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Robert Fripp - November Suite Live at Green Park Station CD (album) cover

NOVEMBER SUITE LIVE AT GREEN PARK STATION

Robert Fripp

 

Eclectic Prog

3.96 | 18 ratings

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ThulŽatan
Prog Reviewer
5 stars When the scheduled fourth volume of the 1995 Soundscapes series - 'Soundbites' - was cancelled, Discipline Global Mobile instead announced the mail order only 'November Suite'. A cold day's live improvisation, which reverberated over the platforms of Green Park train station, was captured and condensed into this challenging 70-minute album.

Fripp's piercing, metallic string synth sound established in previous Soundscapes features heavily throughout the recording, but here new colours also appear in the form of crystal clear bells, choral effects, and breathy pipes. Over fourteen tracks, there are two distinct, interlocking movements: 'Green Park Suite', and 'November Suite'. The former starts off the album, and each track within it is typified by a unique atmosphere... spacious sustained string chords provide a quiet 'bed' of sound, clear and still, and seem to conjure images of being suspended in a profound yet intimate space. This is accompanied and offset by ever-shifting, discordant chimes and vocal chords, desperately seeking their own harmony but never aligning with themselves or the background. Such gentle contrasts actually result in a very unsettling sound, an ambient frustration that proves quite a difficult listening experience despite the clean sounds, and this is particularly effective on the near-intangible 'Platform Five'.

The 'November Suite' on the other hand seems to float softly out of the web, as the atmosphere becomes much darker, flooded with vast, slow waves of contemplation and grief. 'November Suite I' begins this journey with exploratory voices, distinct emotional crescendos, and eventually introduces piercing notes that cut through like anguish. 'II' offers an eerie interlude of high, hanging notes, occasionally punctuated by deep drones, and there is a definite sense of tension and foreboding here. This is followed by one of the longer pieces on the album, 'November Suite III', a powerful icy landscape of quiet solitude and despair given ten minutes to breathe and build... utterly absorbing. 'November Suite IV' appears later, sandwiched between parts of the 'Green Park Suite', and is both the highlight of the album and among my all time favourite pieces of music, let alone favourite Soundscapes. The fragile string chords that open the track and continue as its foundation are just achingly poignant, suggestive of deep weariness and disconnection. The piece is then slowly overlaid with emphasising harmonies and a soaring lead like cries of mourning. A long fade out completes the picture of a beaten spirit, gradually disappearing, and it is quite moving indeed.

With its two hemispheres creating a perfect balance of pace and intensity, 'November Suite' is an unexpected, outstanding addition to the Soundscapes series, and to the collection of any fan of abstract, pure, direct music.

ThulŽatan | 5/5 |

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