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Re: Frippertronics and Soundscapes
with this talk of influences and such, I remembered this comment from a
week ago that I meant to answer but didn't get around to it:
At 02:10 AM 6/16/2003, Terry Blankenship wrote:
>I don't think this list would even exist if Fripp and
>Eno had never recorded that album.
sorry, but this broad statement is preposterously funny! Since I created
this list, I somehow think I might have a better idea about why it exists.
To set that record straight a little bit, I never even heard of Robert
Fripp until long after I was into looping. I played guitar for a good 12
years or so before that and didn't ever hear of him then either. I never
remember any other musician friends, teachers, or even magazine articles
discussing him while I was growing up, and I was a guitar fanatic at the
time. It seems to me he was mainly an influence on a different generation
from mine. Sorry if your generation's heros didn't become mine, but that
wasn't really my doing.
In fact, I also can't see how any of the devices, jobs, music, or people
that influenced me to get into looping can be related to Robert Fripp. It
all comes from a different looping lineage. Personally, I wasn't motivated
to work on the Echoplex project because of him and I didn't start Looper's
Delight because of him.
Don't get me wrong, Robert Fripp seems like a fine musician, and when a
marketing guy at Gibson had me demonstrate the EDP to him he seemed like a
nice guy. I even bought a King Crimson album after that. But he is on a
different track through looping history from the one I followed to get
here. It is simply not correct to say this list exists because of his
influence. I would have created it anyway.
I've subsequently tried to listen to his looping stuff on a couple of
occasions, and I'm sorry but I find it sort of boring. I've never been
to get very far through it. That's my personal taste. If he was a big
influence on you and your use of loops, that's great! but let's try not to
confuse your own influences as being those of everybody...
So what was the influence on me? In the looping universe I fell into, I
see obvious connections to the SF Tape Music center and various related
musicians and composers. The new music scene in the SF bay area is full of
that influence. You hear it everywhere here, and I've been soaking it in
But most important, the SF Tape Center influence is why the people at the
Gibson R&D lab where I once worked in Berkeley thought the LoopDelay
looping machine that Matthias Grob created was exciting, and why we ended
up licensing it and working on it with Matthias and turning it into the
EDP. These were people interested, and even friends with, looping
like Pauline Oliveros, Terry Riley, Paul Dresher, etc. Those were well
known names around Gibson's g-wiz labs. Nobody was interested in Fripp
I ever recall. Mills College, CNMAT, CCRMA and all the related musicians
are right here. In other words, the Echoplex happened as it did at Gibson
because of a completely different set of people than the Robert Fripp
lineage. And if the Echoplex hadn't happened there, I probably wouldn't
have been involved, and probably wouldn't have gotten into it enough to
create Looper's Delight.
The Nashville end of Gibson liked the looper idea more due to finger
pickers who used loops and delays, like Chet Atkins and Phil Keaggy, and
course Les Paul. They even wanted to do a version of the Echoplex called
the "Les Paulverizer" after the tape machine trick Les Paul used to use.
That is why Gibson was willing to commit the resources to do a project
the Echoplex. I don't recall any mention of Fripp there either, and I
see how Fripp could have been an influence on Chet Atkins or Les Paul.
For me personally I was into Industrial music and Hip Hop at the time I
into looping, and wanted more flexible ways to create loops to do that
live. I never liked composing and I didn't want to deal with sorting out
samples and sequences in advance. And maybe also important, I wanted to
that type of music move back in a more live direction, and I wanted a way
to mix live instruments (like my guitar) into it as it happened. I loved
early hip hop like "Planet Rock" when I was a kid, I loved the heavy
repetitive sounds of Ministry and Skinny Puppy when I was older. Looping
naturally followed out of all that for me. I had never even heard of Fripp
The electronic repetition in those music styles I listened to can be
obviously connected to groups like Kraftwerk and the various European
experimenters who influenced them, but not to Robert Fripp. Kraftwerk was
huge influence on so much of the loop based music heard today. They were
the primary influence for electronic repetition in both dance music
(techno/juan atkins) and Hip Hop (trans-europe express was a favorite
to loop on turntables for the early rap djs, it is even the basis for
Planet Rock). That's a pretty giant piece of culture, and the pervasive
of loops has influenced a lot of musicians to get into looping in real
time. If you trace back the historical lineage of the use of loops in hip
hop, industrial/goth, most electronic dance music, and synth pop, you pass
through Kraftwerk most of the time, and then back to the SF Tape Center
scene, Stockhausen, Varese, etc. Fripp is on some other branch of the tree
that started from those same 60's influences and went another direction.
The only other loop experience I can remember from that time was when a
college roommate got into a nostalgia fad and started listening to old
and 70's music. I was finally introduced to old (but good) stuff like the
Beatles, and I remember being especially fascinated by "Revolution #9" and
wondering how they did it. That was probably the first introduction to
loops for me, coming well after I had experienced delay looping,
sequencers, samplers, arpeggiattors, and such. I assume a lot of people
must have listened to that track in it's day, so probably it was a
first-tape-loop experience for a lot of people.
Then of course while working on the Echoplex at Gibson, I met Matthias
and heard his music and ideas about looping and that was another
I've never heard Matthias mention much about Fripp or Eno either, but I
don't know if they affected him or not. Certainly Matthias has
many of his ideas about looping into the Echoplex, and even the most basic
features there go far beyond the looping techniques the Fripp used.
Matthias was clearly way past those guys in his thinking about all this.
And last, but perhaps not least, Looper's Delight is named after an old
song! If I were a Robert Fripp fan, I probably would have come up with
something different, don't you think?
I decided to create Looper's Delight while working on the Echoplex and
meeting so many different people interested in looping. I was fascinated
how different they all were. I was fascinated by how loopers in different
styles of music had come up with different approaches and techniques. I
also fascinated by how so many loopers were totally unaware of how many
others there were. It was obvious to me that they could gain a lot by
sharing ideas. Cross pollination between completely different types of
looping was one of my main goals for this community. I had also been on
various BBS's (remember those?) and internet lists for years, and long had
an idea that I wanted to try starting an online community like some of the
favorite ones I had been a part of. So Looper's Delight was it.
>Many of the people who invented
>those effects in the first place did it because of
>hearing Frippertronics. "The Fripp in the Box", etc.
Somehow I get the impression you haven't really sat down and talked to a
lot of them. Mostly, I find the people involved in creating the tools were
not coming from that Fripp influence, although some were. Most of the
looping devices around today were not based on the "Fripp in the Box" idea
at all. Claiming that is a really naive exaggeration.
I wasn't motivated to work on the Echoplex in such a way, nor do I recall
seeing that influence in anybody else on that project, as I noted above.
The Electrix guys who did the Repeater were mainly dance music producers
and dj's interested in creating something like acid but easier to use in a
live dj context. I don't think they had ever heard of Fripp before getting
into this either. It's been a while since I talked to the Boomerang guys,
but they seemed more like Texas blues rockers who wanted to keep a riff
going and built on that idea to create their looper. Emmanuel Pérille is
certainly coming from more of a dance music dj perspective for his DJRND
products, which were used for the RedSound Cycloops.
I'm not sure if Gary Hall was ever interested in Fripp, but I've hung out
with him a number of times and never heard him mention RF. He seems more
interested in Indian music now, but that might not have had anything to do
with his development of the pcm-42. His bio on LD says he was doing early
sorts of techno at the time with drum machines and arpeggiators. I imagine
he was mainly trying to create a better Lexicon delay with the pcm-42 and
musicians interested in looping then discovered how useful it was for them
and started requesting modifications. For the jamman, I don't know about
Bob Sellon's musical influences, but as I recall he got into it after
having done service work and modifications on pcm-42's for a long time and
had the idea for the jamman out of that. Jon Durant most likely was a
fan. He's certainly a Torn fan.
Line6 was just copying the Boomerang for the DL-4, I don't think they
really knew anything about looping at all. (they even called the loop
function of the dl-4 the "boomerang modeler" at first until their lawyers
recommended changing it....) I've never met the creators of the Akai
Headrush or the Boss RC-20, so those development histories are mysteries
me. The Boss doesn't seem very related to the frippertronics thing though.
Before the Headrush, Akai did the Remix-16 which was obviously a dj thing.
I don't know the histories of the TC-2290 or the EH-16 either. TC seemed
be mainly creating a high-end delay. EH obviously called the EH-16 the
"fripp in a box" so I suppose that is what they were after.
Software tools like Live, Radial, Acid, etc. are also coming from a dance
music perspective, although they can be easily used for other things. The
sonic foundry guys called it "Acid" so that's pretty clear. I've met the
Radial and Live people, they were certainly electronic dance and rave
culture types and not Fripp fans. The Eventide guys might have more of a
Fripp perspective in what they do. Scott Gilfix seemed to come from that
perspective when I met him and he demoed the Orville for me.
Kim Flint | Looper's Delight
firstname.lastname@example.org | http://www.loopers-delight.com