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Published: 2004/07/29
by Pat Buzby

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.

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