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