Fripp & Eno / Brian Eno / Robert Fripp

Beyond Even (1992-2006)

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Just when you thought they've ceased for good, they come up with something like this. Beyond Even (1992-2006) is yet another collaborative project by guitarist Robert Fripp and "ist" Brian Eno. It's true that the pair's No Pussyfooting and Evening Star, recorded in the '70s, were groundbreaking recordings in the treatment of atmospheres, the employment of tape loops, and even prototypes for what Eno would call ambient music (and they were actually quite striking and beautiful in places), but their last meeting, 1995's The Equatorial Stars, was a bit dour even if it did contain some of the same charm. This double-disc is a strange twinning of the same material. Disc one simply features these 13 pieces as a whole work without gaps for 56-and-a-half minutes. Disc two contains a couple of seconds of silence between each cut. While completists may need this, not really anyone else does. The percussive-heavy effects and far more prominent aural wash backdrops all feel like U2 demos from Zooroopa cast-offs. Fripp's guitar playing is more insistent, using digital delays to some nice effects, but even he doesn't sound particularly curious or inspired. If anything, this entire thing comes off as a pair of old noodlers messing about in a digital studio. The beauty of Eno was in being able to melt into the background and paint sound, not come on so assertively his now generic ideas are in the forefront. Certainly there will be those who champion this collection of half-baked notions as the work of genius and yet another step forward. Only "Timean Sparkles," clicking in and 2:47, contains a bit of the old magic. Besides old age, it's difficult to see where that forward actually leads. Too bland to be regarded as musically interesting even in its more dynamic sections, too noisy to be hidden in the background for mere pleasant and ignorable listening, Beyond Even (1992-2006) actually registers in the loss column as utterly forgettable.

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