Robert Fripp

Robert Fripp's Diary

Wednesday 10 January 2001

Chop Em Out is housed

Chop 'Em Out is housed within the Sanctuary building near Olympia. CEO has moved from its former premises off Ladbroke Grove, where the kitchen adjunct to the studio was a basic, self-operating kitchenette. Here, there is a restaurant & bar: it is smokers' heaven. There is no allocated no-smoking area within the restaurant area and, even if there were, smoke does not obey a sign within unbounded space. So, for non-smokers, there is no restaurant. And, without a kitchenette, there is no self-service either. The entrance lobby to Sanctuary reeks of smoke, which permeates the building. Here, smokers rule: clearly, they have the right to smoke. I assume my right to breathe is a secondary privilege. This is one reason why I prefer working in America: the right to breathe takes precedence over the right to breathe the exhaled smoke of others.

"Neal & Jack & Me, Absent Lovers" is now grooving away. We are comparing the master tape to the formerly-definitive edition CD. With the tape, I might almost be sitting in a room with the team, listening to their performance. Now, we are trying a different A/D converter, to see if the translation holds any difference. It does.

"Heartbeat". This is a Belewbeloid classic, although the band weren't the best team to deliver this song: the Anglos weren't ideal players for this little sucker.

"Sartori In Tangier". What becomes more & more obvious is the sheer quality of T. Baldy Levin. We usually attribute to outstanding musicians a "world" too high. For example, a very good pro will often be described as a "master" and an outstanding master is frequently called a "genius". We know almost nothing of what genius might be.

There are not many players that I acknowledge as master musicians. Very rare for an established studio player, T.Lev is a master. Now returning, after some years, to the Beastly Levintine delivering the goods on track after track is a joy. "Where did that come from?" I ask myself. "From music" comes the reply, straight back. Tony has an access & connection to music which I do not, and which is mysterious.

My aim as a teenager was to be good enough that really good players would let me play with them. With Tony Levin I lucked out. I would be very upset not to work with T.Lev again. For the present formation, which functions logistically and works well together, I have no idea how to incorporate T.Lev into that situation. Maybe ProjeKct Four will have to go out roaring again, if we can persuade Tony.

Probably, I should accept that my musical time with Bill has now run its course. Billy B is arrived musically where he has been heading since I have known him, knows what he wants, is in charge of directing his professional life, and is a bandleader. Compare "Bill Bruford's Earthworks" to "Robert Fripp's King Crimson". I have greater direction in my professional life than before, but within King Crimson my views continue to be subject to the views of the other guys.

Where there is music waiting for me to play with other musicians, it doesn't matter much to me if we like each other, or dislike each other. This is not a social encounter, this is not a hobby, this is working. If the music has to be played by these people, you find a way to work with them; and perhaps, they find a way to work with you. This begins at the professional level. Before then, we are stuck in like & dislike, unable to move.

In groups, especially of young people, thrown together for most hours of the day & night in entwined personal and professional contexts, tensions are inevitable. If the group is a co-operative, the presence of just one arbitrary or capricious character, someone who likes to stir things up, someone who smoulders with envy, someone with overarching ambitions, someone who drinks too much, someone who likes hard drugs, even someone who merely smokes nicotine or dope, small difficulties may become insuperable problems. In this paragraph lies one possible history of King Crimson, although it's not the one that Sid Smith is writing.

Where there is goodwill, and a shared aim, much is possible. Bill & I banged together over a period of 25.5 years: music was waiting for us to play, and we managed to play a lot of it. Now, it's time to move on.

Having written all of the above, I continue to be open to many possibilities of Crim, including the Double Trio. For this to happen it would take a defined and specific project, and the will. A point of seeing, a commitment to follow that seeing, and everything changes. In Crimson, forecasts for the likely or inevitable future are best not carved in stone.

And having written all of the above, that a Club release continues on hold because of one former member, and that any possible archive to be discovered is also under the control of any one former member, illustrates the difficulties and frustrations of The Life Crimsonique. Should a reasonable Guestbook contributor consider a post along the lines of "but this is unreasonable!" one answer might be that resentment, animosity, envy, any form of ill-will, perversity & capriciousness are not themselves products of reason.

Simon & I have returned from the Smokers' Room. I enjoyed my nicotine salad a la tuna & shrimp, followed by dessert of almond croissant a la nicotine. "Neurotica" now unfurls its beastliness, whistling & hi-quotient wernaciousness. Adrian wrote the words while Crim were staying at the Milford Plaza on 8th. & 43rd. (?) for the 3 nights of Crim at the Savoy, of which stories continue to be told today. The hotel that is. The Milford Plaza is NOTD.

When I listen to Crimson music that managed to escape the group's hold on it - joy! bliss! wonderment! & delight arising. I am able to enter a listening space comparable to that of an enthusiast & for a short while the scars cease to ache: a blessing descends to hold at bay memories of the occasion where the music came into the world.

Declan the Hero has popped by to exercise a cruel & unnatural degree of supervision over our re-mastering process on behalf of Virgin the Tyrant.

"Two Hands". This is properly an Ade solo track. We Crimsonised "Heartbeat" but didn't quite manage it on this. As limp an RF solo as one can find anywhere. Nowadays on a session I have the courage to say: "There is nothing I can contribute to this".

"Howler". This didn't convince me at the time, and doesn't now. It illustrates the difficulty of writing in the studio, and not having the opportunity of playing material live prior to recording it. There are some good ideas, but they haven't been allowed the time to mature & to find their place in life.

"Requiem". The guitar solos over a loop originated during the 1979 Frippertronic touring. Bartley joins with a kind of cymbal playing that tends to escape rock drummers: it is superb. Bill enthused over this track at the time: it was the direction for him.

Vibrated & tickled.

At the time (1982) Bill & Adrian thought that "Beat" was better than "Discipline". For me, this is an indication of how far the band had already drifted from its original vision. I believe Ade changed his mind; I'm not sure what Bill's view would be now. The group broke up at the end of "Beat", as it did during the Nashville rehearsals (1997). I had nothing to do with the mixing of "Beat", nor did I feel able to promote it.

Somehow we absorbed the fact, and then kept going. After Nashville we failed to accept or absorb the fact until the sheer impossibility of working together in full formation lead to a different approach: the ProjeKcts. The ProjeKcts were a radical achievement on a par with "The Great Deceiver" but not very much recognised as such, not least of all within the Team. But then, "The Great Deceiver" took 18 years before it was presented, and generally accepted. It would have been rejected in 1975, much as was "USA".