(Discipline Global Mobile, 2014)
I spent the first ten minutes of the “lost” and apparently much-bootlegged Live in Paris 28.05.1975 questioning whether or not the audience would clap and cheer through the entire thing. The pre-recorded “Water on Water” opens the album with the most ambient of passages, the electronics barely causing a ripple in the atmosphere, and the audience, perhaps expecting something a bit more raucous (this is 1975 Fripp and Eno after all, quite close in proximity to their leaving King Crimson and Roxy Music, respectively), cheers throughout it, ebbing and flowing according to its relative patience, or my perception of it. I wondered, would the recording equipment of 1975 be able to cancel ancillary audience chatter? I texted my friend John, an unabashed Fripp and Eno enthusiast, and the only person I know who has this album, asking if this would be the case: Tell me – does the audience get tired of cheering Fripp and Eno after a while?
His answer: Would you?
Well, heck John, I hadn’t thought of it that way. Touché.
Turns out they do – as “A Radical Representative of Pinship” crests and crashes into “Swastika Girls,” Fripp and Eno coaxing a musical glossolalia from their instruments, I quite forget the audience is even there, and I think they probably do too. It doesn’t hurt that Fripp’s guitar takes on a more tangibly expressive tone, overwhelming any background noise that may be trying to seep through. The performance is certainly louder than “Water on Water,” although as anyone familiar with the duo’s work would recognize, it’s no less relaxing. What’s that word that Eno coined for this type of music? Ah right: ambient.
This is a crazily misrepresentational adjective though, because the Paris performance on May 28, 1975, at the Olympia is anything but what the term implies, at least in regards to music. It’s not sleepy, it’s not dreary, it’s not quiet. It is atmospheric, and if I was in the audience that night (I wasn’t – I hadn’t quite been born yet), I’d probably have allowed the performance to overwhelm me to a point where I could only allow it to lift me to higher states of consciousness. Funny, then, that “The Heavenly Music Corporation,” the composition leading off the album (No Pussyfooting) (which is played in its entirety here, along with the absolutely remarkable Evening Star), was intended at one point to be called “The Transcentdental Music Corporation” before Eno nixed it. (Thanks Wikipedia!) Back to the theoretical 1975 me then – I’d have freaking transcended time and space at the Olympia that night.
This reissue is taken from the original backing tapes used in the performance, as well as from the better bootlegged versions, and “painstaking[ly] restore[d]” by DGM engineer Alex Mundy. Its fidelity is remarkable. It’s been available in MP3 format since 2011, but has just been physically released as a triple-CD package. This is an absolutely formative time in Fripp’s and Eno’s partnership, as (No Pussyfooting) had been out since late 1973, and Evening Star would come out at the end of 1975 – the May performance was a full preview of that album. Those lucky, lucky Parisians.
It’s amazing now, in 2014, to think that anyone in their right mind would boo Fripp and Eno off of any stage, but in 1975 audiences were likely anticipating a meeting of sorts between King Crimson and Roxy Music, and were instead treated to the duo’s famous ambient experimentation. Anybody who did that was in the wrong and had no business being there in the first place. Neanderthals! Heathens! I dunno. It’s clear, though, that these were two masters in their absolute primes, and no matter what styles they’d tackled or would tackle following this, all would be judged against this fertile period. And hey, bonus! CD3 contains all the test loops for the performances. “You’re welcome,” said Robert Fripp’s Discipline Global Mobile label.
RIYL: Who do you think?