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Robert Fripp - The Robert Fripp String Quintet CD (album) cover

THE ROBERT FRIPP STRING QUINTET

Robert Fripp

 

Eclectic Prog

3.84 | 29 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer
4 stars The Robert Fripp String Quintet saw the once and future Crimson King working alongside his trusty sidekick Trey Gunn and the California Guitar Trio, alumni of Fripp's Guitar Craft seminars (and not actually from California, as this Pacific Coast expat was disappointed learn after seeing them open for the double-trio Crimson in 1995).

It was a short-lived but vital entity, as their 1993 album (the Quintet's one and only) convincingly demonstrates. In the booklet for the compact disc DGM engineer David Singleton writes: "I realized at the time that my job was to convince him [Fripp] that this album too...could be a major piece of work." But, judging at least from the scant number of reviews here at Prog Archives after eighteen years, it sort of fell between the cracks after the subsequent high-profile reformation of KC shortly afterward.

Too bad, because there's a lot here to admire, from the soaring beauty of "Hope" to the jaw- dropping distorted baroque frenzy of "Chromatic Fantasy", one of three J.S. Bach pieces in this set, and proof again that Mr. Fripp remains one of Rock's best and most distinctive guitarists. (I'm guessing this particular track is not unlike a typical morning warming-up exercise for him, and the best of luck. Kids, do not try this at home...)

Other highlights include the nervous energy of "Ka-Non Power" (a distant nephew of sorts to the classic Crimson "Larks Tongues in Aspic" cycle), alongside the more upbeat, toe- tapping melodies of "Yamanashi Blues" and "Bicycling to Afghanistan", not a recommended leisure activity these days. The backing tracks were all performed live, with discreet studio overdubs added afterward, typically featuring an acoustic California Trio accompanied by Fripp on electric guitar, with Trey Gunn playing the ubiquitous Chapman Stick. A lot of the music builds on the model designed a decade earlier by the "Discipline"- era King Crimson, with a similar interwoven gamelan of mathematic guitar notation.

The album's epilogue, and by far the longest selection on it, is the Frippertronic showpiece "Threnody for Souls in Torment", which sounds exactly like its title. From what dark corner inside the otherwise mild-mannered psyche of Robert Fripp does music this extreme spring from? Play it loud, and watch how well it frightens away your unwanted houseguests.

In the end it may not be entirely essential, but the album is still one of the hidden gems on the crown of the greater Crimson King.

Neu!mann | 4/5 |

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