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Robert Fripp - The Robert Fripp String Quintet: The Bridge Between CD (album) cover


Robert Fripp

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3 stars This album - "The Bridge Between" - from The Robert Fripp String Quintet is mostly a California Guitar Trio album, with a little help from Robert Fripp and Trey Gunn. It mostly mixes CGT songs with Classical J.S. Bach compositions - only two songs are written by the team Fripp/Gunn. I would recommend this album for any fan of the Trio - but maybe not for fans of Robert Fripp/KC music.

The album starts with two classic CGT compositions: "Kan - Non Power" and "Yamanashi Blues". With "Blockhead", they are simply three remixed songs from CTG's debut album "Yamanashi Blues" mostly played on acoustic guitar. "Hope" is probably the only song where the five guitarists really work together - the CGT provides the rhythm section with acoustic guitars and the duo Fripp/Gunn builds the melody. "Chromatic Fantasy", "Contrapunctus" and "Passacaglia" are the classical Bach pieces that can be found on every CGT album - the first one being dissonant and very irritating, the other two mostly melodic. "Blue" is more in the style of Trey Gunn solo albums - dark and melodic. Then the closing soundscape: "Threnody For Souls In Torment" - really something not to listen alone in the dark... it really gives a meaning to the word "fear".

Rating: 73/100

Report this review (#72407)
Posted Monday, March 20, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Robert Fripp's continuing work not only as instrumentalist/composer/leader but as active teacher is, to say the least, prolific. These highlights from performances in Italy, Argentina, the U.S. and Britain are beautiful, crystal-recorded examples of the String Quintet; his immensely talented apprentices Bert Lams, Paul Richards and Hideyo Moriya (better known as the California Guitar Trio), as well as Robert and Trey Gunn on Grand Stick. What is even more interesting is that this record could appeal to fans of Yngwie Malmsteen as much as to those of King Crimson. But that's the beauty of this project: the lads don't care for labels and don't use 'em.

Track after track simmers with classical heat and six-string flash, such as the confident opener 'Kan-Non Power', the playful and bouncy 'Yamanashi Blues' and the inviting calm of 'Hope'. Bach pieces like 'Contrapunctus' and 'Passacaglia' are clean and lush, and 'Bicycling to Afghanistan' - the centerpiece here and an instrumental triumph - is a guitar lover's wet dream. But the album remains buoyant to the end with 'Blockhead', a prime example of this ensemble's work and proof that the core of the RFSQ is more than just a group of hangers-on or a bunch of starry-eyed wannabes who desire nothing more than to be an incorporeal personification of their leader. Seemingly unnoticed and underappreciated, this is a terrific set and is superior to any record by the California Guitar Trio themselves. The closer is the moody twelve-minute soundscape 'Threnody for Souls in Torment'. A big winner this CD and a nice change of pace.

Report this review (#108219)
Posted Sunday, January 21, 2007 | Review Permalink
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars This is actually one of my favorite non-King Crimson Fripp albums after Exposure. I wish he spent more time working on music like this than those mind numbingly boring "Frippertronics" albums.

Here, Fripp and Trey Gunn, the very talented stick player from the most recent incarnations of King Crimson, team up with The California Guitar Trio to play some modern chamber music. To solidify the chamber music feel, there are some actual J.S. Bach pieces, as well as some original pieces in the same vein. The steel stringed acoustic guitars of the CGT, played in perfect precision, have a sound not unlike a harpsichord, and capture the mood exquisitely. Here, the Frippertronics added as washes behind the music adds depth to the pieces, and Gunn's stick adds a solid bottom to the music as well.

The only Crimson-like piece on the album is the eerie Threnody For Souls In Torment, a soundscape piece somewhat reminiscent of The Deception Of The Thrush improvs, without many of the sound effect overlays.

A solid four stars for this one.

Report this review (#251943)
Posted Friday, November 20, 2009 | Review Permalink
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 was 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", the latter not exactly 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.

Report this review (#585446)
Posted Friday, December 9, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars In a not so Faraway place, known to us commoners as "classical music", there came upon the world a musical movement known as minimalism. This "style" diverted in all sorts of directions. Minimalism works both, with fast-diminute structures to create a "whole" (like baroque music), or the slow-passage of a complete structure as a "whole composition" like Lou Reed´s "Metal Machine Music" to set a Rock-related known example, but of course Phillip Glass is a better one .

"The Bridge Between" plays mostly with the first mentioned pace, diminute guitar patterns counterpointed by a second and a third and a fourth (sometimes wide; sometimes thin electric guitar "frippertonics"/"soundscapes"; and everything wrapped within a 5th element, which constructs an environmental backdrop for the rest to play inside..( Trey Gunn and Fripp will switch places in this task.).

The first 3 elements are the quiet overlooked and talented "California Guitar Trio" which is a working guitar trio but not from California- The combination plays perfectly to match. (A string quintet with the understanding that " the strings" used are a wide variety of acoustic/electric-guitars.)

Therefore, we have 5 talented and inventive guitar player performings simmultaneously in 6 original compositions and 4 borrowed ones (JS Bach,A. Dehonestis, J.P. Sinks, and C Golden) The fantastic all guitar environment; may draw you back to Steve Reich´s guitar counterpoints; but this is a whole different approach. For starters the musical language is not like Reich´s, except for the counterpointing).

The pieces are agressive and experimental but they all (except the last) have the "friendly" California Guitar Trio touch. The intelligent and captivating songs measure up to high standards and are non-repetitive, to avoid this they re-fresh the focus, with 3 different mooded pieces. The beautiful ethereal "Blue" piece is one , other the Trey Gunn showcase composition "Contrapunctus" and the third the long "frippertronic" piece that closes down the project.

****4 "excellent /original, classical like mimimalism, and all Prog-oriented guitar compositions and performances" PA stars.

Report this review (#886502)
Posted Wednesday, January 2, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars You don't need to be a Robert Fripp fan to enjoy this album.

Anyone who enjoys and appreciates great guitar music played expertly should enjoy this.

Don't be put off if you're not a fan of Fripp's solo work. This album is very different (mostly) and is built around the talents of the California Guitar Trio, along with Fripp and Trey Gunn.

The album is an exhibition of classical guitar combined with often distorted electric guitar or stick.

"Bicycling to Afghanistan" is one of the stand out tracks on the album. The fast paced picking of the classical guitar combined with the heavy rhythm of the base guitar perfectly evokes the sense of bicycling through mountainous terrain towards Afghanistan. You feel that this track should be used as the introductory music to Tour De France coverage or something.

"Passacaglia" is a wonderful piece, with it's intricately winding and interweaving classical guitar pieces building to a climax where all of the guitars sing in unison.

My only issue with this album is the final piece "Threnody for Souls in Torment".

It's not that it's a bad piece in itself, and, on a different album, it would probably work well.

It's just that it seems terribly out of place on this album. It is a very dark and brooding track that has everything to do with Robert Fripp's solo work and little to do with the California Guitar Trio.

The other tracks on the album are much lighter in tone and "Threnody" feels like a Halloween costume at a summer wedding. It just doesn't belong on this album.

But "Threnody" should not put you off from owning this album, and I would recommend anyone who loves the guitar to buy this album and have it as part of your collection.

A little gem in my opinion.

Report this review (#2048745)
Posted Sunday, October 28, 2018 | Review Permalink

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