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Robert Fripp - God Save The Queen / Under Heavy Manners CD (album) cover

GOD SAVE THE QUEEN / UNDER HEAVY MANNERS

Robert Fripp

 

Eclectic Prog

3.19 | 53 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

TCat
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Inspired by Brian Eno during his work with him, Robert Fripp created a similar method of tape looping sound except he did it with guitar instead of electronics. He threaded reel to reel tape from the feeding real through the player of one unit through the player of a 2nd unit so that the tape would be taken up on the receiving reel on the 2nd unit. He would create a sound that he would layer more sounds over and do this continually so that he would become sort of like a one man band, or at least sound like he was creating more sound than what a single person would normally be able to create at one time. Thus Frippertronics was born. There were several versions of this Frippertronics method and two of them are featured on this double E.P. which was released as 1 LP.

"God Save the Queen" is the first part of this album and consists of 3 tracks. Each one is a study in minimalism, a layering of guitars improvised through the 2 reel to reel units. They are mostly sparse performances with a separate melody sometimes appearing among the guitar layers. This is Pure Frippertonics with nothing but Fripp's guitar and no other processed sound except for the tape units. The music is something like the ebb and flow of the waves and very relaxing. It is hard to understand on the first few listens, but really grows on you after a while. This style of guitar work would be used in a lot of recordings as part of the band, usually produced musically by Fripp as a guest performer and it always gave the music a much fuller sound with the payoff of fewer musicians.

The other half of the recording gives you 2 tracks that illustrates better how Frippertronics sounds with other instruments added in. This is the "Under Heavy Manners" part of the album. This style is what Fripp called Discotronics, the same recording process, but this time with an established rhythm (drums and whatnot) and bass with a few other surprises added in. This definitely gives a full sound to a smaller band. On the title track of this portion of the album, David Byrne sings what sounds like improvised words and melody and this sounds very much like the era it came from. The 2nd track on is over 12 minutes and further explores the full band sound this time without vocals. What's nice about this track is after about the half-way point, the other instruments end while the soundscape created by Fripp's guitar work is left to finish out the track, back to the bare bones of the first part of the album.

Overall, this is not an album for the masses, but it is proof of Fripp's genius and shows his inventiveness in attempting to move the guitar sound into the 80's. The interesting thing here is that bands are still using his techniques and styles today, however, with more updated equipment which produces more interesting sounds. But the technique is still there, the idea is still utilized and with this album, which, even though it isn't exactly a masterpiece, should be something that gets a lot more credit as far as the progression of modern music. No it's not for everyone, but any student of music should be exposed to it and credit is due to Fripp for his experimentation and innovation which has created a lot of the sound that we hear today in music, whether it's pop music or the most innovative progressive music. Not everyone will enjoy both halves of this album, but it still needs to be appreciated. 4 stars.

TCat | 4/5 |

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