Posted by Sid Smith on Sep 30, 2008 - This post is archived and may no longer be relevant

My thanks to Will Cruttenden for sending in this review of F&E from issue 296 of The Wire.
When No Pussyfooting was released in 1973 it wasn't the first record to bring ambient/minimalist music to rock audiences - coming a couple of years after Popol Vuh and Tangerine Dream started experimenting with soundscapes - but it caused a stir among the english speaking music world, not least because it marked a radical departure for two of art rock's biggest stars: Robert Fripp and Brian Eno. By then, both artists had started drifting away from their rock routes: Eno quitting Roxy Music and Fripp disbanding the first incarnation of King Crimson.
Clearly, both were striving for something new so, listening to these pristine re-masters, it's surprising how Proggy the results were. Sure, No Pussyfooting's two side-long tracks are built around silky synth loops generated by Eno's twin tape recorders, but the most commanding presence is Fripp's serpentine electric guitar, rising out of the mist like some mythical beast in a Roger Dean album cover, uncoiling extended solos that rely on a conventional kind of virtuosity. That said, the album clearly caused some consternation - as evidenced on the bonus disc. Here we get "The HEavenly Music Corporation" played at half speed, simulating the long defunct 16rpm turntable setting, turning it into a sluggish 40 minute behemoth beloved of late night smoke-outs; and "Swastika Girls" is presented in reverse, recapturing the record's one infamous radio broadcast when John Peel accidentally played the whole shebang backwards.

Evening Star, released two years later, manages to more successfully fulfills the promise of post-prog. Terry Riley's A Rainbow in Curved Air makes its gargantuan influence felt on "Wind on Water" , with its ripples of heavenly ascension and, on the rest of what was side one, dreamy loops and wafting tones create a pastoral air prefiguring the mood of most folktronica. The album's closer, "An Index of Metals", seemed a monstrous assault in 1975: a grumbling, side-long drone of creeping menace. Heard now with ears accustomed to Merzbow - or even Metal Machine Music, released the same year - it's more like noise's mellow, pipe-smoking uncle - but it's still worth paying a visit.
Daniel Spicer.
You can read my own take on the original impact of No Pussyfooting had both before and after its original release (including the practice of playing the album at 16rpm) over on the blog