Album Remarks & Appraisals:
Love Cannot Bear is the brand new album of Soundscapes by Robert Fripp. Soundscapes, consisting of improvised guitar solos played through a variety of electronic processors and sound modules, have been the primary focus of Fripp's solo performances for more than a decade. The early generations of Soundscapes were presented via a quintet of albums released by DGM between 1994 and 1996. While there have been many memorable Soundscapes concerts in the interim period, allowing the sound world and approach to the work to evolve substantially, DGM's continuing commitment to Robert's work in all its forms King Crimson (live, studio and archive work), the ProjeKcts series etc., has left his key area unintentionally under-represented on CD. The Soundscapes concept has also been presented to a much larger audience over the last few years. The Soundscapes concept has also been presented to a much larger audience over the last few years. As well as the ongoing series of individual concerts, Robert has played as part of the sell-out G3 tours of Europe and South America with Joe Satriani and Steve Vai in 2004, with Porcupine Tree in the US in 2005 and ,most recently, in a series of warmly received concerts at this year's open air Big Chill festival in the UK. While most Soundscapes performances embody many moods and musical areas, Love Cannot Bear presents Soundscapes in their most positive, tonal settings and is drawn from a series of live performances in the US in June this year. 9 tracks. Panegyric. 2005.
"If one indication of a musician's mettle is creating a distinctive voice, than King Crimson co-founder/erstwhile leader Robert Fripp has done enough to distinguish a multitude of artists. With each successive incarnation of Crimson (documented on The 21st Century Guide to King Crimson Volume One: 1969-1974 and Volume Two: 1981-2003), he's not only created a wealth of recognizable tones, but a diversity of harmonic approaches that remain extraordinarily cohesive, despite rather significant stylistic shifts.
It would be fair to say that Fripp has recognized the guitar's limitless potential more than most, stretching it so far as to be virtually unrecognizable at times. When he and Brian Eno first connected two Revox tape recorders in 1973 for the landmark recording No Pussyfooting, the innovative looping process called Frippertronics would signal the beginning of a life's work that would allow him to create a virtual orchestra of sound, all in real time.
With the advent of guitar synthesizers and more sophisticated digital processing, Frippertronics evolved into Soundscapes, an even more innovative process that allowed Fripp to layer even more diverse sonics. A series of albums in the 1990s took the concept of the solo performance to new and unexpected places. Soundscapes can be dark and brooding, jagged and dissonant, or lush and beautiful. In their transcendent ability to evoke a remarkable range of emotions, they may well represent Fripp's most intensely personal work.
Of those 1990s recordings, A Blessing of Tears (Discipline Global Mobile, 1995) - a loving tribute to Fripp's recently-deceased mother - was perhaps the most immediate and poignant. Those who accuse Fripp of being coldly analytical need only listen to that recording to realize that beneath the calm exterior lives a spiritual man who clearly views music as the deepest of emotional expressions. Love Cannot Bear, his first Soundscapes recording in nearly a decade, is an even richer experience. The most accessible Soundscapes recording he's ever made, it's also the most rewarding.
While Eno's ambient music aims to fit unobtrusively into a listener's fabric of aural experience, Fripp's Soundscapes are more inherently demanding of attention. The lush strings that drive the languid and laconic "Acceptance - Affirming and "Affirmation: New York create a wash of sound and gently developing thematic ideas that build to dramatic peaks without ever resorting to melodrama. The equally string-driven "On My Mother's Birthday is darker and more oblique, yet Fripp's harp-like melody retains an inner beauty. "Easter Sunday features an introductory improvisation on acoustic guitar that's a surprisingly new texture in the Soundscapes universe, with his signature heavily sustained electric then taking over, harkening back to his Frippertronics days. A heavily processed vocoder on the title track suggest that "silence is a friend amidst vivid orchestral swells, segueing into the more brooding closer, "Requiem - Affirming.
For those unfamiliar with Soundscapes, Love Cannot Bear is the perfect entry point, an album that may be eminently approachable, but is also provocative and filled with an understated sound of surprise that defines the best improvised music." -AllAboutJazz
Mojo (Publisher) (p.116) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "Fripp's bizarre vocodered recitations on the title track usher in a rare example of his unique lead lines snaking across this gently ebbing, airbrushed backdrop..."
Although Robert Fripp's Love Cannot Bear only contains two previously released tracks, it could almost serve as an overview of his Frippertronic/Soundscapes work, since it spans the entire span of this aspect of his music: 1983-2005. Over this time, not only has the technology changed drastically, but Fripp's approach to the pieces themselves has also evolved. As "affirmations," these pieces are all beautiful and elegant, in contrast to some of the more dissonant and atonal soundscapes of the '90s, and each has its own quiet power. Soundscapes of the '90s and beyond have a much wider tonal palette to draw from, like the bell-like tones at the end of "Acceptance - Affirming" or the piano sounds used over the top of the piece on "On My Mother's Birthday" (all coming from his guitar, mind you). "Midnight Blue" sounds more like strings, and "Affirmation: New York" almost sounds like pipe organ. The oldest piece here (originally released as one side of a split flexi-disc with Allan Holdsworth) dates to 1983 and is the only representation here of "original" Frippertronics: Fripp's guitar looped through two Revox reel tape machines. Unlike Let the Power Fall, which was pure Frippertronics, there is some overdubbed soloing on this track. Surprisingly, it's acoustic guitar at the beginning, but soon that wonderfully saturated electric guitar takes over. The other somewhat surprising piece is the title track, which might actually be the first Fripp vocal. Over a lovely soundscape, a vocoded Fripp recites a heartfelt poem about the power of music and silence, then solos over the soundscape. It may be slightly jarring to some, but the processed vocals are fairly unobtrusive. People looking to hear Fripp rock out should look elsewhere. These are refined, contemplative pieces that live far outside the rock tradition. Probably closer in spirit to a Fugue, this is truly beautiful music that is demeaned by the new age label sometimes placed on it. If you're new to Fripp's world of soundscapes, this would be a fine place to start. ~ Sean Westergaard
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