King Crimson’s master guitarist Robert Fripp has had a career long reputation as an autocrat, and exacting, difficult taskmaster. He’s named an album, a band, and a record company “Discipline.” Drummer Bill Bruford once described him as an “an amalgam of Stalin, Gandhi and the Marquis de Sade,” according to The Telegraph.
But recently, there’s been some activity on Fripp’s social media that can only be described as “silly.” In lockdown with his wife of 34 years, singer and actor Toyah Wilcox, we’ve seen them shimmying to the Twist on Easter Sunday:
They dressed up as bees and ran around their Worcestershire garden:
And performed a ballet with stuffed unicorns set to Ravel’s Bolero:
Very silly indeed. But there is some music being made during all this madness, as can be heard at the top of this post.
Last Friday, Fripp dropped the first in a 50-track series, Music for Quiet Moments. These ambient pieces will be drawn from all different years of the guitarist’s career, and will appear on most streaming platforms (including YouTube and Spotify), one a week, every Friday.
“My own quiet moments,” he says in a blog post announcement, “over fifty-one years of being a touring player, have been mostly in public places where, increasingly, a layer of noise has intentionally overlaid and saturated the sonic environment.” He continues: “Some of these Soundscapes are inward-looking, reflective. Some move outwards, with affirmation. Some go nowhere, simply being where they are.”
David Singleton, producer and Fripp’s business partner, added “a year at home without touring offers the chance to listen for the first time in many cases to existing live recordings.”
The cover art for the first track features sculpture from Fripp’s garden by artist Althea Wynne. (You may not see it at first, but the sculpture is a take on Manet’s Le Déjeuner sur l'herbe.)
By the way, Fripp’s online diary is just as thorough and fascinating as the man himself, as well as revealing the soppy ol’ romantic whenever he describes his wife. It’s very endearing...another word I bet you didn’t expect to pop up in this post.
As of this writing, his latest entry offers a preview of Music for Quiet Moments #2:
Quiet Moments 2 is a sonic meditation on dying, loss and accepting, disguised as looping; so it is better equipped and able to go out and present itself in public; so more likely to escape the expectation and quality of attention that would otherwise undermine the reflection/event were it formally billed as Meditation On Loss, Grieving & An Acceptance Of Suffering As Both Necessary & Inevitable In The Human Condition.
Boy. That’s a show I’d avoid.
But it just might be what we need right now.
Ted Mills is a freelance writer on the arts who currently hosts the Notes from the Shed podcast and is the producer of KCRW's Curious Coast. You can also follow him on Twitter at @tedmills, and/or watch his films here.