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Robert Fripp - At The End Of Time CD (album) cover


Robert Fripp

Eclectic Prog

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4 stars A Sunday Times CD of the week no Fripp implies in his typically effusive sleeve notes, if you were to have come along to a performance of his "Churchscapes" expecting some hard riffing then you would be disappointed. Here, it's Fripp and his "Solar Voyager" playing solo in a series of churches in the UK and in Estonia. I wasn't especially aware of it being live - no audience in the background re-acting in any way to the music, not even a cough - but you can ocassionally sense that Fripp's playing is less confident than at other times, that he's not in the studio.

It is electric, ambient music, not unsuited to a spiritual place of worship. I don't know how Fripp's Solar Voyager actually works but the sounds generated sound like a mix of synth, percussion, and of course, guitar. So it's much more like "No Pussyfooting" and not at all like "Red". Not an album to play in the car, as I soon realised; very definitely an album to listen to on headphones, one that creates a meditative, spiritual mood. I loved it - difficult to pick out any one track but the final pairing from a place called Haapsalu was my favourite, I could imagine the sounds swelling and filling the rafters before slowly fading away. Fripp showing then that he is still a master at developing himself and to coin an over-used phrase, pushing the boundaries. 4 solid stars.

Report this review (#150316)
Posted Monday, November 12, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars A quick thought:

Robert Fripp's End of time is a live album of more of Fripp's solo ambience & soundscapes.It shares the same premise of the early days with Brian Eno,but Fripp has evolved the concept and sound,some what.Interestingly each song is played in a different church throughout England & Estonia,one of which was is in my home town.To me this is a very interesting concept itself,it's certainly not a tour of a typical musician in his early sixties.But Fripp has never been that cliche rock star,he's one of the few older musicians who are still interested to evolve their sound & concepts.

With the large amounts of soundscapes that he has released each has always been diverse and this one especially stands out personally for me.It has an interesting atmosphere throughout,something I can't put my finger on.Perhaps,it's the venues?The music delivers a more optimistic sound as opposed to something a little darker and complicated like Eno & Fripp's "No Pussyfooting". The tour of churches made me wonder if Robert Fripp is a religious man? or perhaps Fripp is just humble?To me the music sounds like it's created by such a persona. There's nothing overpowering or demanding to listen to,it's very textured & tasteful.There are no surprises of rapid guitar work or any discordant harmony's,it simply flows with euphoric sounds which make you feel at peace.Songs such as "Evensong:Haapsalu" reminds me slightly, of Vangelis' "Blade Runner"and is probably the closest comparison I can give.

As Fripp says within the cd booklet "The churchscapes performances took place out-side the world of rock music & popular culture;and mostly outside commercial culture"That probably gives you a better idea and description then I could give you for what is in store.

Report this review (#248205)
Posted Wednesday, November 4, 2009 | Review Permalink
Eetu Pellonpaa
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars From those Robert Fripp's solo soundscapes I have heard, this record returns again to the finest celestial spheres I found earlier from his divine "The Gates of Paradise" album. The music focuses again more deeply to the mystic feelings and religious experiences. These solemn relations in the musical context are underlined with use of both church bell and pipe organs resembling sounds, which create beautiful contrasts with very low-pitched and vast humming, associating with echoes of infinity and most profound human questions. The descending and ascending motives form waves summoning forth a powerful sacred spiritual experience, full with melancholic solemnity with presence of hope. These tides on the sea of soothing peacefulness sail to both hypnotic calm phases and cross-picked guitar mantras. Some of the synthesized sounds are quite realistic, some having more artificial characteristics. There are also some fine guitar solos, where the instrument's sound is not so much processed.

Major theme of the album are several variations of "Evensong" from the Fripp & Eno album "Evening Star"; In Tallinn the descending notes of referred track are audible in the tingling background layers, in Viljandi the overall humming sound presence and in codas quiet bells, then in Haapsalu session the dark motives behind solo guitar along with the serene coda details. The wind chime sounding quiet bells dominant on codas of these "Evensong" prayers are very beautiful, chanting with piety their minimal cycles. These entities are segmented with two tranquil phases titled "At The End of Time", and the final "Evensong" is reached through powerful deep sounds of "Future Shift", offering visions from more atonal ethereal planes. The last phase of the album has very sorrowful progression with electronically treated solos, reaching later more hopeful yearning to its flight, before escaping to most blissful bells fading to the void of celestial harmonies.

The composition of the record is built successfully from the church concert recordings, which were captured from a small tour in England and Estonia, reaching a solid thematic album from the emotional logics of the sacred sounds. In the CD booklet there are links to DGM Live web shop, from where one can purchase flac/mp3 downloads of five whole concerts from which this album was built. Robert also shares his memories from the tour and contemplations about his musical career and philosophical views.

I believe this music is relying mostly on the feeling of sounds, not containing very complex musical content. The performances must have been extraordinary events in the churches, if one should be open to peaceful spiritual experiences. Though I do not accept any dogmas of religions preached by men correct, but I see wisdom in William Blake's words "all religions are one". I think the urge to search answers to spiritual questions is a fundamental part of human existence. Though the answer might not be possible to be found, it is possible that search itself is more important, and I refuse to accept the conflict of secular scientific and spiritual faith based views of world - a clash that I have noted to be strong in the segment of society being visible to me. For those who are doing this search or just like beautiful ambient-oriented music, I would certainly recommend this extraordinary album.

Report this review (#582423)
Posted Monday, December 5, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Enjoy the music at the end of time!

The most sophisticated and "universal" soundscapes album to this day. I feel like I am pushing Robert Fripp to your attention, but it is a shame that this masterpiece has 5 lonely ratings (all good 4/5 Stars). It is quiet a mystery, considering the sole fact of who this guy is.

But anyway, this is as good as it gets and you should try to immerse yourself in this original guitar language project. Of course there is no contact with King Crimsons´s multi-instrumental/vocal, colored fireworks, as that has been established since Fripp's 3 drone like compositions in his first solo studio recorded work "Exposure" and completely in his 2nd. "UnderHeavyManners/GodSavetheQueen".

Closer to the electronic "Ambient/Drone" experimentations, his guitar's self made language makes no compromises, like spoken-languages never do, either you get them or not. BUT the main attribute about " At The End Of Time" is the depured synthesis of Fripp's "soundscapes" musical language.

Self-demanding artistry evolution and refinement led its way to this kind of result. So assumed that there are no close connections to Eclectic-Prog's roots or direction like KC's, this will fairly be considered Progressive Electronic. It has all its elements, but generated totally by the electric guitar unexplored , until then, sounds and technological possibilities and not the usually synths/keyboards found in this prog sub-genre.

"Electronic/Enviromental/Experimental/Ambient/Drone/Shoegaze/Minimalism" in spirit and contemporary symphonic due to its well defined multi-overlapped melodic lines, sections and transparent yet monumental structures

One of those efforts which covers the whole scope and intention of the composer without losing grip or forcing the outcome. Add up a "Loosely/Tight" performance with the makings of perfection.

"Friendly" as beauty usually is and uncompromising the same way!

. *****5 "Flawless original, daring with all the energy of Robert Fripp's self-impossed perfect pitch attitude towards performance and music composition" stars.

Report this review (#886460)
Posted Wednesday, January 2, 2013 | Review Permalink

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