Before anyone reads on, the following is my own subjective perspective on these works and style of playing; I'm not making any objective claims about the essence of the works themselves, Robert Fripp, or musicians who play in a similar fusion. This is my own personal, emotive fashion to stir some online conversation.
I just finished listening to Fripp's live soundscapes "Radiophonics" and "A Blessing of Tears." I have all of Fripp's works from King Crimson, and I have been a great admirer of his playing for years…one can even hear Frippisms in some of my own playing. He is an amazing guitarist with great discipline and a unique outlook on music.
However, with all due respect to the man and guitarist, I'm not at all impressed with these particular works. I find them dull and uninspiring. I even read through his academic discourse in the CD insert…still, no greater appreciation of what he is doing. I'm sure the CD would make an outstanding soundtrack for a sci-fi or art film, but as standalone works, I think they totally misrepresent Fripp's caliber as a musician and composer.
My contention is basically that every song sounds so similar to me, and there is no real interesting melody work to give each song an identity of its own. I'm sure Fripp would beg to differ, but as a listener, I'm not drawn to any particular song as having a unique or strong musical fingerprint or personality. It sounds like stereotypical synth ambient music to me…a great cake, but no icing on top. And this isn't my response to just Fripp's work. Other ambient works do the same thing to me, even a small few of my own works that are pretty much gear/looping masturbation with no melodic/harmonic significance. Hence, my criticism applies my own playing as well on occasion. I can easily put myself to sleep with my own playing/looping if I want to take that path.
Has anyone seen Fripp play these soundscapes live? What is the crowd doing while he is playing? Reading books, playing chess, doing cross-work puzzles, having sex in the restroom stalls, etc? ;)
Okay, I'm going to take a long nap now and see what kind of rat hole I've created...