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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Fripp & Eno

Beyond Even (1992-2006)

Review by Gary Hill

This is a collection of previously unreleased collaborations between Robert Fripp and Brian Eno. As one might imagine the majority of this music is firmly rooted in atmospheric territory. This is intriguing stuff, but more mood music than anything you’d make a conscious effort to sit down and enjoy.  The disc as presented here is a two CD set, but it is really only one disc worth of material. CD one includes all the songs as separate entities. The second disc presents the same material, but this time faded into each other and segued up as one long piece. Since there is no significant difference between the two CD’s, my track by track review will reference only the first CD with the separate tracks. My understanding is that once this version of the album has sold out they will only issue single disc sets containing the second disc.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2008  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
. Ringing Beat
This track is essentially an ambient percussion excursion. There are other elements and sounds placed across the mix, but overall it is the “beat” of the title that dominates this number.
Gasp
This has a bit more of a melodic element to it, but overall is just a gentle, textural sounding number.
Sneering Loop
Here we wander close to the realm of rock music. This is rather dark and mysterious in tone and is an intriguing piece of soundscape. That said, it’s still quite ambient in its approach.
Tripoli 2020
This comes a lot closer to something you’d call “rock music.” It has a bit of groove to it and waves of sound over the top weave a melodic tale. It still feels like it would be quite at home in a movie soundtrack, but it’s also more purely listenable than some of the other music on show in this set. The percussion drops away mid track and it shifts out to space for a while, but then we get a reprise of the earlier motif to continue.

Behold the Child
Now we move more fully into the spacey ambient territory once again. There isn’t a lot to this, but it really feels like it would be quite at home in the soundtrack to some science fiction film.
Timean Sparkles
This is pretty and just a bit more substantial than the number that came before it. It does really feel like it sparkles in a minor way.

Dirt Loop
This is extremely understated and doesn’t rise above the level of ambient sound.
The Idea of Decline
With more developed rhythmic and melodic textures, this feels like something you might call “robot jazz.” It’s a cool tune and one of my favorites on show here. It also includes some trademark Robert Fripp guitar work – ala the Red period of Crimson. This is one of the more dynamic and diverse pieces on the set.
Deep Indian Long
We’re back into nearly pure atmosphere with ultra mellow number.
Hopeful Timean
This is another pretty pure dosage of atmospheric sounds. It’s different from the previous one in terms of delivery method, but the medication remains essentially the same.
Glass Structure
We rise up a bit from the depths of ambience on this one. This is achieved through dissonant, echoey lines of sound that seem rather jarring. It’s all delivered in a distant sort of approach leading me to think of music from some space opera.
Various
Here we’re treated to more waves of textural sound. There are some more solid traces of melody and function here and they come across as all the more dramatic against the fairly monolithic backdrop that we’ve been presented thus far.

Cross Crisis In Lust Storm
Trey Gunn joins the duo on this piece and the result is a fairly rocking piece of music. The main focus remains on atmospherics, but this has some serious crunch and rather approaches the level of Crimsonian music. They certainly saved the best for last as this jam is quite cool and steals the show. It seems all the more hard rocking contrasted to the textural motifs that make up the rest of the CD.
 
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