Review Summary: Robert Fripp single-handedly crafts an ambient atmosphere so divine that it rivals the heavens
Otherwise known as 'Churchscapes - Live in England & Estonia', 'At The End of Time' is a live ambient album by guitarist Robert Fripp recorded during a small solo tour of some of these countries' churches.
Despite being a solo performance, Fripp's use of his signature 'Soundscapes' technique creates an ethereal and rich texture in this piece of music. His use of synthesizers, delay and loop pedals allows Fripp to seemingly distort time itself during instances of homophonic melodies; this creates an air of subtle complexity that conveys fresh originality, yet is not jarring as to distract the listener from the appreciating the entire timbre of the piece. This is especially prominent during 'At the End of Time: Broad Chalke'. Fripp also uses this technique to produce a wide range of timbres for his guitar - this creates a vibrant variance in tone which helps to distinguish between lines of similar pitch. Such examples include tones sounding like church bells in the opening track 'Threshold Bells: St. Pauls' and a church organ at the start of ‘Evensong: Viljandi’. These tones, however different they may be, still support the ethereal atmosphere that Fripp creates throughout the album – the only blatant exception being ‘Future Shift: Haapsalu’, a minute long interval comprised of notes with an aggressive envelope that creates an awful atmosphere, in the literal sense of the word. This interval, however, presents the listener with the notion that ambient music can express extremities of emotion just as equally, if not more so, than other genres of music.
Some may argue that an entire album of ambient music, especially like this album which is comprised of essentially 3 songs, will sound stagnant and unoriginal, as it will not progress anywhere - 'At the End of Time', however, is not the case. Even as 'Evensong' and 'Evensong Coda' appear on this album three times, the variance between each track is staggering. 'Evensong Coda: Tallinn' and 'Evensong Coda: Viljandi' differ in length by almost 10 minutes - Fripp has the freedom to improvise as he pleases, unbound by any other musician who he relies on or who relies on him, resulting in each song being given a new and original take to it. Even with Fripp’s best efforts to evenly distribute the same songs over the tracklist, one would be content with listening to all three tracks of ‘Evensong’ or its respective coda without fear of becoming disinterested in its repetition. The complexity and subtle uniqueness of each piece gives this album a surprisingly re-listenable quality.
Fripp’s choice of venue suggests little more than that of getting great acoustics. Performing in a place of religious worship conveys the spirituality behind the music, be it of conventional religion or not – the mere thought of performing in a spiritual building projects Fripp’s music to a level of divinity. My brushing of even the mere surface of potential and pretentious metaphors behind ‘At the End of Time’ support the notion that this album is not only a work of musical genius, but one of the most brilliant works of art I have ever experienced.
Awesome review bro and nice choice of album, pos'd. You should write more often!
"allows Fripp to seemingly distort time itself during instances of homophonic melodies" - read that as homophobic and got confused
Album Rating: 5.0
Cheers Mad! I was quite surprised that this album wasn't already up on Sputnik, let alone not reviewed. I do have a few other albums that I want to review, but I won't do them just yet - it's quite time consuming when I'm obsessing whether or not a sentence sounds good.
I usually just blast whole reviews out in about an hour, but the problem is finding time to do so
Very cool, man! I've never heard any of Fripp's other work outside of KC but this sounds very intriguing. Also: definitely write more, as Mad said.
Digging: The Tallest Man on Earth - Dark Bird Is Home
Would first like to say I'm so glad to see a Fripp review and I enjoyed reading it too. Pos + cheers for that (:
Would you be okay for a little feedback/comments?
Despite being a solo performance, Fripp's use of his signature 'Soundscapes' technique creates an ethereal and rich texture in this piece of music. His use of synthesizers, delay and loop pedals allows Fripp to seemingly distort time itself during instances of homophonic melodies; this creates an air of subtle complexity that conveys fresh originality, yet is not jarring as to distract the listener from the appreciating the entire timbre of the piece.
Would have liked a bit more description about what he actually does with all these components. I'm a little bit familiar with "Frippertronics" (I really hope he didn't name it himself- it reminds me of a wrestler coining his signature move), but didn't get too much of a sense about how this all sounds. Perhaps instead of saying "this piece of music" you could be more descriptive? Even with really obvious stuff like saying it's layered drone/whatever because not everyone's heard Fripp before. I hope this is fair.
Some may argue that an entire album of ambient music, especially like this album which is comprised of essentially 3 songs, will sound stagnant and unoriginal, as it will not progress anywhere
This might be enough to make any fan of ambient (of which there are increasingly many: horray!) shed a tear for ignorance. I know these kind of opinions do exist, but is it even worth addressing them as they're so ridiculous?
definitely need to check out fripp's ambient type stuff more, nice review
Album Rating: 5.0
Cheers for the feedback, Stranger. I'm still finding my feet with reviewing, so any and all feedback is great.
Regarding your first point: 'Soundscapes' is essentially 'Frippertronics' but working with digital equipment rather than analogue - both of them create delay effects, but I'd be lying if I said I was confidently learned of the subject. If I sounded like I was being too vague, I was - I just didn't want to spew out bull about a subject I don't know a lot about.
Regarding your second point: I, myself, am not as devout an ambient fan in relation to a lot of Sputnik - but my speculation regarding that thought is based on my discussions with friends, a few who expressed their opinion on ambient with little appreciation. And the way I put 'as it will not progress anywhere' sounds like that's what I think (which I don't) - I'll keep the layman's opinions on genres on hold in future reviews if it's really a problem.
Also - Wikipedia says that 'Frippertronics' was 'a term coined by poet Joanna Walton, Fripp's girlfriend in the late 1970s', so that's somewhat comforting.
Cheers, menawati and SmersH for your feedback as well!
fripp is god though
You make some good points, but it's not a particularly enjoyable read. Try writing with your voice --
write how you speak. You're obviously capable when it comes to grammar, vocab, etc., but it's just too
essay-like to be really engaging. I hope that's not overly harsh!
You're comments above, on the other hand, are styled in quite a readable and engaging way -- one not
at all unsuitable for a review.
And I love the album too. Glad to see Fripp's soundscapes receiving much appreciation.
Album Rating: 5.0
Not at all, Steven! Feedback is great, and I do see where you're coming from - I've tried to take a more eloquant approach to writing in this review in comparison to my others, I'm still working out a comfortable writing style. Looking back, this review does seem quite pretentious - like you say, if my normal dialect is perfectably acceptable, I'll loosen up in future reviews. Cheers for the feedback!
gotta check looks sweet eno & fripp rock
Digging: Mother Mallard's Portable Masterpiece Co. - Like a Duck to Water
So many long comments in this thread
Album Rating: 5.0
Is that a complaint, Mad?
reading hurts my eyes : (