Key To Music Grades

A - You will never be whole without it
B - Highly recommended
C - Flawed, but still pretty good
D - It's your money, not mine
F - Why couldn't this have been burned in Fahrenheit 451?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Robert Fripp & Andy Summers - I Advance Masked (1982)

I would first like to mention to those who believe I make sense sometimes that I am soon to be on a very lengthy hiatus in which I may have little to no internet access and therefore am relinquishing control of my site to the perfunctory authority of automatic blogging. Having written numerous reviews in recent days to prepare for such a situation, I therefore apologize fore and aft, hither and thither, etc & etc, for not being able to, perhaps, join in our sometimes rabid discussions. Please know that I have ensured as much insanity for your future reading pleasure (every week, I promise) and hope that I can randomly visit and play the elder berry to your succulent snark. Bob and Cianan: please play nice. So there. Ahem.

The problem with having such disparate but equally excellent guitarists work together is that it's like taking two complete meals and combining them. Suppose that, as an example, Andy Summers is Yorkshire pudding and Robert Fripp is moussaka -- would you want to eat those things together? Well, I would, because in this instance, it's really good. Don't believe me? The title track is proof enough, where Andy does what he's known for doing, which is completely understated textural melodies; and Fripp, true to form, snakes around everything like a blind arpeggio monster. "New Marimba" features a similarity in tone to what Fripp was currently doing with KC and is positively sinister sounding; "Hardy Country," in contrast, sounds very lush and beautiful. In fact, much of the music -- all instrumental, if you couldn't have guessed -- is much more impressionistic and mood-oriented than posing as cohesive, recognizable song types. This is not to say this an album of egocentric noodling, but that the bridge-chorus format many are used to is not present here. That said, there is an interweaving of short little vignettes in-between the longer suites ("Under Bridges Of Silence," "Lakeland/Aquarelle," et al) and I personally find little to embrace in them. Since much of the good in the album comes from the meshing of Fripp and Summers, not fleshing out anything for more than a few minutes doesn't excite me as much. Additionally, given some context, it seems that Andy felt the need to exercise some ideas he couldn't while with the Police, and Fripp -- well, he does whatever the fuck he wants, so this is de rigeur for him. Music is music, after all. B-


Master Cianan said...

I like this record, but it's definitely music for musicians.

May this be your last required trip to GA.

The Mad Hatter said...

I still think non-musicians would enjoy some of it. But it's definitely not for people who haven't a clue about either of them.

Jeff said...

Could Fripp be "Cat Food" instead of moussaka?

taotechuck said...

I hate music for musicians, but I love Fripp and I like Summers. Oddly, I never got around to picking this up back in the day, so I've never heard it. Hatter, why don't you drop off your copy in Baltimore, since you'll surely be passing through on your trip to faraway places with limited Internet access?

The Mad Hatter said...


He can be whatever kind of food you like, Jeff. I picked moussaka simply because Fripp is a very diverse, almost exotic -- otherworldly, may be the best term -- and I wanted to chose a somewhat strange but interesting dish.


Yeah music for musicians is generally boring. My and Master Cianan's most odious example of this is Zappa's Shut Up And Play Yer Guitar albums. Yeck.

Master Cianan said...

dude, SUAPYG isn't even music for musicians. It's drivel for stoners and Zappa completists. Musicians listen to it and say "what's the fucking use in this mess? This is abject shit." And put on something else.

The Mad Hatter said...

I always felt that I just didn't understand what he was doing. Shit is shit, though, regardless from what end it decides to come out.

Master Cianan said...

Now, here's how I see it: Music for musicians is always an exercise in finding something interesting and new along musical paths less traveled. Fripp and Summers are really good at coming up with stuff that's interesting, even when it's not really something you could tap your toes to. Music for musicians, while often boring, is disciplined, and musicians hear it and understand what's going on, what the idea is, and so on. "Shut up and play yer guitar", on the other hand is just noodly jamming. It's an exercise in "I'm going from point a to point b, I have 17 minutes to do it in, and I don't have a plan" nonsense. I don't see jamming as a spectator sport. Improvisation needs some kind of structure to hang on, or else... well, John Coltrane started it by squawking out gibberish and calling it "modal". You can play any number of bum notes and reverse engineer some kind of theoretical construct to explain it. That's all that Coltrane is. He had a structure, but ignored it. SUAPYG doesn't even have that much. And Summers & Fripp positively sound like a vines in a lattice on this album.

David Amulet said...

You know, I got this album when it came out long ago and then lost it. Recently, I was trying to remember where some music in my head was coming from ... and this was it--but I didn't know it until I saw this post.

You rock.

I'll have to pick this up again to get all the sounds back in my head.

The Mad Hatter said...


I'm glad I spurred your memory. This album is such a rare gem. I never tired of the opening track; it puts me in such an excitable mood.