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FRED FRITH

RIO/Avant-Prog • United Kingdom


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Fred Frith biography
Multi instrumentalist, composer and improviser Fred Frith is one of the most prolific and versatile musicians of the last 50 years. Born in 1949, he first came to prominence as guitarist/violinist/pianist/xylophone player and one of the principal composers in the seminal RIO band Henry Cow. While working with Henry Cow he also appeared as a guest on numerous other albums by the likes of Brian Eno, Robert Wyatt and Jade Warrior (among many others). He released his first solo album, guitar solos, in 1974, a collection of improvised or semi improvised pieces for electric guitar, usually modified or prepared in some way.

Following the demise of Henry Cow in 1978, Frith embarked upon a career that would take him into all kinds of weird and wonderful places; at the time of writing, he had appeared on over 400 albums. In 1979 he relocated to New York, where he came into contact with the city's thriving improvised music scene. He released 2 solo albums at around this time: Gravity was recorded with members of the Muffins and Zammla Mammaz Manna, while Speechless featured Etron Fou Leloublan and Massacre, the avant prog power trio he formed with Bill Laswell and Fred Maher. At the same time he was working with Art Bears, Massacre and in an improvising duo with former Henry Cow drummer Chris Cutler, with whom he has released 3 CDs to date. Another solo album, Cheap at Half The Price, appeared in 1983, and he also worked in Skeleton Crew with Tom Cora in the early to mid 80s. Throughout all this he was a regular guest on other artists projects, including The Residents, and his reputation as a composer was growing. In the late 80s he assembled Keep The Dog, a touring band which played selections from throughout his career, usually radically rearranged. In 1990 he joined John Zorn's Naked City project as bassist - he and Zorn have also worked as a free jazz duo. Albums were released of his music for theatre, dance and film and his improvising career also continued unabated. In 1999 he became professor of composition at Mills College, California.

Given the sheer size and scope of Frith's discography, the entries here will initially be restricted to solo projects which broadly speaking can be classified as rock music. Newcomers should start with the excellent Gravity and Speechless, which contain Frith's vision of dance music and some of the most enjoyable RIO ever recorded. See also Massacre, Skeleton Crew, Art Bears and Henry Cow.

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Technology of Tears (And Other Music for Dance)Technology of Tears (And Other Music for Dance)
Import
RecRec Music/SST 2008
Audio CD$11.10
$7.75 (used)
Clearing CustomsClearing Customs
Intakt 2011
Audio CD$14.83
$15.95 (used)
SpeechlessSpeechless
East Side Digital 1992
Audio CD$410.34
$6.99 (used)
Right Now on Ebay (logo)
ROVA SAXOPHONE QUARTET Long on Logic Fred Frith & Henry Kaiser SOUND ASPECTS LP US $18.00 Buy It Now 1h 29m
FRED FRITH EVELYN GLENNIE The Sugar Factory CD 2007 NEW US $13.99 Buy It Now 3h 7m
FRED FRITH RIVERS & TIDES CD DIGIPACK GERMAN 2003 AVANTE GARDE SOUNDTRACK US $12.95 Buy It Now 4h 37m
FRED FRITH HAPPY END PROBLEM CD DIGIPACK USA 2006 NM AVANTE GARDE FRA 05 US $12.95 Buy It Now 4h 58m
CHRIS CUTLER & FRED FRITH LIVE MOSCOW PRAGUE & WASHINGTON UK CD NM AVANTE GARDE US $12.95 Buy It Now 7h 28m
Trouser Press Magazine 1981 Alice Cooper Plasmatics Fred Frith Bolan Yardbirds US $14.99 Buy It Now 9h 44m
Rebby Sharp - In One Mouth... LP (Shimmy Disc, 1990) w/Kramer, Fred Frith US $9.99 Buy It Now 13h 54m
FRED FRITH - THE SUGAR FACTORY * - NEW CD US $13.15 Buy It Now 15h 35m
VIOLENT FEMMES THE BLIND LEADING THE NAKED FRED FRITH USA LP US $47.49 Buy It Now 1 day
Fred Frith/ Rene Lussier - Nous Autres 1986 Victo original LP RIO Henry Cow US $19.99 Buy It Now 1 day
Fred Frith - Bob Ostertag -Phil Minton - Voice of America. Original 1982 Rift LP US $27.99 Buy It Now 1 day
Don Giovanni by JIM STALEY (CD, 1992, Einstein) feat Fred Frith, Zena Parkins... US $8.99 Buy It Now 1 day
V/A "Mighty Risen Plea" 2xLP '90 Fred Frith Hakim Bey Jody Grind Moe Tucker US $12.99 [0 bids]
1 day
David Moss Full House Fred Frith John Zorn Bill Laswell Arto Lindsay 1988 LP NM US $20.33 Buy It Now 1 day
FRED FRITH - FRED FRITH: ELEVENTH HOUR [DIGIPAK] * - NEW CD BOXSET US $31.30 Buy It Now 1 day
FRED FRITH/CHRIS CUTLER-LIMOGES 7" 45 RPM clear vinyl/hand screened (Henry Cow) US $39.98 [0 bids]
US $51.98 Buy It Now
1 day
FRED FRITH - NOWHERE SIDESHOW THIN AIR (752725902120) - NEW CD US $13.66 Buy It Now 2 days
JAPAN import ONNYK In a Trice CD Bishop Records FRED FRITH John Zorn NEW! w/OBI US $19.98 Buy It Now 2 days
Henry Cow Legend Virgin VR13-107 Firstl US Release Fred Frith Mike Oldfield EX US $34.99 [0 bids]
2 days
Henry Cow Unrest RED 002 12"vinyl jazz LP Gatefold 1979 Fred Frith M- US $34.99 [0 bids]
2 days
BUY OR DIE 1980 1/2 "THE ESIDENTS/SNAKEFINGER/YELLO/FRED FRITH" RARE W/P/S US $10.00 [0 bids]
2 days
The Tango Lesson Soundtrack CD NEW! Thomas Bloch, Fred Frith, Sally Potter US $8.20 Buy It Now 2 days
Fred Frith - Freedom In Fragments [CD New] US $16.01 Buy It Now 2 days
Original 1980 Ralph U.S. LP in shrink Fred Frith " Gravity " / post - Henry Cow US $21.88 Buy It Now 2 days
FRED FRITH - IMPUR [DIGIPAK] - NEW CD US $13.66 Buy It Now 3 days
BILL LASWELL Baselines LP Fred Frith JAZZ George Lewis MUSICIAN 9 org NM Ponce US $16.99 Buy It Now 3 days
Fred Frith Noel Akchote 10" LP Reel 1996 Henry Cow Art Bears Mint- US $14.99 Buy It Now 3 days
FRED FRITH - "Cheap At Half The Price" EX, vinyl LP US $13.50 Buy It Now 3 days
Fred Frith OST LP The Top Of His Head 1989 Henry Cow Mint- US $16.99 Buy It Now 3 days
RUDOLPH GREY - IMPLOSION-73 7" Clear Sonic Youth Pere Ubu Fred Frith Mars US $8.09 [0 bids]
3 days
Fred Frith - Pacifica [CD New] US $15.95 Buy It Now 3 days
Fred Frith : Nad Ghosts CD US $13.37 Buy It Now 3 days
Material LP Memory Serves NM Fred Frith Henry Threadgill Sonny Sharrock + US $4.00 [0 bids]
3 days
FRED FRITH - PACIFICA (1993-95) NEW CD US $20.58 Buy It Now 3 days
JOHN ZORN / FRED FRITH - LATE WORKS NEW CD US $20.58 Buy It Now 3 days
FRED FRITH / ENSEMBLE MODERN - TRAFFIC CONTINUES NEW CD US $24.52 Buy It Now 3 days
Frith: Traffic Continues / Frith, Mori, Parkins, et al by Fred Frith *New CD* US $12.48 Buy It Now 3 days
Place of General Happiness SEALED cassette V.2 w/ FRED FRITH, BRAVE COMBO US $14.95 Buy It Now 3 days
Pacifica by Fred Frith (CD 1998) NO UPC NM TZADIK TZ 7034 WORDS BY PABLO NERUDA US $5.99 Buy It Now 3 days
FRED FRITH*CHRIS CUTLER(HENRY COW) Live At The Stone CD US $29.99 Buy It Now 3 days
JOHN ZORN/FRED FRITH - LATE WORKS - NEW CD US $13.58 Buy It Now 4 days
FRED FRITH MARK DRESSER IKUE MORI LATER..CANADA VICTO 2000 AVANTE GARDE CD US $16.20 Buy It Now 4 days
Fred Frith CD Dalaba Frith Glick Reiman Kihlstedt Free Improvisation Henry Cow US $4.99 [0 bids]
US $9.99 Buy It Now
4 days
Jim Staley - Mumbo Jumbo Rift 1986 Avant Garde John Zorn Fred Frith Ikue Mori US $38.00 [0 bids]
US $50.00 Buy It Now
4 days
SEIGEN ONO COMME DES GARCONS VOL 1 1998 CD Fred Frith John Zorn Hector Zazou US $7.07 [0 bids]
4 days
SEIGEN ONO COMME DES GARCONS VOL 2 1989 CD Fred Frith, John Zorn US $7.07 [0 bids]
4 days
SEIGEN ONO FORTY DAYS/ OST SOUNDTRACK 1991 CD Fred Frith John Zorn US $7.07 [1 bids]
4 days
SEIGEN ONO SEIGEN 1986 CD Fred Frith John Zorn Ryuichi Sakamoto Hector Zazou US $7.07 [1 bids]
4 days
With Enemies Like These, Who Needs Friends? by Henry Kaiser/Fred Frith CD US $3.99 [0 bids]
4 days
BILL LASWELL/FRED FRITH BASELINES STILL SEALED LP RECORD US $29.99 Buy It Now 4 days
Gravity [Expanded] by Fred Frith (CD, 1990, East Side Digit) US $15.00 [0 bids]
US $25.00 Buy It Now
4 days
Fred Frith & Tim Hodgkinson Live Improvisations * WOOF 013/ Megaphone 002 !! CD US $8.00 [0 bids]
US $10.50 Buy It Now
4 days
Fred Frith - J.P. Drouet - Louis Sclavis I DREAM OF YOU JUMPING CD CAN 777405007 US $9.98 [0 bids]
4 days
Fred Frith/Bob Ostertag/Phil Minton VOICE OF AMERICA LP USA Rift M-/M- US $24.98 [0 bids]
4 days
RALPH RECORDS PRESENTS - RESIDENTS/SNAKEFINGER/MX80 SOUND/YELLO/FRED FRITH/ MORE US $8.00 [0 bids]
4 days
FRED FRITH The Technology Of Tears 2 LP Orig '88 SST 172 Henry Cow john zorn oop US $39.00 Buy It Now 4 days
Tempted to Smile by Fred Frith/ John Oswald/ Jonathan Segel (CD, Spool US $13.00 Buy It Now 4 days
Fred Frith ?Cheap At Half The Price orig Ralph LP 1983 Henry COW art bears prog! US $49.00 Buy It Now 4 days
Fred Frith - Cheap At Half the Price LP Ralph Records US $14.99 [0 bids]
4 days
Fred Frith & Henry Kaiser With Enemies Like This Who Needs.. CD Super Shape! US $4.99 [0 bids]
4 days
US 1st press FRED FRITH Speechless LP Ralph FF 8106 w/Inner B.LASWELL Massacre US $39.98 Buy It Now 4 days
US import JOHN ZORN FRED FRITH Late Works CD TZADIK 2010 NEW Sealed US $14.99 Buy It Now 4 days
Fred Frith ?- Cheap At Half The Price US orig' SEALED Ralph LP 1983 Henry COW US $34.99 Buy It Now 5 days
FRED FRITH speechless LP Record SEALED 1981 US $27.50 Buy It Now 5 days
FRED FRITH - EYE TO EAR, VOL. 2 - NEW CD US $13.64 Buy It Now 5 days
Hopes and Fears Art Bears Chris Cutler/Fred Frith/Dagmar Krause 12" LP M- US $29.99 [0 bids]
US $39.99 Buy It Now
5 days
Fred Frith US $20.00 Buy It Now 5 days
Fred Frith 7" 45 HEAR NEW WAVE PSYCH Dancing In The Strret RALPH What A Dilemma US $15.00 Buy It Now 5 days
HENRY COW In Praise of Learning Fred Frith Chris Cutler 180 gram SEALED LP US $44.97 Buy It Now 5 days
FRED FRITH-THE TECHNOLOGY OF TEARS-Henry Cow-orig SST dbl LP-vinyl EX cover US $14.98 [0 bids]
US $19.98 Buy It Now
5 days
Etron Fou Leloublan Face Aux Elements Dechaines LP Import Prog Rock Fred Frith US $30.00 Buy It Now 5 days
DRIVE TO HEAVEN, WELCOME TO CHAOS: Henry Kaiser, Fred Frith, Der Plan, John Zorn US $37.77 Buy It Now 5 days
John Zorn Fred Frith - Late Works CD US $18.20 Buy It Now 5 days
Henry Cow ?CD Stockholm & Göteborg Fred Frith Chris Cutler Lindsay Cooper US $15.81 [0 bids]
6 days
Chris Cutler / Fred Frith CD 2 Gentlemen In Verona Live April 16 1999 Henry Cow US $12.21 [0 bids]
6 days
Fred Frith; Arte Quartett-Still Urban CD NEW US $17.75 Buy It Now 6 days
Fred Frith; Arte Quartett; ...-The Big Picture CD NEW US $17.75 Buy It Now 6 days
Death Ambient Kato Hideki/Ikue Mori/Fred Frith CD US $8.00 Buy It Now 6 days
FRED FRITH IKUE MORI ZEENA PARKINS Ensemble Modern CD for Tom Cora US $9.99 Buy It Now 6 days
To Sail, To Sail by Fred Frith *New CD* US $9.97 Buy It Now 6 days
SHIMMY DISC LP Fred Frith Shockabilly Tuli Kupferberg US $14.99 Buy It Now 6 days
MATERIAL - Memory Serves FRENCH LP FRED FRITH US $17.99 Buy It Now 6 days
MATERIAL Memory Serves LP '82 promo bill laswell fred frith sharrok sonny rare! US $19.00 Buy It Now 6 days
FRED FRITH - DIGITAL WILDLIFE * - NEW CD US $13.83 Buy It Now 7 days
Art Bears Coda To Man And Boy 7" Fred Frith Dagmar Krause US $15.99 Buy It Now 7 days
Phil Minton Sealed Vinyl LP Solo Singing (Fred Frith, Eugene Nowacki, Bob Humm) US $58.02 [0 bids]
7 days
Fred Frith KEEP THE DOG THAT HOUSE WE LIVED IN [digipak] 2-CD new US $28.00 Buy It Now 7 days
Fred Frith CHEAP AT HALF THE PRICE [digipak] CD new US $10.00 Buy It Now 7 days
NAD "ghosts" w/ FRED FRITH,HENRY KAISER 1989 Italian RARE CD album*JAZZ*LIKE NEW US $18.00 Buy It Now 7 days
TONE DOGS Ankety Low Day LP Vinyl Matt Cameron Soundgardern Fred Frith US $14.95 Buy It Now 7 days
FRED FRITH / EVELYN GLENNIE - SUGAR FACTORY NEW CD US $20.58 Buy It Now 7 days
Pacifica by Fred Frith *New CD* US $10.00 Buy It Now 7 days
UK OAO press THE GOLDEN PALOMINOS same self titled LP FRED FRITH Arto Lindsay US $79.98 Buy It Now 7 days
Knitting Factory 2 - Fred Frith Joey Baron 1991 MINT CD US $39.99 Buy It Now 8 days
FRED FRITH / JEAN PIERRE / SCLAVIS DROUET - I DREAM OF YOU JUMPING NEW CD US $20.21 Buy It Now 8 days
CHRIS CUTLER/FRED FRITH Live in Prague & Washington LP US $29.99 Buy It Now 8 days
Fred Frith Dancing in the Street 45 US $9.99 Buy It Now 8 days
Bob OSTERTAG Attention Span CD RecRec John ZORN Fred FRITH US $14.43 Buy It Now 8 days
ART BEARS, Hopes and Fears USA 1st pressing EXC- LP FRED FRITH DAGMAR KRAUSE+ US $24.99 Buy It Now 8 days
GOLDEN PALOMINOS, The Golden Palominos USA 1st press A2 matrix LP FRED FRITH US $11.99 Buy It Now 8 days

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FRED FRITH shows & tickets


  • Fred Frith Trio (GB/USA) on 21 Feb 2015

FRED FRITH discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

FRED FRITH top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.06 | 13 ratings
Guitar Solos
1974
4.00 | 1 ratings
With Friends Like These (with Henry Kaiser )
1979
4.01 | 33 ratings
Gravity
1980
4.05 | 17 ratings
Speechless
1981
3.00 | 1 ratings
Voice Of America (with Bob Ostertag / Phil Minton)
1982
4.00 | 1 ratings
Who Needs Enemies ? (with Henry Kaiser)
1983
0.00 | 0 ratings
French Gigs (with Lol Coxhill)
1983
3.76 | 12 ratings
Cheap at Half the Price
1983
4.04 | 8 ratings
The Technology Of Tears - And Other Music For Dance And Theatre
1988
2.92 | 3 ratings
The Top of His Head
1989
4.00 | 2 ratings
Fred & Ferd - Dropera
1991
3.00 | 2 ratings
Helter Skelter (with François-Michel Pesenti )
1992
5.00 | 2 ratings
Quartets
1993
0.00 | 0 ratings
Subsonic 1 - Sounds Of A Distant Episode (with Marc Ribot)
1994
5.00 | 1 ratings
Middle Of The Moment
1995
3.71 | 9 ratings
Allies
1996
3.00 | 1 ratings
Eye To Ear
1997
0.00 | 0 ratings
En Public Aux Laboratoires D'Aubervilliers Improvisations (with Jean-Pierre Drouet )
1997
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Previous Evening
1997
4.67 | 3 ratings
Pacifica
1998
3.96 | 7 ratings
Traffic Continues
2000
4.04 | 6 ratings
Clearing
2001
4.00 | 3 ratings
Digital Wildlife
2002
0.00 | 0 ratings
Accidental
2002
3.09 | 3 ratings
Freedom In Fragments
2002
5.00 | 1 ratings
Prints
2002
4.00 | 2 ratings
Rivers and Tides { working with time
2003
0.00 | 0 ratings
Eye to Ear II
2004
2.00 | 1 ratings
Eleventh Hour (with Arditti String Quartet / Uwe Dierksen / William Winant )
2005
5.00 | 2 ratings
The Happy End Problem
2006
4.00 | 1 ratings
The Compass, Log, And Lead (with Stevie Wishart, Carla Kihlstedt )
2006
0.00 | 0 ratings
Cutter Heads (with Chris Brown)
2007
3.00 | 1 ratings
The Sugar Factory (Evelyn Glennie)
2007
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Big Picture (with Arte Quartett)
2008
0.00 | 0 ratings
Still Urban (with Arte Quartett)
2008
0.00 | 0 ratings
Back To Life
2008
4.00 | 4 ratings
To Sail, To Sail
2008
0.00 | 0 ratings
Nowhere. Sideshow. Thin Air
2009
3.05 | 2 ratings
Eye To Ear 3
2010

FRED FRITH Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Live In Japan:The Guitars On The Table Approach
1982
2.75 | 4 ratings
Nous Autres (with René Lussier)
1987
0.00 | 0 ratings
Ars Longa Dens Brevis (with John Zorn / Onnyk / Toyozumi Yoshisaburo)
1987
0.00 | 0 ratings
Live Improvisations (with Tim Hodgkinson)
1990
4.00 | 2 ratings
Stone, Brick, Glass, Wood, Wire (Graphic Scores 1986-96)
1999
0.00 | 0 ratings
I Dream Of You Jumping (with J.P. Drouet and Louis Sclavis)
2001
0.00 | 0 ratings
All Is Bright, But It Is Not Day (with Jean Derome, Pierre Tanguay, Myles Boisen)
2002
4.95 | 3 ratings
Keep the Dog - The House That We Lived In
2003
2.34 | 5 ratings
50th Birthday Celebration Volume 5: Fred Frith / John Zorn
2004
0.00 | 0 ratings
Impur
2006
0.00 | 0 ratings
Pas De Deux (as Frith + Roger)
2008
0.00 | 0 ratings
Impur II
2009

FRED FRITH Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

FRED FRITH Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
With Enemies Like These, Who Needs Friends? (with Henry Kaiser)
1987
4.00 | 3 ratings
Step Across the Border
1990
0.00 | 0 ratings
Fred and Ralph
1991
0.00 | 0 ratings
Friends & Enemies (with Henry Kaiser)
1999

FRED FRITH Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

FRED FRITH Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Speechless by FRITH, FRED album cover Studio Album, 1981
4.05 | 17 ratings

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Speechless
Fred Frith RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars First a big thankyou to Holy Moly (Steve) for suggesting I check this album out. This was Fred's second solo album after leaving HENRY COW and like the first one ("Gravity") he has a different lineup of musicians for each side of the original vinyl album. On "Gravity" he had SAMLA MAMMAS MANNA helping out on side one and THE MUFFINS helping out on side two plus other guests. Here it's ETRON FOU LELOUBLAN helping out on side one while on side two we get the band MASSACRE (Frith, Laswell and Maher) along with guests like SAMLA MAMMAS MANNA's Hans Bruniusson, George Cartwright, Tina Curran and more. I should mention that Fred would return the favour to ETRON FOU LELOUBLAN by producing their masterpiece of the following year "Les Poumons Gonfles" and also playing on it. He'd also help them out on their final release from 1985.

On side one we can hear samples of sounds that Fred used from street fairs from New York City along with sounds from street demonstrations. This can be heard right away on the short opener "Kick The Can Part 1" along with other sparse sounds. "Carnival On Wall Street" does sound like circus music somewhat as those tapes of street sounds again are used. This is cool. It's all so intricate and punchy and then it turns darker before 1 1/2 minutes which lasts about a minute before the previous soundscape returns. "Ahead In The Sand" opens with what sounds like deranged mellotron before percussion, horns, guitar, clapping and more comes and goes. Catchy stuff. "Laughing Matter / Esperanza" opens with street noise that builds then the music takes over. It turns more serious after a minute. Heavier too then back to the catchy intricate sound from earlier. These contrasts continue. Intense is the word after 2 minutes. Bagpipes are prominant in the latter part of this song. Street noise ends it. "Woman Speak To men ; Men Speak To Woman" is fairly strange with intricate sounds coming and going along with those taped samples. Avant is the word here. Spoken words in this one too. An insane but very good tune.

Side two begins with "A Spit In The Ocean" which opens with some very unusual sounds(haha). The rhythm section then kicks in. This is good. Horns join in and yes they too are left of center. Great track ! "Navajo" and "Speechless" were both based on live tracks performed by MASSACRE. I really like this track and it picks up late with horns. "Balance" has these prominant drums with intricate guitar then violin. Guitar is back replacing the violin 2 1/2 minutes in but not for long. "Saving Grace" has this tribal-like drumming as strange processed vocal expressions are added. Weird stuff man. "Speechless" has some deep bass and avant sounds. It sounds like woter after 2 minutes. "Conversations With White Arc" opens with a catchy rhythm as the guitar joins in. I like this ! "Domaine De Planousset" is laid back and pleasant (gasp !). "Kick The Can (Part 2)" sounding much like the opening track but better.

A solid 4 stars and certainly HENRY COW fans or for that matter ETRON FOU LELOUBLAN fans need to check this out. This is no doubt for the adventerous music listener.

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 Gravity by FRITH, FRED album cover Studio Album, 1980
4.01 | 33 ratings

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Gravity
Fred Frith RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This was Fred's first solo album after leaving HENRY COW. It really is a celebration of dance from different cultures throughout the World. The original cover art was painted by Robert Wyatt's wife Alfreda Benge which incorporates the album's title "Gravity" with the subject of dance. As others have mentioned SAMMLA MAMMAS MANNA played on side one of the original vinyl (1-6) while THE MUFFINS played on side two (7-13). Fred also gets additional help from Chris Cutler, Tina Curran, Michel Berkmans (UNIVERS ZERO) and others.

"The Boy Beats The Rams" opens with some brief laughter then intricate sounds take over including this spacey atmosphere. There is a lot humour on this album and the mood is good which shouldn't be a surprise when the subject matter is dancing I suppose. Accordion comes in and then it all builds before 2 minutes. A catchy beat follows. "Spring Any Day Now" is upbeat, catchy and fun. "Don't Cry For Me" features clapping and percussion throughout then the bass, mandolin, organ and more join in. Clapping only ends it. "The Hands Of The Juggler" is one of my favourites. We get violin and a repetitive rhythm for almost 1 1/2 minutes then they change it up and the tempo picks up. Killer stuff. Drums, violin, accordion and more before 3 1/2 minutes. "Norrgarden Nyola" is such a feel good song and I really like the guitar around a minute. "Year Of The Monkey" opens with some craziness then a rhythm with guitar takes over. More craziness later.

"What A Dilemma" is another favourite of mine. An abrasive rhythm with violin leads the way and it sounds even better when the drums join in around 1 1/2 minutes. How good is this ! "Crack In The Concrete" brings to mind the word random. "Come Across" is uptempo with a good rhythm and horns. "Dancing In The Street / My Enemy Is A Bad Man" is next and the first part is an instrumental cover of that Motown song with samples of Iranians in the background who were celebrating the capture of Americans back in the day. Weird. Man it would suck to live in Iran. The second part of this two part track is mostly guitar and percussion. Cool tune. "Slap Dance" is short but I really like it. It's the brief angular guitar section before a minute that reminds me of ANEKDOTEN that does it for me. "A Career In Real Estate" contrasts the beat with violin to the more dramatic and powerful sections. "Dancing In Rockville Maryland" has these intricate and punchy sounds before it settles right down with piano 1 1/2 minutes in.

An interesting and entertaining listen that is worth 4 stars.

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 Gravity by FRITH, FRED album cover Studio Album, 1980
4.01 | 33 ratings

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Gravity
Fred Frith RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by frippism
Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team

4 stars It's hard to actually review Fred Frith for the very first time. Probably one of the biggest geniuses of the avant-garde field, Frith manages to successfully both be a composer, a songwriter, and an improviser. Most who do enjoy his music will enjoy the more composer/ songwriter side. Frith his the uncanny ability to write very complex tunes. But the great thing about him is that he manages to mesh great pop sensibilities to his music without making them at times absolutely irresistible. This album is the epitome of Frith's pop sensibilities- one of his most accessible and fun albums, though very complex, at times dissonant, at times unnerving, and many times beautiful.

The first side here was actually recorded with "famous" RIO band Samla Mammas Manna, while the other side was recorded with US Canterbury-influenced band The Muffins, along with other dudes such as former Henry Cow bandmate and octopus drumming epic man Chris Cutler! Both sides are filled with what would become for me, Frith's easily recognizable melodies. Mad fun, always crazy, jumpy, angular, and complex. The album starts off with "The Boy Beats The Ram" which I feel is a bit of a bizarro ride of tribal drums with violins and weird guitars. Fred Frith is the master of guitar sound and his treble-y sound and distortion sounds are a big part of what makes this album great. Frith's distortion is abrasive, thick, while his clean sound is sharp, deadly precise, no funny business. The tune could turn some people off, which is funny, considering the absolutely delightful dance-pop number that comes right after "Spring Any Day Now"- which is easily one of Frith's most memorable tracks. Jazzy, kinda bluesy, with a horn section that will get you to shake you glut. Never mind that much of it is in 5/4 and never mind the weird time signature bits. It is Frith at his most charming, his most fun. It is nice to see the contrast in the first two songs as I feel it is what makes the album so entertaining- it's fun, it's humorous, lighthearted, though always a bit off, always keeping you on your toes, always taking pop music and meshing it a bit to make you slightly uncomfortable, slightly nervous.

I know these tracks so well that I can speak about each for hours, dismantling the little bits. "Don't Cry For Me" is delightfully annoying. I'd never been so happy to get a headache. Frith simplifies the melody so much, that it's almost a fly in your ear, pretty much only three notes. And along with the groovy fun bass line, it's so addicting yet so delightfully annoying that you find yourself unsure whether to dance or turn the music off! That melody can drive anyone insane, but once you get accustomed to the melody and the song, it becomes plain fun. Skipping now to "Norrgarden Nyvla" which is probably Frith's most well known tune. That is because the melody is so uplifting and unforgettable it's only natural. Frith's guitar with the piano in the background make it so uplifting. The 15/8 time signature is used so well here- the bar always ends in a sort of cliff hanger, it makes the song it much more nervous, like it is always about to fall but never does. "Year of the Monkey" picks up exactly where "Norrgarden Nyvla" left off, and again uses many layers of recording to attack the listener from many angels. The looping piano line is so cool, that with everything around it you feel like your in a smoky saloon filled with surrealists and philosophers. The recorders and the tribal drums are a good time too. The feeling as this album goes along, is that it retains the former dissonance seen in the first track. The weird guitars come back, the bizarre funky bass and the constant weird, kind of jazzy, kind of tribal drums. In "What a Dilemma" you get absolutely stormed with Frith's layers of dissonant guitars.

And then towards the end, it all becomes good fun! The tracks retain their poppy nature, their groove, while of course still being a bit of a parody on dance music. Towards the end, Frith even covers "Dancing In the Street". It ain't perfect, but the great rhythm behind it and the fun keyboard sound make it worthwhile. Suddenly it almost feels like the Residents. A slightly off melodic delivery makes the song the song feel as if Frith is actually consciously making the decision that he's interpreting the world of popular music through his eyes, he's translating it into his own musical world.

And that's what makes this album great- it is an Expressionist take on popular music and popular culture. Frith's take on avant-garde music is always challenging, but it is many times fun, and more interestingly, socially conscious, which make the music make sense, and give the album it's own great sense humor.

You want Frith, you start here.

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 Gravity by FRITH, FRED album cover Studio Album, 1980
4.01 | 33 ratings

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Gravity
Fred Frith RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by VanVanVan
Prog Reviewer

4 stars After hearing Fred Frith's first solo album Guitar Solos, I wasn't sure what to think. Despite being a big fan of Frith's work in various other groups, that first album, while certainly innovative and experimental, didn't strike me as particularly interesting to listen to. Despite this rather lukewarm first impression, I decided to give this album a chance after reading that Frith had described it as a "dance" album, with influences from folk and world music.

Indeed, I would say that this is a marked improvement over Guitar Solos. Infinitely more fun to listen to, there's nonetheless a wild spirit of adventure and experimentation that makes this the perfect blend of avant and accessible. There's a lot of variety on Gravity, from eastern European folk dances to chaotic and experimental soundscapes. A great album from a great musician.

"The Boy Beats the Rams" begins with a bit of a noisy blend of percussion and other sound effects before a faint, somewhat eastern sounding string part strikes up. This is joined by some rather atonal guitar and the track takes on a decidedly dissonant tone. Despite this, it's not hard to listen to at all, though it does feel more like an introduction to the rest of the album than it does a standalone track. It's still a very interesting listen, however; it's a nice avant opening to the album and a cool piece of experimental music.

"Spring Any Day Now" is a much more accessible track, with a very cheery, even catchy melody starting off immediately. A variety of wind instruments, guitars, and percussion create a very musically dense track, making the main melodies sound deceptively simple. To me this track really sounds like a sort of combination between the surf rock of the 60s and folk- dance music; it's an incredibly bizarre combination that nonetheless works.

"Don't Cry For Me" begins with the same kind of minimal percussion that began "The Boy Beats the Rams," but this track takes a more structured direction, combining a strong bass line with multiple guitar and keyboard parts to create a kind of avant-folk aesthetic. Strong melodies abound, but at the same time there's a lot of very weird arrangement that gives the music a fascinating experimental edge. The track concludes with a recording of some noisy clapping and other sound effects that transitions into the next track.

"Hands of the Juggler" is another great track that combines a lot of the sound and instrumentation of folk music with Frith's off kilter, experimental tendencies. This experimental side is perhaps more explicit than on the previous two tracks, with a middle section that features increasingly crazed percussion, and dreamy and dissonant chords. This section transitions beautifully into another eastern folk dance section, with what sounds like a violin backed by bass and, of all things, accordion. It's this instrumentation that plays the track out, finally giving way to a bizarre but strangely fitting outtro that consists of some chanting vocals and what sounds like a timpani.

This outtro makes another seamless transition into "Norrgarden Nyvla," one of my favorite tracks on the album. With one of the outright catchiest melodies I've ever heard from Frith, this track is just so cheerful and charming, in addition to being perfectly arranged that even the bizarre electric guitar solos don't detract from its accessibility. This is the poster child in my mind for great, accessible, experimental music: far less difficult than anything on Guitar Solos or any of Henry Cow's albums, "Norrgarden Nyvla" is still a great, experimental track that blends genres and mixes styles to create incredibly appealing music.

"Year of The Monkey" comes next, going back to a more explicitly experimental style. Chaotic and atonal music makes up about the first 30 seconds of the track before a keyboard part comes in that almost has a carnival vibe to it. Various string sounds and of course guitars add additional music behind the repeating keyboard motif, and eventually a noisy chorus of wind instruments takes over in a way that reminds me of some of the music on The United States of America's self titled album.

"What A Dilemma" begins with distorted, dissonant guitars pounding out a rhythmic chord pattern while other instruments solo over this background. This is probably the closest to the wild experimentation of Guitar Solos that Gravity comes, but even so it begins to take on a more standard form midway through the song, as the distorted riffs are traded in for a bass line and a more melodic guitar part. As these parts are being developed and a bit of the distortion and dissonance begin to return, the track ends, very suddenly kicking off the next piece.

"Crack In The Concrete" is another strange track, with a very avant-jazz sort of feeling compared to the folkier sound of many of the earlier tracks. It's also very short, with only about a minute and a half of bass-backed, experimental guitar music before the track comes to an end.

"Come Across" kicks off with a great, driving piano and bass part that are quickly joined by some winds and guitar. This is another of my favorite tracks on the album, by turns jazzy, cinematic, and decidedly avant-garde. Several great solos help the track set itself apart, with multiple instruments taking the front of the stage throughout the track before finally ending in a dreamy fadeout.

"Dancing in the Street/My Enemy Is a Bad Man" comes next, starting off with percussion and what is either a keyboard or a very distorted guitar playing over a somewhat noisy blend of sound effects. It's a fairly melodic piece despite its very avant, bizarre instrumentation; while at times the background noise comes close to taking over the track the melody is always at the front of the mix. When the motif switches midway through it takes on a much happier disposition, with guitar and piano cheerfully dueting in a way that recalls the carefree music of the early days of rock and roll. The track fades out as these instruments continue to play before finally ending in silence.

"Slap Dance" sounds like its name would suggest: the folk dance theme is back, though shades of atonality keep the listener ever so slightly off-balance. This motif is occasionally interrupted by a more melodic saxophone melody that gives the track a nice sense of balance between order and chaos. The bass makes another great appearance here as well, keeping the track firmly grounded rhythmically even when it's at its craziest.

"A Career In Real Estate" returns to a very folky feel, though it eschews the eastern European vibe for one far more rooted in Americana. A very loose, pitch-sliding violin part recalls to my ears Appalachian folk music, whether that is an intentional influence or not. This folky motif is alternated with a much darker, ominous, distorted guitar-led theme that very much gives the track a "dark/light" sort of melodic conflict that's very interesting to listen to. It is on this latter theme that the track ends before the last track begins.

The album ends on "Dancing in Rockville, Maryland," a very experimental sounding track without a lot that you could point to and call "melody." Bass, guitars and percussion create a noisy amalgamation of sound for the first section of the track. Eventually, however, a rather serene piano part takes center stage, and the rest of the instruments fall away, leaving only the keyboard to carry the track to its conclusion and the conclusion of the album.

This, I think, is the place to start if you want to get a feel for Frith's solo music. I would argue that this is even more approachable than a lot of Henry Cow stuff, and in my opinion it's far more interesting than Guitar Solos. A great album for fans of avant-garde music and perhaps even a good entry point for those who have found the genre daunting in the past.

4/5

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 50th Birthday Celebration Volume 5: Fred Frith / John Zorn by FRITH, FRED album cover Live, 2004
2.34 | 5 ratings

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50th Birthday Celebration Volume 5: Fred Frith / John Zorn
Fred Frith RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Anthony H.
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Fred Frith/John Zorn: 50th Birthday Celebration Volume 5 [2004]

Rating: 3/10

John Zorn and Fred Frith share a well-documented creative friendship. Both men are artists with strange off-kilter sensibilities, so a musical partnership between the two is a match made in heaven. Zorn's collaborations with Frith have constituted large portions of his musical life. Thus, another collaboration album was inevitable when the retrospective 50th Birthday Celebration concert series was announced. This album consists of a 45-minute-long series of improvisations. Anyone familiar with either of these musicians' improvisational styles should have fairly good idea of what to expect here. Zorn rapes the saxophone in unholy ways, creating squeaks, squawks, screams, and screeches. Those who have watched Frith improvise know that it is often more entertaining to watch than to listen to. He abuses his electric guitar with various objects, from keys to drumsticks to brushes.

So, what we have here is a steaming pie full of brutal avant-garde insanity. Zorn inhumanly strangles his sax, and Frith makes noises that I can't even begin to understand, much less describe. There are occasional melodious moments, but the majority of this performance consists of extreme dissonance and atonality. It doesn't conform to "music" as most people understand it. This album is academically interesting, but it's an enormous strain on the ears. I consider myself to be a brave musical soul, but this was still a bit much for me. Enter at your own risk.

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 The Technology Of Tears - And Other Music For Dance And Theatre by FRITH, FRED album cover Studio Album, 1988
4.04 | 8 ratings

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The Technology Of Tears - And Other Music For Dance And Theatre
Fred Frith RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Evolver
Special Collaborator Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams

4 stars I find this album, which consists of pieces commissioned for a few different dance companies, to be one of Fred Frith's most intriguing solo albums. The pieces were performed mostly in 1987 (one was in Boston, I wish I had known about it then), and all but one was written by Frith.

The title piece, taking up the entire first LP, consistes of three angular songs, featuring Frith along with John Zorn on sax, Tenko on voice, and Christan Marclay on turntables. These are quirky tracks, with blips and sounds coming together for some surprisingly coherent compositions.

The third album side is the best work. It has Frith playing most of the instruments on some splendid RIO tracks. He gets an assist from trombonist Jim Staley, but Frith's sharp guitar is the star of this side.

The last side is a series of fourteen tracks, written by Matthew Maguire, called Propaganda. These are some eerie sounding short pieces, made even weirder by noises and found recordings blended into the music. The problem with these is that they are so short that once you get the feel of what the music is doing, the song fades out.

On the whole, this is a fine Frith album (someone else must think so too, as my CD of this has disappeared from my collection).

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 Cheap at Half the Price by FRITH, FRED album cover Studio Album, 1983
3.76 | 12 ratings

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Cheap at Half the Price
Fred Frith RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Slartibartfast
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I think I paid full price for this.

The first CD release of this didn't come out until 1991. The original LP came out in the 1980's.

Recorded at home on a four track using his own instruments with pre recorded 15 second drum patterns from actual artists. A Casio 101? It's cheesy, but it works. Frith sings and more than a few of the songs are of a left political bent lyrically, which I happen to like.

There's a couple of bonus tracks put in amongst the original album tracks. Frith decided on his latest re-releases not to include the bonus tracks. Damn shame. I really love the first one, True Love, "You broke the glasses, you broke the plates, you said I don't want your money I don't want your money" The second one Person To Person fit in well as well as the first one.

Just keep in mind that some clouds may not have a silver lining, but this one does or does it?

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 Eye To Ear 3 by FRITH, FRED album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.05 | 2 ratings

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Eye To Ear 3
Fred Frith RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by snobb
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Eye To Ear III is third in 13 years Frith's collection of his written and recorded soundtrack music.The first 11 titles on this CD make up The Troja Suite,dark and in moments heavy and dynamic collection of quirky compositions for Hussi Kutulcan's "Drei Gegen Troja" movie soundtrack. Frith plays guitar,bass and keyboards, and has violinist,percussionist and trumpeter on support. If by any chance you didn't know this music is originally soundtrack when listened, possibly you could be a bit surprised:besides of some well crafted compositions (few of them even have funny a-la metal guitar attacks), many are too amorphous,unfocused and openly too long. As soundtrack, this music is great illustrative sound though.

Second part of the album is soundtrack to 2004 documentary Thirst (five compositions under common title "Water Music"). In this case the title is really representative - compositions all are liquid,almost amorphous, with strong influence of ambient and world music. Happily often balancing on the new age border,music never crosses it. Frith's guitar,bass,keyboards and violin are supported there by small orchestra of Eastern winds and strings instruments.

I never saw above mentioned films,but I expect both soundtracks could really work successfully with visual line.As separate musical release,these compositions are not essential to be listened with big interest though.

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 Allies by FRITH, FRED album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.71 | 9 ratings

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Allies
Fred Frith RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by snobb
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars This is one of my beloved Frith album. Very minimalistic, mid tempo music, not too explosive or quirky. But - one the best his work in musical sense.

There are almost all usual components you expect from Frith - RIO, free jazz, some zeuhl, some folk... Zorn/Naked City's Joey Baron is very jazzy and minimalistic-simplified, but sounds very great in contest of this music. Fantastic cellist Tom Cora is excellent as usual and I really like less known (at least for me) sax player George Cartwright - he shows fantastic free jazz improvs in the key of John Zorn.

It's really interesting that music contains many avant elements, but at the same time stays very pleasant and easy accessible. For me ,it's that rare case, when simplicity could be named excellent idea for such kind of music: this release is one between not so many others avant albums on my regular play-list.

Listen to it - just don't expect something very different or shocking: there is really pleasant music, not so often could be found between this genre's albums.

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 50th Birthday Celebration Volume 5: Fred Frith / John Zorn by FRITH, FRED album cover Live, 2004
2.34 | 5 ratings

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50th Birthday Celebration Volume 5: Fred Frith / John Zorn
Fred Frith RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by snobb
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars One more live album from Zorn's 50-th anniversary series. All series releases illustrate different sides of Zorn's music during decades of his activities. And all releases are very different.

This one, John Zorn and ex- Henry Cow, Massacre guitarist and Naked City bassist Fred Frith duo is free form avant jazz. Pure improvisational music without structure, fixed form and rhythm section at all. Just crazy Zorn's screaming sax and strange aerial, sometimes fast Frith guitars. Nothing else. As you understand yet no melodies for sure.

Free music in free space. How many people could enjoy such music? 0,00001% of Earth population? I think possibly 0,00001% of music fans. Is this music so bad? Don't think so. How many people can enjoy Malevich paintings? Far not everyone. But he's a great painter, isn't it?

This album could be interesting for free jazz fans. Not like it's a free jazz masterpiece, but it's interesting to listen two really great musicians in their live free form improvs.

Music lovers believing that right music should have structure, orchestral arrangements and melody should avoid this album even as free gift. Newcomers to free avant jazz should start in other place as well just to avoid first unpleasant experience.

My rating is 2,5 rounded to 3.

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Thanks to syzygy for the artist addition.

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