Artist: Fripp & Eno
Occupations: Guitarist, composer, educator (Robert Fripp), Producer, composer, sound designer (Brian Eno)
Album: No Pussyfooting
Originally released in: 1973
If this review of Fripp & Eno's No Pussyfooting piqued your interest in the work of Dirk Serries, visit the website of his label A New Wave of Jazz for more music.
No Pussyfooting was made in 72. For me, this phase from the late 60s and early 70s, up to the early 80s, marked a revolution in terms of what people created with sound. It is a period particularly rich in albums which were significant for musical history. But amongst them, No Pussyfooting may well be the one that defies conventions most.
Of course, the album is a collaboration between two artists who obviously already had left a mark on history. On the one hand, you have Robert Fripp, who is an amazing instrumentalist, one of the the founders of King Crimson and an explorative solo artist in his own right. And then, there's Brian Eno who came from Roxy Music and then, somehow, ended creating up at Here Comes the Warm Jets and, a little later, his ambient albums.
In a way, these artists were meant to find each other, just like me and Steve Roach were destined to find each other for our collaborations. They were artists at the peak of their creativity. Although their later duo albums were still amazing, they would never overclass this one.
And yet, even today, hardly anyone knows about No Pussyfooting. It's a work that is still awaiting rediscovery.
I feel like No Pussyfooting has an intriguing duality. On the one hand, it's the best drone album that has ever been made. And at the same time, it has something very spatial, very airy, very out there. It incorporates a lot of almost cosmic elements, but in the right sense of the word.
One of the things that instantly drew me in was the piece on the second side, “Swastika Girls”. That title alone was so provocative. Very provocative, in fact! But you have to put things into the context of the time. Many bands which were active then or a little later would work with very similar tropes - New Order, Joy, Division, their names alone were pure provocation, even though they did not actually support the ideology behind the terms.
And that's before you've even listened to “Swastika Girls”. This piece is so in your face, it's such a turmoil, it's so challenging.I can imagine why the labels weren't really happy to release it at the time. But I'm happy they did. Because this album changed my entire philosophy in terms of creating music myself.
What makes No Pussyfooting so great? What makes it so unconventional?
For one, it has almost no melody, and it doesn't seem to have any real structure. But at the same time, it works with so many interesting elements that in a remarkable way, structure and melodies emerge regardless over time.I realised: Okay, you have to listen to a piece from the beginning to the end to fully understand where the themes are.
You won't get there in right at the beginning You have to follow the entire process and absorb it before you reach the final. And then, only at the end of the first side, everything is revealed. It is then that you know what they wanted to do and what they wanted to create.
But No Pussyfooting isn't just a musical masterpiece. Considering the reel to reel looping devices they used, it is also one from a technical point of view. I would absolutely consider myself a technical nerd, but I still can't comprehend how they did it, how they created, for instance, the sound of Fripp's guitar in 1973.
I think I discovered No Pussyfooting around 1985, at the age of seventeen, and since then, it's been my Bible. I'll listen to it probably once every month.
For this reason alone, I have four LP copies of the album. Not different pressings or versions. Just to make sure when the vinyl eventually wears down, I'll always have another to replace it with.