Practising for my WaveForms gig at the Salisbury Centre this Friday, I stopped all the running loops and started into a loop of pure Frippertronics. When I first heard this music, in 1979 I think it was, I fell in love with it and wanted to play it. So simple, so evocative, so strange. A single long fuzz guitar note, faded in, no attack. Then another, then another in rapid succession, each looping till a chord or arpeggio is built up, but the sync varying with each loop. Maybe a two-note riff in the bass or high up. Single keening notes with classical vibrato. Each repeat of the loop decaying slightly, losing treble and definition, till the whole ebbs and flows like the tide or the breath in your body. Sometimes it’s left to decay for a while then the guitarist introduces a new key, perhaps short abrupt notes, or a plaintive downward slide, all repeating, all decaying. Live, the guitarist would then solo ecstatically over the loop, but on the record all you got was the loop, each piece lasting about ten minutes. This was the original Frippertronics, produced with a loop of tape slung between two giant Revox tape machines, with the guitarist a ‘small, mobile, intelligent unit’ responding to each looped note with an appropriate next note. There could be no mistakes – every note played looped so an unintended note was a direction that had to be followed. No erase, no undo. I listened and fantasised for decades about being able to play this stuff.
Now thanks to a Fernandez Sustainer guitar, a Zoom effects unit and a Giga Delay pedal, plus a little more ability to play and listen than I had in those days, I can play this form, for my own delight , and a delight it is ( not imagining another soul would want to hear it; anyone who does would be better directed to the real thing, below).