Thirty years is a long time to go between albums. It’s pretty hard to believe it was that long ago when the last Fripp & Eno album was released. This is no reunion though, the pair have collaborated on projects and remained close friends throughout the three decades since we last saw them on the back of the Evening Star album.
By today’s standards, the “ambient” music scene in the early 70s was a bit sparse. So sparse, in fact that this pair was it. Their first release, (No Pussyfooting), was indeed a pioneering work that would help inspire an entire genre. It would take at least 20 years for this genre to fully mature but by the mid-90s with the advent of the techno movement there were literally hundreds of “ambient” artists that had arrived on the scene. This may have provided a little problem for Eno and Fripp and the obstacle could have been a simple question like – what to do now? The answer, also quite simple – pick up right from where you left off.
Things have definitely changed in the past 30 years though. The equipment is much more sympathetic while the listeners might not be. The recipe of soothing synthesizer soundscapes alongside subtle guitar excursions still works very well but they’ve cut down on the 18-20 minute tracks in favor of more manageable length in the 5 to 9 minute range. Personally, although I have a soft spot for the original albums, I think this disc has much more to offer. The music has an up-to-date feel and the space theme comes across very well, especially on the last track “Terebellum”. Although most of the tracks are ambient and fairly nebulous, the piece “Altair” actually has a programmed beat.
When I had read people’s first views on The Equatorial Stars I didn’t think it would be interesting enough to hold my attention. I’m glad to say that my instincts were wrong and that after such a long period this is a very momentous return for this trailblazing duo.
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