TRAVIS & FRIPP

An ex­quis­ite three-CD live set from be­fore the Crim­son re­nais­sance.

Prog - - Echoes Old Turns... - MB

The re­for­ma­tion of King Crim­son in 2013 has been such a spec­tac­u­lar suc­cess, it’s easy to for­get that just be­fore it took place, an un­der­stand­ably em­bit­tered Robert Fripp, still mired in a le­gal dis­pute over royalties with UMG, had of­fi­cially re­tired from mu­sic. This meant that Fol­low, his duo al­bum cre­ated the pre­vi­ous year with flautist and sax­o­phon­ist Theo Travis, was ef­fec­tively his last recorded ut­ter­ance. Or so we were led to be­lieve.

With his sound­scape set-up – ba­si­cally a com­bi­na­tion of gui­tar syn­the­sis­ers and dig­i­tal loops – Fripp has pro­duced some beau­ti­ful mu­sic, but with such a syn­thetic sheen that it was some­times dif­fi­cult to get any emo­tional trac­tion on it. These record­ings with Travis, made at per­for­mances in churches in Chel­tenham and Broad­chalke, and at the Bath Fes­ti­val, are all the bet­ter for the in­ter­ac­tion and em­pa­thy be­tween the two play­ers.

There’s some du­pli­ca­tion of com­po­si­tions on these three sets,

but each per­for­mance is essen­tially a loose tem­plate of themes and melodic el­e­ments that al­lows for some im­pro­vi­sa­tional play­ing. The al­bum that Be­tween The Si­lence feels clos­est to in mood – at least in places – is The Equa­to­rial Stars, which

Fripp made with Brian Eno, and is a set he rates highly.

Rather than it be­ing sim­ply a kind of drift­ing am­bi­ence, there’s much ac­tiv­ity, al­beit mostly at a slow pace. Pas­torale is airy and open, with Travis’ alto flute flur­ries and Fripp’s sweet, muted gui­tar lines. Else­where, he plays his flute and sax lines in a more con­tem­pla­tive and melan­cholic man­ner, weav­ing his way through Fripp’s del­i­cate loop sys­tems on A Care­ful Dis­tance, and the duo play a fan­ta­sia of sorts on the main theme of King Crim­son’s Moon­child.

Apart from Fripp set­ting up his sound­scapes, he gives us a fair help­ing of his dis­tinc­tive gui­tar buzz, with some crunchy out­bursts on the com­pletely im­pro­vised Route 23, and he adds dis­rup­tion and an abra­sive edge to the ver­sions of Ro­tary Sym­met­ri­cal.

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