The Equatorial Stars – Robert Fripp and Brian Eno
Discipline Global Mobile 402
Back in the early 1970s, Robert Fripp and Brian
Eno took a break from their rock pursuits to record an
album's worth of "ambient" duets, using tape loops and
evoking a meditative mood. The album, No
Pussyfooting, took a few years to be released, but its
influence became prominent in their work and quietly
worked its way into a great deal of contemporary
music. A tad ironic, then, that this new effort comes
after New Age has made its mark and faded and after
these two have not made news in a while, with the
result that The Equatorial Stars is presently
available only from their web sites.
It deserves better. This CD is nothing especially
new, but perhaps that's not the point. Fripp's fluent
playing, calmer than in the often agitated context of
King Crimson, is simply the most active element in a
setting of twinkling, whooshing sounds set up by Eno.
The combination makes for a series of absorbing aural
landscapes, in a set of seven five-to-nine-minute cuts.
With New Age being superficially easy to do and
having often been done so poorly as a result, it's
easier than it should be to resist the charms of this
sort of CD. But the cliches are valid: this music
deserves quiet and concentration, although it can also
work to let the environment filter into this music,
with the refrigerator or ceiling fan serving as a
rhythm section and a passing siren masquerading as an
unexpected horn solo.
The music gets more dissonant and active as the disc
goes on, with Eno even adding a gentle funk loop on
"Altair," but the mood remains consistent. They make
their last point at the end, with "Terebellum" taking
almost three minutes to fade away after its final
chord. With Eno reportedly preparing a new vocal
album and Fripp touring alongside Satriani and Vai,
there may be some entirely different fare coming soon
from both, but for now The Equatorial Stars reasserts
the powers of the ambient.