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AT THE END OF TIME

Robert Fripp

Eclectic Prog


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4 stars A Sunday Times CD of the week no less..as 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.

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Send comments to Phil (BETA) | 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.

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Send comments to mrcozdude (BETA) | Report this review (#248205)
Posted Wednesday, November 04, 2009 | Review Permalink
Eetu Pellonpää
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
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.

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Send comments to Eetu Pellonpää (BETA) | Report this review (#582423)
Posted Monday, December 05, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars 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 this has no close contact to the Crimsons´s fireworks, as that has been established since Fripp's album #2, "UnderHeavyManners/GodSavetheQueen".

Closer to the electronic-"Ambient" experimentations tagging, if such "tag" existed. His guitar-language makes no compromises, like spoken-languages never do, either you get them or not. BUT- The great thing about " At The End Of Time" is the depured synthesis of the "soundscapes" language. Self-demanding artistry evolution and refinement led its way to this kind of result. So, if assumed that there are no close to "eclectic-prog" average roots, this will fairly be considered "Electronic-Prog". It has all its elements, but the totally electric guitar generated sounds and distortions. Close to "Ambient" in spirit and "symphonic-prog"- related, because its well defined melodic lines. This project has no flaws. One of those rare efforts which cover the whole scope and intention without losing grip or forcing the outcome."Loosely/Tight" performance with the makings of perfection. And "friendly" as beauty usually is. *****5 "Flawless original and unique compositions with a self-impossed perfect pitch performance" Stars. A perfect "world" of completely original music!

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Send comments to admireArt (BETA) | Report this review (#886460)
Posted Wednesday, January 02, 2013 | Review Permalink

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