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Re: Beyond Fripp (long)

All of the points on the "Beyond Fripp" topic are well-considered and 
quite valid.

One thing that I would have to say is that Fripp is the first person I'm 
aware of who was using real-time looping in a live performance context.  
I know he didn't invent reel-to-reel tape loops, or any other mechanical 
looping principle.  But I haven't heard of anyone previous to him who 
actually took the gear out into the "real world" and performed live 
concerts using this sort of hardware.  (If there is indeed historical 
prescedent for this before Fripp, please feel free to correct me).  For 
that alone, Fripp is sort of a Godfather to any live loopists, 
particularly those coming from a rock-oriented background.

A couple of things Jon mentioned piqued my interest:

> Clarification (I hope): I think what I was trying to say is that I see a 
> range a possibilities within "looping" that are not touched upon in 
> work: Dynamics (mentioned earlier); rhythmic possibilities; letting go 
>on top of
> the loopage (I really love Fripp's solos, and would greatly enjoy 
>hearing him
> rip on top of some of his soundscapes); use of various sound sources 
> guitar tones-fuzzed or not or synthed or slide or ebow or scraped 
>strings or
> whatever; adding vox; adding odd noises; etc); harmonic movement, etc. 
>So many
> options not yet taken within his work. 

This is very true; one thing about Fripp's Soundscaping work is that
there's very little in the sound of the stuff to suggest that there's a
guitar at work, since guitar synth seems to be the primary sound source
for these particular endeavors.  (Compare that to someone like Torn, whose
loops almost always have a certain guitaristic accent to their sound).  As
far as the soundscape releases that have cropped up over the last couple
of years, I have mixed feelings.  _1999_ impressed me greatly, and
demonstrated quite a range of textures and approaches (including a very
rhythmic approach on the second piece).  _A Blessing Of Tears_, on the
other hand, fails to reach me; I have to second Jon's comments about it
being homogenous and fairly non-developmental.  (It's also a fairly easy 
type of sound to imitate, I feel.)  

I skimmed through bits of _Radiophonics_ and found it more to my liking,
but haven't yet plopped down the cash for it.  (There's a four-CD
Soundscapes boxed set that's due to be released sometime soon by the
American branch of Fripp's label, so I'll probably wait for that,
especially since the fourth volume of the current Soundscapes CD series
will only be available as a part of that box.  Sounds like Fripp is
getting more and more into his role as record company mogul...  But that's
another thread altogether). 

Incidentally, the frist time I saw Crimson, over the summer of 1995, the 
soundscape intro to "B'boom" that Fripp pulled off made my hair stand on 
end.  It was abstract, angular, and very, very eerie.  I wish I could get 
a recording of just that bit...

> Also a small point: when I speak of
> Loopage, I'm talking also about delays which do not "loop", but do 
> as a part of the music. From what I've heard, many of the soundscape 
> aren't loops but many different long delay patterns.

Uh oh, I sense a semantics war approaching...  :}  Should we make a 
distintion between "loops" in the sense of single overdubbed lines from a 
JamMan, Echoplex, or similar device, as opposed to having several delay 
units running individual loops of differing lengths?

> Anyone who has heard "What Means Solid, Traveller?" by David Torn should 
>have a
> sense of how far looping can be taken. After all,the whole record is 
> a series of loops. Some were PCM 42, some were JamMan, and some were
> computer-derived. But none of it sounds stale. This album is very 
> (intentionally), but is a masterwork in the field of looping. 

Very true.  It's several steps beyond the applications heard of "Tripping
Over God," which was based largely around a formula of bringing in a
rubato loop, soloing over it, then fading the piece out.  I don't mean
that as a slam against Torn at all, because there's some breathtaking
music that he squeezes out of that "formula," but it does become a
somewhat predictable pattern after a while (though I can tell that on
some of those pieces, there is a bit of studio editing/compiling going
on).  "Traveller," on the other hand, it several steps beyond that,
althogh my impression is that a large amount of that came from a
cut-and-paste approach on a hard disk recorder, which was applied to both
loops and to more "straight" guitar and drum parts.  

It's important to keep that sort of distinction in mind; when comparing
"Traveller" or "Tripping" to the Soundscapes discs, bear in mind that
we're comparing studio-assembled multitracked projects to live solo
improvisations (although there is minor post-performance editing on some
of the Soundscape pieces, generally for length.) When Torn staged his solo
tour in support of "Tripping" (and Trilok Gurtu), many of the songs were
accompanied by DAT backing tracks or drum machines.  Fripp's approach to
looping has always been based upon his oft-quoted adage of "making a lot
of noise with one guitar," and his work with the technique still seems
based first and foremost upon live solo improv.  (BTW, thanks very much
for your kind words regarding my tape, Jon.)

> BTW--This is in no way intended to dis Mr. Fripp. I have the highest 
>regard for
> his work throughout the years, and he's one of only a handful of 
>musicians who
> have stuck to their guns in the face of commercial pressure and 
>continued to
> make interesting and provocative music. It's just that I think he could 
>do more
> in the looping arena. And I sincerely hope that he will.

It's funny, but I've started to think of certain pieces as being in the
vein of what I call a "classical loop piece," referring to a single loop
being set up on one delay or sample-based unit which is then overdubbed
upon and let to play on.  The aforementioned Torn pieces on "Tripping" 
would fall into that category, as would pretty much anything done on a
non-loop-specific unit (which I guess includes everything except for one
of the Big Three) or a tape-based system, including the Frippertronics
phase of Fripp's work.  

There are a lot more possibilities out there today, particularly in the
realm of step-time digital assembly, but also in terms of real-time work. 
The Echoplex has all sorts of possibilities for real-time cut-and-paste
work with the multiply and insert functions, which I'll admit I still
haven't delved into as deeply as I should have.  It's easy to get caught
up in the classical looping approach, which may be one reason why Fripp
seems to stick to it for his work to this day. 

Wow, that's a long post.  Sorry to clog so much bandwidth, and thanks for 
listening to me think.  'Till next time,


P.S. On a not unrelated note, I sent e-mail to the administrators at 
Elephant Talk, the Fripp/Crimson digest and Web site, asking that a link 
to Looper's Delight be set up in recognition of the fairly regular 
appearance of posts inquring as to the nature of exactly how 
Frippertronics works (there was yet another one in the current edition).