Search - Andy Summers, Robert Fripp :: I Advance Masked

I Advance Masked
Andy Summers, Robert Fripp
I Advance Masked
Genres: Jazz, Special Interest, Pop, Rock
  •  Track Listings (13) - Disc #1

Japanese exclusive reissue, limited to 5,000 pieces, of the Police guitarist's 1982 collaboration with King Crimson's Robert Fripp that's out-of-print domestically, packaged in a miniature LP sleeve. A&M. 2002.


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CD Details

All Artists: Andy Summers, Robert Fripp
Title: I Advance Masked
Members Wishing: 6
Total Copies: 0
Label: A&M
Original Release Date: 1/1/1982
Re-Release Date: 4/21/1992
Album Type: Original recording remastered
Genres: Jazz, Special Interest, Pop, Rock
Styles: Jazz Fusion, Experimental Music, Progressive, Progressive Rock, Rock Guitarists
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 075021491328


Album Description
Japanese exclusive reissue, limited to 5,000 pieces, of the Police guitarist's 1982 collaboration with King Crimson's Robert Fripp that's out-of-print domestically, packaged in a miniature LP sleeve. A&M. 2002.

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CD Reviews

An Endearing Collaboration
S. Nyland | Six Feet Of Earth & All That It Contains | 07/31/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I recently ponied up for the remastered CD of this fascinating & decidedly uncommercial collaboration between two of the great unsung guitar heroes of the pop/punk phase of the 1980s. And while it's disappointing on one hand that no bonus tracks of unreleased material/alternate takes of the compositions were included (and most likely exist somewhere in Mr. Fripp's formidable library of tapes) it is a genuine pleasure to finally have this vastly under-rated little album available on CD. I would heartily recommend it to any fan looking to expand either the Andy Summers/Police or Robert Fripp/King Crimson universes.

Fripp & Summers of course made two collaborative albums during the early 1980s while working with both of their respective bands -- which could not have been more different if one had tried to find such opposites -- 1981's "I Advanced Masked" and 1984's "Bewitched," the latter of which sadly had somewhat less involvement by Fripp due to touring schedules with King Crimson. The collaboration may seem mismatched but in fact made perfect sense: The Police were perhaps the most commercial pop band to come out of the punk/new wave explosion of the late 1970s, where Robert Fripp had retreated from the music industry after dissolving King Crimson in the mid 70s, gone into seclusion for a period, and only re-emerged in 1977 as a session musician associated with borderline avante garde hitmakers like David Bowie, Peter Gabriel, and Brian Eno. By 1980 Fripp was actively plotting his return to the "first division" of touring rock bands with a sound and approach to making music that would ultimately find form in the 1981 version of King Crimson, based on complex polyrhythms of interlocking guitar parts that he would eventually name "Craft Guitar" (and can ultimately be traced back to his 1974 King Crimson composition "Fracture" with it's long, splintery, arpeggiotic solo section).

But in 1981 Fripp's "Craft" theories were still at an experimental level, and after utilizing the evolved approach of the "Fracture" solo on his "Zero of the Signified" solo piece in addition to his League of Gentlemen punk/dance band ("Inductive Resonance," "Cognitive Dissonance" and of course, "Trap") Fripp was ready to see how it would sound to involve another guitarist playing as counterpoint to this method, and made a very natural selection of Andy Summers as his "test subject." Summers and Fripp had known each other since adolescence while growing up in the same section of Bournmouth, and had sort of known all along that they would probably eventually perform together in one manner or another. Summers was also at one point considered as a transitional member of the early King Crimson bands, but his style of playing was judged not to be suitable for the "heavier" rock band sounds that Fripp was exploring.

By the time of this recording, however, the situation was much different: Fripp had become one of the darling session guitarists of the Byrne/Eno circle of New York & London based punk/pop bands (a distinction shared with Adrian Belew, destined to join Fripp's "Discipline" era King Crimson projects soon after this release), and the proto new wave/jazz/reggea sounds that Andy Summers had helped to popularized with The Police was the vogue of the day: Summers' jazz style of minimalist playing was, along with Stewart Copeland's dumming, the key to The Police's unique sound, with his use of pedal synthesizer and delay/effects boards adding a complex harmonic depth to albums like "Zenyatta Mondatta" and "Ghost in the Machine" that remain unique.

It was during a respite after Fripp's work with The League of Gentleman that Fripp and Summers apparently crossed paths quite by accident, and with both having some free time on their hands they decided to go into the studios for a month or so to see what they could come up with -- "I Advanced Masked" was the result, and is a remarkable collaboration in the truest sense of the word in that both of their styles & approaches to playing are equally represented as they "answer" one another's riffs. There is a genuine dialog going on between their guitars on nearly every track, with one musician throwing out a musical phrase and the other replying in kind, albeit with their own unique methodology.

While it can be said with a degree of cynicism that "Fripp plays circles around Summers" such is actually the entire point of the experiment. Most of the compositions are staged as Summers providing a rhythmic and melodic base upon which Fripp effortlessly floats his trademark whirls of synthesizer enhanced guitar sound. Like Adrian Belew would rather set out to do with King Crimson, Summers does not attempt to try and "keep up" with Fripp's hyperspeed noodlings, but instead provides a bedwork of tones and rhythms that Fripp then weaves his own magic through, around, over, and under. The album is also a brilliant study in musical minimalism in that there are no drums or bass or keyboards to provide propulsion or fill in the sonic gaps, though the duo do add simplistic percussion tracks and overdub liberally with washes of Summers' trademark guitar synthesizer fills, and the work proves that less can also be more in musical terms as well -- a sentiment echoed at the time by guitarists like Michael Hedges, William Ackerman and Alex De Grassi of the Windham Hill group of musicians that were also in vogue during the 1980s.

The content of "I Advanced Masked" is broken down into three main types of compositions: Rhythmic tracks that set an almost frenetic pace upon which Fripp would spin various solo segments, shorter "pastoral" pieces where the two guitarists would engage in the musical dialog or give & take of answering each other, and then more dissonant proto-noise segue pieces which find the two musicians experimenting with the noises their guitars and devcices make in a way that is more evocative of Fripp's avant garde work with King Crimson, Eno, Bowie, Van Der Graaf Generator, and later with David Sylvian.

Getting to hear the album almost anew again after a decade plus of being out of print one is first struck by how diverse the different songs sound, and yet how cohesive as an album it really is as almost a "concept" record. The opening title track "I Advanced Masked" sets the stage brilliantly, combining the sort of arcing swishes of melodics from The Police with the frenzied, hyper-precise playing of a classic Robert Fripp linking solo, under which a very "Discipline" like polyrhythm played by both guitars churns. "Under Bridges of Silence" provides a dissonant noise section with the two experimenting with feedback, delay and pedal synthesizer -- with an odd mishmash of percussive effects that owes equally to Stewart Copeland, Michael Giles and Bill Bruford -- before giving way in a traditional King Crimson screeching halt to the sweeping (and dubiously titled) "China - Yellow Leader" with it's two distinct segments, one displaying the Andy Summers method of electronic/pedal harmonics, the other a wonderful little showoff segment for Robert Fripp's infamous Frippertronics tape delay system, over which both churn with the interlocking polyrhythms that would become the trademark King Crimson sound of the 1980s.

A pastoral experimental piece follows, the haunting minor keyed "In the Cloud Forest" which is one of my favorite tracks from the album, and one of the most evocative & atmospheric bits of music ever devised, as Summers keeps a choppy echo-enhanced jazz riff bottom upon which Fripp floats a mesmerizing synth guitar solo that is one of the finest things he has ever committed to record. The next track, "New Marimba", not only lives up to it's name in re-defining the guitar as a rhythm instrument, but does so in an almost comical manner as Fripp quite literally plays circles around Summers' filler riffs and synthesizer pedal blasts in what is essentially an experiment in organized chaos. The album then shifts gear downward with the pastoral "Girl on a Swing" with Fripp soloing over a mesh of acoustic guitar and simplistic piano fills that recall his work with Brian Eno and the "quiet interlude" pop song segments from the early King Crimson eras. But let truth be known, it is not my favorite piece, and without the need to flip an LP album sort of brings things to a halt for a few minutes ... though Fripp's solo is appropriately pretty.

Things pick up steam again with the album's centerpiece section opened up with gusto by "Hardy Country," a successful enough compromise between the styles of The Police and Fripp's idea of polyrhythmic pop as to have found it's way onto a single. It really does sound like The Police in sections, with Summers playing an engagingly awkward solo pedal effected to sound like a sytar while Fripp builds the rhythm base with more "Discipline" styled riffs of repeated arpeggios. Of all the tracks on the album it is perhaps the closest to a "rock" song, and as such Fripp felt the need to throw a monkey wrench at listeners by having the piece dissolve into "The Truth in Skies," a dissonant noise segue composition hilighting the "SkySaw guitar" pedal effects he had been introduced to by Brian Eno.

And in the truest form of Fripp's persistence in making his music a study in harmonic opposites, the noise gives way to "Painting and Dance" with the two guitarists exchanging interlocking polyrhythms and distortion free solo sections that for many will be the high point of the album. Save for some judicious use of volume control pedals there is none of the "studio gimcrackery" embellishments from the previous tracks, with the two guitarists actually engaged in a complex dialog that has more in common with "The Sheltering Sky" and "Frame by Frame" than anything else on the record. And while it used to be my favorite composition on the album I have since come to appreciate more the next track, "Still Point," which is one of the great unheard Robert Fripp solo pieces that still makes my jaw hang open in awe of after twenty-five years. Fripp and Summers start with a minor key polyrhythm base upon which Summers adds touches of his harmonic pedal effects fills while Fripp engages upon a blistering solo that is as good as anything else he has ever released. Effortlessly scaling up and down the length of his fret board Fripp demonstrates once again that he is the Wizard of Solo Rock Guitar who usually does not reveal the true extent of his powers in the presence of mere mortals: It is the most inspired and original track on the album and reason enough for devotees of his unique brand of pop/rock to seek this CD out.

The last three tracks are a bit of a let down however, and I usually do not bother beyond "Lakeland/Aquarelle," which is sort of a major key version of "In the Cloud Forest" and serves as a nice lullabye piece who's sense of floating dreamily is banished summarily with "Seven and Seven" and the nearly unlistenable "Stultified," two dissonant compositions that seem to have been created with the deliberate intention of driving listeners to switch the damn thing off. Stockhausen may have been impressed but I fail to see the point in the pieces beyond elementary arty noise indulgences, and wish to this day that they had been left off the album. "Lakeland/Aquarelle" is usually where I call it a day.

In closing, if there is anyone I can recommend this album to more than even fans of Fripp & Summers' more well-known work, it would be to someone looking for a gift for a young guitarist who is perhaps hung up on noise & flash rather than technique or method. Not only is it amongst the best work ever recorded by the two musicians even when looking at their own catalogs, it is a brilliant study in a collaboration, with two artists giving each other the room to not only shine on their own but contribute to a greater whole than amounts to something more than the sum of their parts. You can tell that both musicians were actively **LISTENING** to what the other was playing rather than just spouting off on their own. It's a great lesson in how to work with another musician to create new forms, as well as a great example of how rock music can result in atmospheres in addition to straight forward songwriting.

Now with all that said, where are the alternate takes? They MUST exist and the time is right, release them. Please."
No "YAWN" here...Classic Frippian and Summerian for sure!
Matthew L. Taylor | Olean, NY | 09/25/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Wow. This is a lovely recording of some extremely Frippian Prog. You can definately hear Andy Summers' influences in the subtext. Yes, you have to be sort of predisposed to early 80's Experimental and Prog to appreciate this unit. If you listen to Fripp's King Crimson or any Andy Summers solo stuff, this will satisfy your need for more. Fripp's "Crafy" guitar style shows up here and the intricracies abound. Definately for the Prog efficianado and the 80's-style ambient lover."
The Crimson Police
Wayne Klein | My Little Blue Window, USA | 10/20/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)

"As you'd expect from the guitarists from King Crimson and The Police, "I Advance Masked" sounds like a collison of instrumentals that both bands recorded (particularly the 80's version of King Crimson with Adrian Belew, Tony Levin and Bill Brufford aiding and abetting Fripp). Released in 1982, there are elements of Fripp and Summer's approach with their popular bands sprinkled throughout the music.

The polyrhythmic structured style of playing that Summers used in The Police provides a perfect backdrop for Fripp's rapid fire deliver. The result is an album heavy on atmospheric guitar textures. There's plenty of melodic material as well such as the beautiful and evocative "Girl on a Swing" and "Lakeland". The slightly off center, askew funhouse melodies take this far out of Windham Hill territory.

Fans who enjoyed some of Summer's instrumental pieces (and b-sides for singles)that he recorded with The Police as well as on his own solo albums and Fripp's textured playing on tracks such as "Matte Kundasi", "The Sheltering Sky" from King Crimson's "Discipline" will enjoy this album. Keep in mind that there are no vocals and the principle instruments are guitars (although Summers and Fripp also play bass, various sythesizers and various percussion instruments to fill out the sound on the album)and you'll enjoy this unusual album. The duo would collaborated on a follow up album "Bewitched" which is equally as fascinating and melodic although I personally think that album sounds a bit more like Summers and less like Fripp in terms of the compositions.

The remaster sounds quite good although I'm only comparing it to the original vinyl (I never had the album on CD). Sadly A&M/UMG have chosen NOT to give this a deluxe reissue. There are no liner notes (although the original graphics are reproduced as closely as possible)and no bonus tracks included. I would have been interested in reading Summers and Fripp's take on the recording 25 years later. Summers was going through a painful separation from his wife which one wouldn't know about from the often rich melodic tapestry that these two create. Still, tracks like "Stultified", the title track and the moody "The Truth of Skies" with its wash of sythesizer and use of effects pedals do hint at something darker underneath this terrific album.