1980 July Cream Terry Riley Robert Fripp review

Bobby Go Loop-de-Loop, Terry Go Loop-de-Li
Michael Davis
Cream, July 1980

Robert Fripp
God Save the Queen/Under Heavy Manners

(EG/Polydor)

Terry Riley
Shri Camel

(Columbia) 

1-2-3-4. 1-2-3-4. 1-2-3-4. 1-2-3- Ommmm.

The repetition of a musical phrase does strange things to the human mind and body. You know what happens when your favorite songs head into the chorus or main riff; you tap your foot harder or get up and dance or sing along or get so “into it” that you knock over your beer mug and generally make an ass out of yourself. But repetition of a pattern which gradually changes over an extended period of time can have the opposite effect, calming you down and relaxing you, Strange, right?

Now Fripp is aware of the way both kinds of repetition work. King Crimson’s early classic, “21st Century Schizoid Man,” was constructed around one of the heaviest riffs ever devised and as early as 1972, Fripp and Eno were working with tape loops, recording their duo LP’s, No Pussyfooting and Evening Star, and evolving the technique that Robert now calls “Frippertronics,” and features on his new album. Without going into all the details, the technique involves re-cording sounds on a single tape loop going through two Revox tape machines; controlled properly, the patterns generated can sound very pleasing.

As you might have figured from the album’s dual title, Fripp presents his music here in two different contexts. Side one was originally to be called Discotronics; funky bass and drum parts were overdubbed onto loops generated in live performances. “Under Heavy Manners” also features uncredited contributions by head Talker David Byrne, applying some radical vocal phrasing to Fripp’s shopping list of “isms.” It’s as interesting as the following “The Zero Of The Signified” is dull. True, you can dance to it but big deal, you can dance to a lot of things, from eggbeaters to washing machines (if you think pogoing to the Ramones at 78 r.p.m. is the ultimate, try getting down to a spin cycle).

Side A consists of pure Frippertronics and works a lot better. Blending together brief melodic fragments with his own patented fuzztone drones, he comes up with a music that is both technological and mechanical on one hand, yet individualistic and personal on the other. I’ll admit that I prefer his collaborations with Eno because of the richer mixture of sounds but there’s definitely something to be said for this singular approach. Actually, this album would probably have had a lot more impact on me had it not coincided with the latest release by a real master of this sort of thing.

That man is Terry Riley. Back in the 60’s, Riley was a musical pioneer, drawing from the Western classical tradition, jazz improvisers like John Coltrane, and Eastern sources to create long, drawn-out works based on repeated, over-lapping melodies. He wasn’t alone in the field—working along similar lines were La Monte Young, Philip Glass and Steve Reich—but Riley was the most influential of the bunch, partly because his music had a lighter, more attractive air to it and partly because his records, In C and Rainbow In Curved Air, were released on Columbia, making them widely available. And I mean influential in the rock sphere as well as elsewhere; his mark is felt in the work of Eno, Cluster, and the sequencer-dependent electronic bands as well as mainstreamers like The Who – Townshend’s intro to “Baba O’Riley” is a direct nod to the man.

Shri Camel is Riley’s first American release in over ten years and is somewhat more Eastern-tinged than his earlier work, hardly a surprising development since he’s spend much of the past decade studying Indian ragas. It’s also one of the few records of recent years that has totally amazed me. On a technical level, I don’t understand at all how he can get so many sounds out of his modified organ at the same time, even with the digital delay units hooks up.

But on a more subjective level, this music simply gets me high; it’s buoyant, shifting textures bring out feelings of wonder and joy that rock hasn’t been able to inspire in me in a long time. My favorite rock ‘n’ roll at the moment — Jam, Clash, Lydia Lunch — is tough stuff, music that acknowledges the difficult choices that each of us has to make to keep ourselves together as Western Civilization goes through another cycle of (probably violent) change. Shri Camel floats above it all, a shining cloud dispensing hope that somehow all the contradictions can be solved and we can all eventually live in…

Harmony? I dunno. This repetition stuff can make you think weird thoughts. Whew.

*

Found this clipping in my files after a move. I was already a fan of Robert Fripp, reading this Terry Riley review (and the one in the NY Times) got me interested in Terry and microtones.

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Cream – Fresh Cream
Cream – Live Cream v2
Jaco Pastorius – Truth, Liberty and Soul
North Mississippi Allstars – Prayer for Peace
Billy Gibbons – Perfectacamundo
ZZ Top – King Biscuit Flower Hour 1980
Gene Bowen – the Vermillon Sea
John D’Earth – One Bright Earth
Sonny Stitt – Shangri-La
Sonny Stitt – Soul People
Max Richter – Three Worlds: Music From Woolf Works
David Starobin – Newdance
Henry Kaiser, S Kuriokhin – Popular Science
Matt Mitchell – Forage
Matt Mitchell – Fiction

…..and a big dose of Don Patterson and Carl Nielsen. 🙂

 

MV5BOTU3MTFiMzMtYTRmOC00MTc0LTllNmEtMmI4NWFjMTU5OGRmXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMjE5MzM3MjA@._V1_
Sylvie Courvoisier and Mary Halvorson – Crop Circles
DeJohnette, Grenadier, Medeski & Scofield – Hudson
Stacy Kent – Close Your Eyes
Anna Garbarek – Balloon Mood
Anna Garbarek – Briefly Shaking
Paco De Lucia Plays Manuel De Falla
Ginger Baker Trio – Going Home
Bill Frisell – Small Town
Ferenc Snetberger – Titok
Ron McClure – Yesterday’s Tomorrow
Lee Konitz, Paul Bley, Bill Connors – Pyramid
Contact, Live at Jazz a Porquerolles 2010
Johnny Winter – Johnny Winter
Johnny Winter – Second Winter

““Virtuoso” is used promiscuously, without much thought for the actual thing it is describing.

Here’s an example: Lang Lang is considered a virtuosic pianist. He plays at fast tempos and does so with a lot of demonstrative physical flourishes. He also has terrible technique, constantly fudging passages and in the times I’ve seen him unable to maintain a consistent pulse or tempo. I’ve also never heard any ideas from him, so his ability to play the piano and think about music are both questionable to me. There’s nothing I see in him that’s virtuosic, other than perhaps public presentation.

Then there are musicians like Oscar Peterson, or Jascha Heifetz, or Al Di Meola, who can play the hell out of their instrument but, to my ear and heart, do nothing more than spin out polished notes—they have nothing to say. Admiring their technique only goes so far.”

The Big City

Jaco Pastorius: Truth, Liberty & Soul

Order it from Amazon

“Virtuoso” is used promiscuously, without much thought for the actual thing it is describing.

Here’s an example: Lang Lang is considered a virtuosic pianist. He plays at fast tempos and does so with a lot of demonstrative physical flourishes. He also has terrible technique, constantly fudging passages and in the times I’ve seen him unable to maintain a consistent pulse or tempo. I’ve also never heard any ideas from him, so his ability to play the piano and think about music are both questionable to me. There’s nothing I see in him that’s virtuosic, other than perhaps public presentation.

Then there are musicians like Oscar Peterson, or Jascha Heifetz, or Al Di Meola, who can play the hell out of their instrument but, to my ear and heart, do nothing more than spin out polished notes—they have nothing to say…

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20160802_194952 Rahway Aug 2016

August 2016, Rahway, NJ

Gavin Bryars – Adelaide Town Hall
Toro Takemitsu – Rising Sun
The Film Music of Toro Takemitsu
Lou Harrison – Gamelan Music
Albert Manglesdorf, Jaco Pastorus, Alphonse Mouzon – Trilogue – Live!
King Crimson – Live in Argentina, 1994 DVD
Arve Henriksen – Strjon
Anthony Braxton, John Linberg – Six Duets (1982)
Baden Powell – Solitude on Guitar
Baden Powell – Apaixonado
Organissimo – Live, 2007 E Lansing Jazz Festival
Romeo Void – Warm, in Your Coat
John Stowell/Michael Zilber Qt – Shot Through With Beauty
John Stowell, David Liebman – Blue Rose
Paul McCandless – Heresay
Allan Holdsworth – Flat Tire

20150811_115833Ornette Coleman – Hidden Man
Ornette Coleman – Sound Museum Three Women
Sun Ra – Supersonic Sounds
Return to Forever – Where Have I Known You Before
Julian Priester – Love, Love
Gerald Garcia – Baroque Favorites
Gerald Garcia – Romantic Guitar Favorites
John Williams – Takemitsu Guitar Pieces
Lorenzo Micheli – Miguel Llobet Guitar Works
José Luis Montón – Solo Guitarra
Matt Mitchell – Roulette April 4, 2017
Evan Parker & Peter Kowald – Cottbus, 1979
Evan Parker & Dave Holland – Roccella Joni, Italy 1989
Tyshawn Sorey – solo piano – at JACK, Brooklyn – July 20 2015
Button Trio (Stephen Haynes, Joe Morris, Tyshawn Sorey) – at The Stone, NYC – July 30 2014
Ches Smith Trio, Winter Jazz Fest, Friday, January 10, 2014
Matthew Shipp Trio – at Vision Festival 19 – Roulette, Brooklyn – June 14 2014

Claude Debussy mediumBill Frisell – Before We Were Born
Anthony Braxton – Trio & Duet
Anthony Braxton – Nine Duets (1993)
Anthony Braxton – Creative Music Orchestra (Koln) 1978
Anthony Braxton – Composition No. 165 (for 18 Instruments)
The Microscopic Qt – Lobster Leaps In
John Stevens with Allan Holdsworth – Re-Touch
Levin Torn White
Ran Blake – Suffield Gothic
Ran Blake – Short Life of Barbara Monk
Ran Blake – Grey December, Live in Rome
Konrad Ragossnig – Lute Music of the Renaissance
Andrew Hill – Change
Julia Hulsman – Sooner & Later
John Clark – Faces
Sam Rivers – Streams
Tempest – Tempest
Paul Motian – Psalm
Don Thompson Quartet – Winter Mist
Cecil Taylor – Berlin Jazztage 1969 with Sam Rivers and Jimmy Lyons
Sam Rivers – an Evening in Hamburg 1979
Roger Powell – Cosmic Furnace
ScoLoHoFo – Oh!
Frank Zappa – Meat Light: The ‘Uncle Meat’ Project/Object Audio Documentary

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