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Robert Fripp

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Robert Fripp The Gates Of Paradise album cover
4.03 | 65 ratings | 8 reviews | 32% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1997

Songs / Tracks Listing

- The Outer Darkness (23:38) :
1. The Outer Darkness (5:02)
2. Perimeter I (1:19)
3. Perimeter II (0:58)
4. Wailing I (1:58)
5. Perimeter III (1:15)
6. Wailing II (3:26)
7. Perimeter IV (1:23)
8. Wailing III (3:05)
9. Black Light (4:05)
10. A Wailing And Gnashing Of Teeth (1:01)
- The Gates Of Paradise (13:56) :
11. Abandonment To Divine Providence (5:22)
12. Pie Jesu (8:34)
- The Outer Darkness (10:17) :
13. In Fear And Trembling Of The Lord (10:17)
- The Gates Of Paradise (11:41) :
14. Sometimes God Hides (6:53)
15. Acceptance (4:48)

Total time 59:26

Line-up / Musicians

- Robert Fripp / guitar, soundscapes & Fx (Frippertronics), co-producer

- David Singleton / "digital compositor" (SADiE software), co-producer

Releases information

Artwork: "The Gates of Paradise" by John Miller

CD Discipline Global Mobile ‎- DGM 9608 (1997, UK)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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ROBERT FRIPP The Gates Of Paradise ratings distribution

(65 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(32%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(32%)
Good, but non-essential (20%)
Collectors/fans only (11%)
Poor. Only for completionists (5%)

ROBERT FRIPP The Gates Of Paradise reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Eetu Pellonpaa
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This record represents us Robert Fripp's 1990's soundscape playing, now done mostly in the studio, and in my opinion stands as a culmination point for his spiritual solo works. There are few parts which were recorded live according the record booklet, and the music sequences are mixed together as two contrasting suites. "The Outer Darkness" dwells in the frightful spheres of purgatory, and "The Gates of Paradise" float in the ever blissful states of nirvana, escaping my talent of vocabulary description. The abstract and cacophonous sinister sequences hold their balance with interesting logics, longer drones giving the shape forming monumentally, and the tenderness of divine moments flow with unbelievably slow pace, enjoying each step closer to Eden. From this religious concept Mr. Fripp has also done some notes, following his severe philosophic contemplation of late hours, these results being recorded to the essays of the booklet.

As a sad anecdote, the marvelous starting sound field "The Outer Darkness" was recycled to King Crimson's "Power to Believe" album. This doesn't lower the status of "The Gates of Paradise" CD, but irritated me strongly as I listened the previously mentioned KC album. Possibly I felt there was a risk of staining this album's sanctity, when associating with post-Bruford Crimson record I did not like. The motive was possibly same than using "(No Pussyfooting)" tapes on Wetton-era Crimson lives as an opener.

Review by ThulŽatan
5 stars The ever-evolving Soundscapes series reached new heights with this long-awaited album, 'The Gates Of Paradise'. Returning to the ideals of 'That Which Passes', various live improvised performances were edited and meshed with studio material to create a much tighter, more 'narrative' album. 'The Gates Of Paradise' depicts in sound two powerful, conflicting states: absolute terror, and enveloping peace. Respectively, in Fripp's chosen terminology: darkness (hell), and paradise. The former state sees the album visit some of the most disturbing sounds yet produced by Fripp - taking into account his entire career with King Crimson, not just Soundscapes - making this yet again a challenging listen, but somehow strangely accessible because of the strong stamps left by such intense moments.

The first and longest piece is a suite comprising parts I to X of 'The Outer Darkness', or the 'hell' side. This track is itself (for the most part) split up into a further two distinct dimensions, the 'Perimeter' and the 'Wailing', and in alternating between them manages to portray a deep, agonising struggle. As their titles imply, the 'Perimeter' Soundscapes create an impression of floating in limbo, but looming close to something immense, using familiar low rumbling sounds and adding distant breaths of complex string chords. The experience of the perimeter then develops in between bouts of wailing, progressively daring to draw nearer to this vast force, and more activity can be heard - simmering frustration, anticipated but from a reasonably safe distance. The 'Wailing' tracks themselves, however, are the moments where you take the dive, and face whatever it is that waits in the darkness. Listening attentively at night, it is difficult not to be alarmed when 'Wailing I' first breaks out; like an unspeakable creature guarding a place you fear to tread, Fripp makes his guitar scream like no person or animal you've ever heard. The cry disturbs the whole sound field... it burns in a whorl of noise, deafening and inescapable as if the wailing is that of your own mind. From here, the listener retreats, then returns, retreats, returns, each time meeting this fierce resistance but each time coming more to terms with it, learning from it, until eventually there is less distinction between the perimeter and the wailing. Out of this strained reconciliation comes the beautiful part IX, 'Black Light', a shrill adagio of impossible chords, full of longing.

After twenty minutes of such unsettling sounds, the second track (comprising parts I and II of 'The Gates Of Paradise') opens mercifully with a much lighter, airy feel, and along with mysterious twists in the melody paints a picture of total reprieve from the darkness. We are placed instead in a garden of safety, but one with a strong overtone of hesitation or vigilance, which also builds steadily on its foundations, deepening the bass and harmonies, growing into a sense of awe. The listener is allowed just long enough in this state of peace to drop their defences, only to be shaken to the core when track three begins. 'The Outer Darkness' part XI opens with a familiar, chilling shriek, and goes on to subject us to a gruelling ten-minute confrontation with the 'creatures' as we are drawn back from the Gate and tortured by the implications of trying to pass.

The fourth suite, 'The Gates Of Paradise' parts III and IV, is another - and more final - experience of the Gate; but it seems very different from the first visit. Extreme, icy stillness plays host to the distant sounds of transient bells and almost machine-like interruptions. Analogous with our true freedom within this place, is Fripp's free playing over and above the usual loops with a piano-style sound. It is like we are now free to develop, though there looms still a passing grief. In IV, this is manifested in our acceptance of all that has come before - a final Soundscape, gentle and even, with a sense of leaving the struggle far behind, resigned to whatever the future may bring.

While I view Fripp's choice of overtly Christian track titles as somewhat distasteful (particularly 'Pie Jesu'), in the end they are merely a distraction from the essentially human themes on display, and there is simply no denying how powerful and direct the music is on this album. A strong candidate for the best Soundscapes release to date, and possibly the album of Fripp's career.

Review by admireArt
5 stars Otherwise ,soundscaping through Heaven and Hell.

In 1997 Robert Fripp released "The Gates of Paradise" . Whatever the story perfectly explained, as always, in his own words in this release's booklet, this release is an emotional catharsis which beauty and ugliness can be "understood" as a personal emotional experience by almost anyone.

Anyone who already is acquainted with Fripp's second "electronically processed" electric guitat/drone styling, which he calls Soundscapes. And for those who have dwelled beyond Prog's borderlines into that strangely demanding "classical music" lands, and to make things a bit more fun, the contemporary ones.

If not take the plunge and read no further and let yourself go, as I did once, then you decide.

An electronic music conmemoration of life and death, taken as a symbolic parallel of our daily existences and the ever present cosmic transmutations in accordance between with our petty human dimension and our potential proportion in our own universes and the higher ones.

In able to achieve such a daring assignment, Robert Fripp emerges as refined architect of his musical idiom and at the same time a demolisher in search of nothingness the same. A catharsis, as I mentioned, whose less worry is to be friendly, opposite to that it becomes personal up to the point of universality. The signature of a true artist.

Climb the ladder!

*****5 PA stars.

Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars This was an interesting listen the first time I heard it because it sounds nothing like I thought it would. Many consider this to be Fripp's best "soundscape" album and I have to confess the only other solo Fripp album I own is called "Exposure" which is a song based album. It might just be the subject matter(ya think?) but the music is melancholic and haunting to almost scary at times. It consists of four long tracks with tracks one and three called "The Outer Darkness" or Hell, and tracks two and four called "The Gates Of Paradise" or Heaven. It doesn't show it on the track listing on PA here but each song is broken down into sub-titles which certainly gives us some context.

I have to admit I didn't know this album had a concept to it when I bought it but once I found that out I was reminded of Fripp's guest appearance on IONA's "Beyond These Shores" record some four years earlier as he added his Frippertronics to that Christian band's album. The connection between the two isn't the music but the Christian themes.

Things get started with the longest tune on here "The Outer Darkness" clocking in at just under 24 minutes. Man I found this annoying at times, specifically during the "Wailing" sections that crop up four different times. It almost sounds like processed organ that is very loud. Again to me this is more annoying than scary. Love the start though with that powerful atmosphere that settles back around 5 minutes. The first arrival of the "wailing" section comes in around 7 1/2 minutes and it sounds like an angry church organ. This happens three more times over the length of this long track. I much prefer the spacey and mellow soundscape 19 minutes in. "The Gates Of Paradise" sort of drifts along and the organ-like sounds are softer here and more enjoyable for sure.

The third track "The Outer Darkness" starts off loud and annoying and this continues pretty much throughout. Yes this is my least favourite track and it's sub-titled "In Fear And Trembling Of The Lord". "The Gates Of Paradise" ends the album and it's my favourite soundscape on here. And this does sound different from the rest and it's more interesting as well with more variety of sounds added this time around. It's still haunting and spacey though. A change around 7 minutes as it calms right down. This final part is called "Acceptance". Nice. Beautiful stuff.

I wish this moved me like it does others but it doesn't, and the enjoyment factor is quite low so 3 stars it is.

Latest members reviews

2 stars Robert has a fun in making some guitar and piano ambient sounds, some harsh noises, strange, weird material, in here. First piece has some harm and rough, higly pitched, high frequency guitar noises, similar to noises of high notes of organ. This is hardly listenable. He describes a fear that im ... (read more)

Report this review (#140504) | Posted by nisandzic | Tuesday, September 25, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Robert Fripp presents a range of musical styles that can easily make you dizzy. This album in particular holds the key to Fripp's world-famous Soundscapes. Each of Soundscape albums shows a different mood, and this one seems to be concerned with the theme of good and evil. This is, nonetheless, a ... (read more)

Report this review (#112447) | Posted by Lakesfield | Saturday, February 17, 2007 | Review Permanlink

2 stars This album contains two long soundscapes, "The Outer Darkness" and "The Gates Of Paradise", each divided in two parts. While "The Outer Darkness" is very dissonant, aggressive and makes you cower in fear, "The Gates Of Paradise" is beautiful and very emotional. The highlights on this album ar ... (read more)

Report this review (#74719) | Posted by zaxx | Wednesday, April 12, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars IMHO it is absolutely the best Fripp's solo album. Listening to "Gates..." is a very strong experience, going far beyond the bounds of "music" or "esthetics". I know it is like that with every great music, but this case is really special. Not to be listened very often, perhaps; but also absolu ... (read more)

Report this review (#68958) | Posted by kajetan | Friday, February 10, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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