Revox looping system in NYC in 1977, when we were both living there. At the time I commented to Brian you’ve done yourself out of a job now! (I note getting work has never been a difficulty for Brian.) This did allow me to perform solo, and the debut of Frippertonics was at The Kitchen in SoHo, NYC in early 1978. The name Frippertronics was coined especially for press releases of the event.

The looping technology adopted for Frippertronics, of two linked Revoxes, was the same used on NP and, a little later, Discreet Music. Discreet Music, the debut ambient album, is certainly a legacy recording, and much better known than NP.

A word on the notion of generating “legacies”: if I walked onstage with the aim, expectation or hope of matching historic “legacies”, nothing would happen: the level of expectation to be met would be overwhelming. The aim is to be true to the moment, whether reproducing historic repertoire, current repertoire or spontaneously composing (ie improvising).

Sometimes, works are born whole & complete: there is no apparent “before” or development process leading up to their appearance. Often, these works are peaks or endpoints in a process, but the preceding stages of the process are out of sight.

No Pussyfooting was born complete without preceding history. But both young men, playing together for the first time, had spent the preceding parts of their lives moving to this point. Similarly In The Court Of The Crimson King came from nowhere, yet each of the young men had considerable experience for their ages. Exposure, Red & Discipline were also born whole, with nowhere to go.

All of these are considered statements, not with an eye on “creating a legacy” but on presenting a proposition true to its moment. The greater the “truth” in the moment, the greater the moment. None of these were “legacy releases” at the time they were released – how is that possible? A “legacy” is apparent later, if the music continues to attract & speak to audiences.

Sometimes, one presents a major statement , a considered proposition, an “essay”. Sometimes, one makes a comment in a particular moment, presenting a viewpoint with particular immediacy, standing & thinking on one’s feet, as in improv. Some of these comments, in retrospect, are considered as important as formally presented arguments. One example: the improvs from The Great Deceiver: impromptu comments presented as part of an ongoing consideration, investigation & argument. In retrospect, they are widely considered authoritative & a “legacy”. But, not at the time. At the time, the band was widely criticized & attracted the odium attendant on overblown progressive pomp rock with extended widdly guitar solos. It was only in 1992 that The Wire sought to rehabiltate KC on the basis of The Great Deceiver. (Perhaps some will remember that a Wire writer in the following edition disagreed with KC’s  repositioning, with the remark that KC “were only ever a poor man’s black Sabbath, no more no less”). So much for an “immediate legacy”.

Evensong is a statement of faith, presented on two particular evenings from a series of 5 church performances over five days. It is true to those evenings & has a particular function within each.

Q. Would this be a CD release?
A. In the present situation of the music industry, probably not.

Q. Is DGM Live ideal for their downloading?
A. Not only ideal, but DGM Live was created specifically for downloads such as this, to make available snapshots of an ongoing process. These fill the gaps between “peaks” and/or “final definitive positions” presented on studio recordings.

Q. Is Evensong worth $12.95?
A. Like, is it worth 3 or 4 lattes?

Q. Do you recommend it?
A. If you expect it, or demand of it, that it do something to you immediately and as effectively as recordings whose value has been established over several decades, I’d recommend you have a latte. But, if you are tempted to explore the uses that you can make of this music, you might have made a new friend. And if you are interested in seeing a larger process unfold, this might be for you.

Process: if where we’re going is how we get there, then stages & stations along the way are not arrival points, merely points of departure. In my life, I continue in motion, and much of that is outside the public view. Along that private way, I send a few postcards.

Q. If you lost your copy of this, what would you do?
A. Go looking for my friend.

11.19  It seems to be a recurrent pattern, over many years: people look to me to solve their problems.

11.35  The Toto Ass Machine of Terror, Easement, Joy & Water…


… has been a feature of all evacuation facilities on this trip, in hotels & venues. In the venue at Osaka, the seat was heated as well. Surprises apart, I prefer it to the Eastern facilities (also still found in parts of France): the hole in the ground. My leg muscles are no longer able to balance me reliably above the scene of action. I have memories of the last time this was the only available remedy: staying overnight with a Japanese Happy Gigster pal. This found me hanging from plumbing & water pipes lest I disgrace the visit. Apologies for the graphic nature of the commentary: just reporting from the road…

14.32  Returning from lunch with Japanese pals, I have just heard my Vista splash on BBC World Business News.

16.05 Listening to last night’s Soundscape performance in Tokyo & packing I…







Worn With Pride…



19.05 Listening to the first night in Nagoya. This is most enjoyable, other than a few clicks that entered the system with a programme change. Pooey pooey.

19.19 Listening to Fantasia On The Theme Of Schizoid from Osaka. A slidy, slithering reflection on the nature of ambiguity. And then, how to move from ambiguity to definition. And back again.

20.24  E-frenzying & the inbox at 103.