239 - Robert Fripp & Brian Eno : The Equatorial Stars
BRIAN ENO COMMENTS ON 'THE EQUATORIAL STARS':
It didn’t start well. Somehow my shoe nudged the little red button on the little black box with the little green lights. That button told the little box to tell the digital recorder that we would be recording in a manner far too tedious to explain when in fact we intended to record quite differently, in a manner also far too tedious to explain.
Unaware of the error of my shoe, and thus, one could say, carefree, we launched into playing, assuming that our efforts were being efficiently and uncomplainingly recorded bit by bit and byte by byte in the correct manner which is far too tedious to explain rather than, as happened to be the case, in the incorrect manner which is also far too tedious to explain.
The nature of the issue, not to be unnecessarily obscure, has to do with digital encoding standards. I promise I shall never again mention those words in our few brief moments together.
That first performance was unlike anything we’d ever heard before. All over Heaven, angels must have been turning green with envy and grey with worry that they might soon lose their jobs. And devils must have been weeping and gnashing their teeth and preparing to negotiate for our souls, souls big enough and dark enough to have made music like this. But listening back to what we expected to be nothing short of a singular masterwork, we heard instead nothing. To be perfectly honest it was not exactly nothing. It was a little bit more than nothing and therefore possibly worse than nothing. If you took a large sheet of metal and randomly sprayed it with a Kalashnikov or similar semi-automatic urban assault weapon, the sound would be close to what we heard. And if you now took that randomly perforated metal sheet and hung it over, let’s say, Van Gogh’s ‘Night Sky at Arles”, and then tried to look at the painting through the holes, you could achieve a visual experience analogous to the musical experience that we now had.
This episode – all caused by a shoe, one of a pair (I am bipedal) that I had bought in Holland not five days earlier and which had unfamiliarly long pointy toes - rather took the wind out of our sales figures and we never quite returned to form that day, despite recording over 2 hours worth of bits and bytes – probably reaching into the tens of gigabytes before we retired, shoulders slumped, another day older etc., from the oven-like conditions of my recording studio. Robert returned to his idyllic and relatively undigitized life which involves a great deal of commuting between Nashville Tennessee and Bredonborough, Dorset, whereas, over the subsequent weeks I dragged the screaming tape out of its dank dungeon and cruelly interrogated it….. stretching, squeezing, shredding, teasing, mashing, gnashing, splashing, trashing, looping, grouping, cutting, gouging, still unable to believe that it had no secrets to yield. It had none.
Our next meeting was blessed with fairer weather. It was a Thursday.
Brian Eno is currently at work in his studio on his forthcoming song album, tentatively called “Brian Eno: The Love Collection”.