Jeff Kravitz, FilmMagic Forty-seven years after the release of his first…
- Posted on Dec 3rd 2010 8:55PM by DJ Lanphier
For decades, the founding member of King Crimson, producer and educator has been a quiet yet dominant presence in rock and ambient circles. His influence on experimental sound - the use of digital effects and loops, and his approach to how performance spaces can shape, affect and contribute to a soundscape and to a musical piece - changed music, live performance and recording forever. Robert Fripp has played and recorded with everyone from Brian Eno and Peter Gabriel to The Roches and David Bowie. Yet, he doesn't perform very often, and has recently stated that these may be his last performances of his legendary 'Frippertronics' pieces.
So, when Robert Fripp took the stage Friday at the Winter Garden in the World Financial Center in New York City to perform 'Soundscapes', a composition created specifically for the Winter Garden space at that moment in time, the sense of being in on something special was floating in the air.
The Winter Garden is a large glass-enclosed atrium with a high-arched ceiling. It is part of a larger shopping and office complex, which contains shops and a food court. Banks of escalators lay on both sides of the atrium, the stage nestled in between, a large flying white canopy stretched upward and outward above it. It's fair to say that the Winter Garden is a "noisy" place. But, noise is a relative term in the world of Robert Fripp.
The stage was sparse. A lone leather-padded drummer's stool sat center stage. To the left was a bank of digital recorders, players and effects consoles. To the right a lone playback monitor. And, behind it sat Robert Fripp's custom made Crimson Guitars Signature Les Paul style guitar.
Dressed entirely in black, Robert Fripp walked onto the stage to great applause, and bowed gentlemanly from the lip of the stage three times. He then walked over and picked up his guitar, sat on the stool and began to play while fiddling with the knobs and switches on the console occasionally to generate the sound and effect he was looking for. It was spontaneous and glorious.
What followed was a one-of-a-kind musical experience that set the imagination soaring, and piqued the natural senses. Fripp's aural sculpture weaved around the room and meshed with the ambient noise inside. His guitar histronics intertwined with the low hum of the escalators. Soaring digital effects bounced around and joined with the buzz of the people milling about, talking, walking. A subtle guitar chord danced with the low ambient rumble of the city. It became nearly impossible to discern what was created by Fripp, and what was "noise" in the room. It all became one. A musical and audio journey for the soul and senses.
When it was over, Robert Fripp placed his guitar back upon its stand, walked to the lip of the stage, and bowed, again, three times: once at center, once at stage right and once at stage left. He quietly walked off, leaving the audience and onlookers alone with the sounds of the city transformed, if only for a brief moment in time, from noise into the cosmic dance.