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Robert Fripp - 1999 Soundscapes - Live in Argentina CD (album) cover


Robert Fripp


Eclectic Prog

3.43 | 25 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars The first of Robert Fripp's Soundscape releases... a bold statement of how far those old Frippertronic loops have evolved, and an introduction to a deceptively powerful method of music-making. This initial collection of captured live performances is close to being the least accessible, with Fripp still really discovering exactly what was possible with the process (as he probably still is), resulting in some typically difficult listening - unfamiliar, extended waves of sound most certainly NOT intended for an evening of easy listening.

The Soundscape technique sees the guitarist triggering various sustained synthesized notes, including string section sounds, rumbles, cutting drones, then looping certain sections and slowly building up into electronic symphonies that are absolutely full of atmosphere and emotion. '1999's five tracks chart Fripp's expression of his predicted 'feel' for four future years, plus an interlude of what sounds like unrest and 'untangling'. The deep rumble of the first track fades in very slowly, surrounding the listener like shifting earth, gradually drawing them into the harsh environment one can associate with society, mental and material struggles, though the feel is one of oppression and brooding rather than frustration. '2000' continues this theme and introduces the onset of fear in the album's most unsettling track - very difficult to listen to, but beautifully absorbing. As the album continues, however, the years '2001' and '2002' hold sadness, reflection, and more positive tones. The final moments of the album have a certain feel of acceptance and clarity, but also the drag of defeat and fatigue, making them different from the same themes in later albums. The music cuts off very unnaturally in the full flow of these emotions, the extremely sudden silence just as effective as the hour of music in front of it.

The album does serve as a good introduction to what the Soundscapes are all about, but as mentioned it is among the most challenging for its, perhaps, overly long suites and more limited instrumental range. Minimal, and basically unpleasant, but with repeated focused listenings, somewhere along the way the penny will drop and you'll hear just how close this music is to the deepest feelings you feel and the thoughts you have. And on to 'Radiophonics'...

ThulŽatan | 4/5 |


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