Fripp and Eno
Beyond Even (1992-2006)
Opal and DGM Live
In the world of electronic music, the only force greater than Kraftwerk is the duo of Brian Eno and Robert Fripp. They’ve made a career of enigmatic beeps, boops, and ambient background noise for creepy movies, and even wrote the start-up music for Windows 95 and Vista. This retrospective of their later works comes as a clever two-CD set. Both disks contain the same music, but on one all the songs except cut 13 are one giant, segued track while on the other you get individual cuts. It’s like one of those dance music re-mix discs, except all the versions sound the same.
The collection is just what you’d expect — odd rhythms and slithery synthesizer lines over subliminal rumbles and the sort of noise we used to associate with alien encounters. Notes and melodies are conceptual, and there’s no fear of any sort of pop sensibility or classical symphonic structure that could interfere with the experience. This music begs for avant-garde video or Eraserhead-like stories to play out in front of it, and it all looks pretty good with the Winamp Milkdrop visualizer. They make a point of putting “Cross Crisis in Lust Storm” as a separate track on the disc with all the songs joined together, but I can’t recommend it as better or worse than the rest of the mix. Fripp and Eno aren’t an easy listen, but the ambiance and cluttered soundscape suggest a noisy, yet well-behaved robot doing housework while the TV drones.