Brian Eno and Robert Fripp developed a novel form of tape recorder which would loop everything it recorded quieter and quieter until it disappeared. Fripp stuck a note saying “No Pussyfooting” on it. In other words, no compromise and no pandering to a commercial majority. The result – ‘No Pussyfooting’s two twenty-minute tracks – is a brain-melting space-scape; its the sound of Jupiter and Saturn reaching a simultaneous orgasm. Eno’s hypnotic background loops are put together with Fripp’s guitar soloing, which sidesteps being overblown because it doesn’t sound like he’s trying hard or showing off. It sounds like it just hasto come out like a controlled explosion slowed down 100 times. This could also be described as the first truly ambient record; it’s not meant to be solely focused on. It’s meant to hang in the background and lend an atmosphere, but even so, there’s something about it that begs to be played loud. Sometimes it takes a little while to get going, allowing Eno’s slowly building loops to lull you into a stupor before Fripp punches the speakers with his howling guitars. So basically, at the time, no one had heard anything like this and today it still holds its own as one of the most original pieces of experimental music of the 20th century and a triumph of reckless, single-minded ambition.
At the time, everyone, from the record label to Fripp’s fellow members of King Crimson, hated it. They didn’t get it. Less surprisingly, it failed to chart. It debuted at an insultingly low price and only fairly recently became acknowledged as the great and revolutionary record it is. It’s a mesmeric, slow, strangely soulful collapse into a black hole. 37 years later, it has lost none of its effect. No pretensions, no clichés, no pussyfooting.
Key Track: The Heavenly Music Corporation
Listen to this: Loud, when tired and suggestible.