Fripp & Eno – (No Pussyfooting)

Popped out to a record shop in Witney, Oxfordshire during my lunch break. I’ve been there before but not since prior to Christmas. The used selection is a decent size but there isn’t often much that I’m looking for and they have dividers with the names of bands I do want, but there aren’t any there, which is often disappointing. Today I bought Fripp & Eno for £12, 1973 press but not first I don’t think. It’s not on any of the streaming services so it’s my first listen, it’s bloody good.

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There are only two tracks on the album

Side 1: “The Heavenly Music Corporation” 20:55
Side 2: “Swastika Girls” 18:43

There was a deluxe CD reissue which has:

“The Heavenly Music Corporation (Reversed)” 20:52
“The Heavenly Music Corporation (Half speed)” 41:49
“Swastika Girls (Reversed)” 18:54

Which I’d quite like to hear as the music lends itself to being slowed down or reversed. I believe John Peel once played one of the tracks backwards and nobody noticed, including Peel.

Brian Eno invited Robert Fripp to his London home studio in September 1972. Eno was experimenting with a tape system developed by Terry Riley and Pauline Oliveros (I watched a BBC 4 program on this last week, it was fascinating, called ‘Tones, Drones And Arpeggios: The Magic Of Minimalism), where two reel-to-reel tape recorders were set up side-by side. Sounds recorded on the first deck would be played back by the second deck, and then routed back into the first deck to create a long looping tape delay. Fripp played guitar over Eno’s loops, while Eno selectively looped or recorded Fripp’s guitar without looping it. The technique later came to be known as “Frippertronics”.

I had a software version of ‘Frippertronics’ that I played my guitar through which was odd to begin with as you started with no sound even though you were playing and then it comes in, once you got going though it was really interesting building something up only to hear it slowly degrade, so then you play something else and so on. The Terry Riley piece of BBC 4 explained very well how phasing works, basically if you have teo reel to reel tape recorders with exactly the same thing on and press start, they will, at first be synchronised, say 7 notes repeating, but over time they will fall out of synch and things begin to sound a bit busy as you have 14 notes now, 7 & 7 but playing at a different interval. Over time two recorded will fall back into synch and you will have 7 notes again. The interesting thing about it to me is not necessarily the sound that it creates but how the brain processes it. It can be so slow that you don’t actually realise it is happening and you can become aware that the sounds you were listening to 15 minutes ago have completely changed and you have no idea how it happened. Well, intellectually you do, but not emotionally. It is very much a ‘How did I get here?’ experience.

The best known of Terry Riley’s pieces is called ‘In C’ which I’ve listened to a bit, not the whole thing as it can take 4 or more hours to perform, but it was a game changer in music at the time it was first performed.

‘In C’ consists of 53 short, numbered musical phrases, lasting from half a beat to 32 beats; each phrase may be repeated an arbitrary number of times. Each musician has control over which phrase they play: players are encouraged to play the phrases starting at different times, even if they are playing the same phrase. In this way, although the melodic content of each part is predetermined, ‘In Ch’ as elements of aleatoric music to it (n which some element of the composition is left to chance, and/or some primary element of a composed work’s realisation is left to the determination of its performer(s)).The performance directions state that the musical ensemble should try to stay within two to three phrases of each other. The phrases must be played in order, although some may be skipped. As detailed in some editions of the score, it is customary for one musician (“traditionally… a beautiful girl,” Riley notes in the score) to play the note C in repeated eighth notes, typically on a piano or pitched-percussion instrument (e.g. marimba). This functions as a metronome and is referred to as “The Pulse”. Steve Reich introduced the idea of a rhythmic pulse to Riley, who accepted it, thus radically altering the original composition by Riley which had no rhythm.

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Terry Riley: 2015

‘In C’ has no set duration; performances can last as little as fifteen minutes or as long as several hours, although Riley indicates “performances normally average between 45 minutes and an hour and a half.” The number of performers may also vary between any two performances. The original recording of the piece was created by 11 musicians (although, through overdubbing, several dozen instruments were utilised), while a performance in 2006 at the Walt Disney Concert Hall featured 124 musicians.

The piece begins on a C major chord (patterns one through seven) with a strong emphasis on the mediant E and the entrance of the note F which begins a series of slow progressions to other chords suggesting a few subtle and ambiguous changes of key, the last pattern being an alteration between B and G. Though the polyphonic interplay of the various patterns against each other and themselves at different rhythmic displacements is of primary interest, the piece may be considered heterophonic (In music, heterophony is a type of texture characterised by the simultaneous variation of a single melodic line).

Below is a performance which includes Terry Riley who is the bearded fellow at the piano. He is accompanied by Stargaze, who also collaborated with Policia to re-interpret Steve Reich’s Music For Pieces Of Wood, we’ll get into that in a minute.

I bought the LSO’s version of Music For Pieces Of Wood last year when it was released for Record Store Day 2017 and, a few months later another version was released by Policia and Stagaze which used instruments other than wood. This seems a contradiction but it really does work very well, it’s 20 minutes long, if you can spare the time have a listen:

The thing with music of this sort I find is that you need a little time, it is not short snappy numbers that you can blank out as they play, dipping in for a melody or a phrase here and there, this music needs a degree of concentration but you still have to let it wash over you to a degree. It needs a little bit of personal investment, but it is well worth it.

Anyway, I did a little video of walking into the shop, had my mic on so apologies for the heavy breathing! Shop is called Rapture, sister store of Truck in Oxford.

Finally, back to Frip & Eno and (No Pussyfooting)

Rating: 9.0

Glitterbug – Dust

I was sure I’d mentioned this album before but a search suggests I haven’t, other than to say I was listening to it. As I’ve had it on the turntable today I feel I should say something about it, but first, here is photographic evidence to corroborate this sentence:

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I’m on side C at the moment (which reveals early on that it is a double album) of this 10 track instrumental album. I saw it in the now defunct record store for £5 and it seemed worth a punt to me, and it was as it very much the sort of thing I like to just sit and listen to.

Glitterbug is a composer, producer, DJ, artist and curator; working mainly in the genres of deep techno, remix (if that is a genre), ambient works, writing music for films or audio-visual installations, everything I’ve heard resonates with a score-like, visual approach, so the latter make sense.

Tracklist

A1 Dust 5:30
A2 Silent Glory 6:12
A3 47th Floor 2:55
B1 Apparition 7:04
B2 Far Far Light 7:39
C1 When The City Was Bare 5:33
C2 The Stars Behind The Light 6:35
C3 Intermissions 4:40
D1 1st Of July 8:18
D2 Look Around 9:05

Till Rohmann is Glitterbug, a production alias referencing Derek Jarman’s final film, put together as a tribute by friends after the director’s death. The film is a wordless compilation of his home movies from 1970 to 1986, set to a Brian Eno score. Footage glitterbug_byronnishendar4_308f42454a_d4de357432ranges from casual snippets of home life to behind-the-scenes set footage, along with appearances from famous friends like William S. Burroughs and the Sex Pistols. As the years progress, the spread of AIDS begins to decimate Jarman’s social circle. What this tells us about Till Rohann I don’t know other than it is another cinematic reference.

The first track of the D-side, 1st of July (which i think is only available as a bonus track) is the most upbeat of all the tracks on the album with the others being more contemplative to varying degrees. It’s a welcome light breaking through the darker material to provide balance to this set of songs as a whole and is followed by Look Around, a spacey ambient piece that ends the album in a sombre mood.

 

Due to the telly being on an being told to turn that bloody music down I have been listening on headphones, good ones, and the album sounds great, really well produced, full and rich. I liked this from one review describing the album: Those same streets, at 3:32 am, not a person in sight. This is TRANS-personal music, the sound of shadows and dust and phosphorescence and debris, as told by etheric synthdrones and dusted drum machines. The reviewer in not wrong.

Also, it has a great cover. I enjoy a cover with absolutely no text.

Rating: 8.9

The Listening List

11/12/2016 – 21/12/2016

Milan W. – Intact
Antonio Carlos Jobim – Wave
William Basinski – 92982
Gala Drop – II
Naytronix – Mister Divine
Matthew Bourne – Moogmemory
Anstam – Names
Swans – The Glowing Man
Baumann / Koek – Baumann / Koek
Nick Drake – Five Leaves Left
Harmonia & Eno 76 – Tracks and Traces
The Beatles – Rubber Soul
The Cult – Dreamtime
The Cult – Love
The Cult – Electric
Svjatoslav Richter – Rachmaninoff, Klavierkonzert Nr. 2 In C-moll · Piano-Concerto No. 2 In C Minor – 6 Preludes
Roots Manuva – Slime & Reason
The Police – Outlandos D’amour
Sufjan Stevens – Illinoise

 

The Listening List

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Brian Eno – The Ship
Tape – Luminarium
Future Sound Of London – Far-Out Son Of Lung And The Ramblings Of A Madman
Björk – Vulnicura Strings
Georg Holm, Orri Páll Dýrason, Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson, Kjartan Holm ‎– Circe

I did a bit of work on the laptop, cooked our food, washed dishes and then sat down for a bit while listening to these yesterday.

Record Fair: Rugby Town Hall

I went to  record fair in Rugby this morning at the town hall. It’s very impressive size wise from the outside but I went in the side and in to a rather small room that had 8 stalls. There were the usual stalls with volume at a low price but with little of interest, lots of 80’s stuff that wasn’t very good then and hasn’t improved with time. There were also a couple of stalls with some really good stuff, I could have spent several hundred pounds at these if I had that sort of disposable income, which I don’t, so I had to be rather selective.

The first thing I bought was the only Radiohead album I don’t have on vinyl, Pablo Honey, their debut. It’s a re-issue but it’s on coloured vinyl, which suits me fine as I do love a bit of coloured vinyl.

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I know Radiohead have issues with the song ‘Creep’ but I was quite surprised to see this one has 154 million views on youtube, which suggests it might be quite popular.

From the same stall I bought ‘Kiss Me’ Kiss Me’ Kiss Me’ by the cure, not in the best of condition but OK. It’s one of my favourite Cure albums so it’s nice to get it. They had quite a few but the prices on some of them were prohibitive, at least for me.

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Finally, from the same stall I bought what turned out to be an unofficial pressing of Computer World by Kraftwerk, I had thought it probably was but its green vinyl, I was seduced for I am weak.

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I fail to comprehend how anybody could not love ‘Pocket Calculator’, just listen to it, it’s amazing.

The next thing was a copy of ‘The Pearl’ by Harold Budd and Brian Eno. I’m picking up Eno albums when I see them. I’d like the Ambient series but they are so bloody expensive.

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And sticking with Harold Budd I bought ‘The Moon & The Melodies’ A very nice copy, which is basically a Cocteau Twins album.

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It’s a wonderful album.

Finally, a copy of the soundtrack to ‘The Mission’ which is an amazing film which I highly recommend watching, not least because the soundtrack, which is brilliant, was by Ennio Morricone.

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I could have stayed longer and dug a bit more but it was so bloody hot today and the room had no air con. I was very happy with what I found anyway.

Well nobody told me: Roxy Music

Whenever I’ve had cause to think of Roxy Music the tracks that are at the forefront of my mind are things like Avalon, More Than This, Jealous Guy, Angel Eyes or Dance Away. These are the ones that were current when I started to really take notice of music and it started meaning something to me. While they are perfectly fine songs they were never going to interest me on any other level than them being something I could whistle to, though probably wouldn’t. I had little idea of what they were as a band before the 80’s. I had seen things like ‘Do The Strand’ on the Old Grey Whistle Test repeats, but my judgement was already set.

I was watching a you tube video where folks were showing their record collections and a ‘Highly Recommended’ was ‘Music For Pleasure’, their sophomore release from 1973, so I decided to give it a streaming music service listen and was genuinely surprised by what I heard.

I have read some reviews from back when it was released and they are, on occasion, far from complimentary but I’ve had the benefit of hearing over 40 years of music since this album was released and heard how music has changed, pioneered, progressed and so, listening to ‘Music For Pleasure’ for the first time I have many more reference points than the reviewers of the day would have had. I can hear the Prog, the Krautrock, the experimentation and the Pop and it is a wonderful mix that gives little indication of the lounge act I felt they became. Perhaps Brian Eno was a catalyst as he left the band after this album and it was a few more albums later before I feel they drifted off the path upon which they had been set (which I only comment upon because I’ve been listening to most of the back catalogue of late).

I found a few albums for sale so thought I’d pick them up for £22, here they are, all six of them:

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That’s 3.66 each. I received them yesterday and they are in very good, playable condition. Very pleased with that and finding myself really liking early Roxy Music, which is something I never would have thought would happen as I was really very biased against them until now but damn this stuff is good.

Brian Eno – The Ship – Vinyl Video

A short film whereby I look inside the new Brian Eno release, The Ship, for the first time.

“In his sleeve notes to 1978’s Music for Airports, Brian Eno wrote that ambient music “must be as ignorable as it is interesting”. That is true of The Ship, his first solo album in four years, which is inspired by the sinking of the Titanic and comprises two epic songs, one of which, Fickle Sun, is a three-movement piece featuring the comedian Peter Serafinowicz. The opener, the title track, is eerie and portentous, Eno’s impossibly deep spoken vocal perched atop synth washes that slowly unfurl. At 21 minutes long it could do with a trim, but the closing part, a cover of the Velvet Underground’s I’m Set Free, shows that Eno remains one of the great shape shifters.” – The Guardian

You can listen to the track ‘The Ship’, below:

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