Thursday, November 13, 2008
Fripp & Eno, NO PUSSYFOOTING
1973, Island; reissued by Discipline as a double disc; available
Original LP: 2 tracks, 39:38; double-disc Discipline reissue: 5 tracks indexed into different parts (see review), total of both discs 120:50
It's charming when you first hear something that still sounds as fresh as the day it was released. NO PUSSYFOOTING (fine, it's technically (NO PUSSYFOOTING), but the reissue varies on the spelling as well) is definitely one of those albums. When this came out, Eno was nearing the end of his time with Roxy Music and Fripp had gone on hiatus, temporarily disbanding King Crimson. Apparently Eno introduced Fripp to a unique dual Revox tape recorder setup. Similar in function to Terry Riley's time-lag accumulator, this setup allowed for layering of a bed of ever-evolving tape loops. These loops could have elements added or subtracted during the course of the composition. On top of this, Fripp solos to his heart's content, never veering into outright guitar god turf, but instead offering an emotional and very uniquely improvised tone. Hints of his Crimson work remain, but the result is distinct from that band's general sound. "The Heavenly Music Corporation", which occupied all of side one of the LP, is made up solely of this general setup. "Swastika Girls", spreading over side two and being named after a pornographic photo shoot (allegedly left behind in a studio and found by Eno!), also uses these elements. However, it adds a shrieking VCS3 synthesizer with a primitive digital sequencer as additional sound sources. The result is two wonderful extremes; "The Heavenly Music Corporation" is all soothing textures, while "Swastika Girls" has several abrasive (and almost proto-noise-rock, if there were such a thing) textures with hints of beauty. For the 2008 reissue (allegedly limited edition), Discipline has outdone themselves. Considering Fripp runs Discipline, this should be no surprise, but the deluxe reissue is amazing! NO PUSSYFOOTING has never sounded clearer, and the album will sound new even to old fans of it. However, this time, the bonus tracks are more than worth the fair price! Disc one contains the original album plus "The Heavenly Music Corporation"..... RECORDED BACKWARDS. The effect is truly otherworldly, and oddly enough it flows perfectly with the album proper. Disc two has another version of "The Heavenly...", but played at half the speed. This turns what was a beautifully soothing song into a deep droning mass of throbbing basslines and mysterious echoes. Oddly enough, it could pass for SunnO))) or Earth at this speed. This disc concludes with "Swastika Girls" given the reverse treatment. In this case, it's interesting to note how similar it sounds forward and backward, but a couple of listens will bring out the differences. As a strange bonus, all tracks are newly indexed so that you can skip ahead to your favorite segment. Thus, on disc one, tracks one through five are "The Heavenly Music Corporation", six through seven are "Swastika Girls", and eight through twelve are the reversed "Heavenly"; disc two has the slowed-down "Heavenly" occupying tracks one to five, and the reversed "Swastika Girls" on tracks six and seven. For those familiar with NO PUSSYFOOTING, the reissue is still highly recommended, as the alternate versions truly do make an interesting and vital addition. If you haven't heard it before, be ready; you'll never forget the first time you heard it, and even with the advancement of technology and Fripp and Eno's further collaborations, you'll never hear anything QUITE like it again. Needless to say, essential.