Loops over Loops : What are Frippertronics? #Guitar #Fripp #ambient

Robert Fripp is an English guitarist, member of King Crimson. He worked with Brian Eno or David Bowie. Sometimes he has a really weird way to weave notes…

Wiki says : Frippertronics is an analog delay system consisting of two side-by-side tape recorders, configured so that the tape travels from the first machine to the other, allowing the sound recorded by the first machine to be played back later on the second, thus causing the delayed signal to repeat while new audio is mixed in with it. The amount of delay (a few seconds) is controlled by increasing or reducing the distance between the machines.

Voilà. It’s like a painter who would paint OVER his own work, continuously. The music speaks, then goes away, then goes back while the instrumentist plays over it, etc. Today it can be done digitally, of course!

Here’s an example at the beginning of a Peter Gabriel song :

Of course you can visualize the effect, like an eternal balancing loop. If you click towards the end of the song, you’ll hear this “cloud” of looping sounds…

David Sylvian uses it a lot, in the Splendid album Gone to Earth. The balancing decors of Healing place is made of Frippertronics :


Well, you’ll find more on YouTube!

My question is coming : why is it so rare today to hear this good “trick”? And if I enlarge this question it becomes a structure and a tool :

As a creative person, do you know (or would you like to search for it?) someone who invented a good rare way to invent in your discipline? In what area? Architecture? Poetry?

What tool would you pick up in order to use it your way?

What could a musician like Tim Exile do with a set of continuously vanishing loops?

What could be a darker way to Frippertronic? Listen to the guitars-weaving behind :

Thanks for reading!




Reaching by Taking Off

Is it important to not believe?

The answer is probably yes for creatives.  If you invent something you have to, at some point, target the “I don’t believe it” factor. “You can’t do that” must be addressed.

We invent mainly by modifying. You add a characteristic or you make it smaller, or bigger.  Bending what you already have increases the strength of the item.  Maybe !


There is another way to invent something : Taking off.

Pick any human activity and play with that lever. Take off. The “less is more” tool.

Steve Jobs invented the iPhone when he decided to kill the physical keyboard.  This concept left a place for the screen and eventually the dropdown keyboard came to life.

Google had a great idea when they decided to take off everything from their page except the logo and the search tool.  No publicity or list of pages was there.  This was contrary to their Yahoo or Altavista competition at the time.

Peter Gabriel once asked his drummer to throw the high-hat. What?!! He replied, “I have a free hand now. What will I do with it?”. That was the point, exactly…

It can be useful to draw a picture of this activity or make a list of what’s already at play here. Then: CUT SOMETHING!

Take an umbrella.  Take the color off.  Now it’s transparent.  Kill the handle and you suddenly need to find a way to hold it (magic? levitation? fixing it to where?). And what if you take off the fabric, or the plastic, or the umbrella ribs?  Is it still an umbrella?

Now for a poem. What can you cut?

A few words – up to the reader to decide?
Structure – words wandering off the page – a calligram?
Support – no paper, so where is the poem now?

What else is there?


Maybe sometimes, instead of pushing all the levers to maximize the course, you can try to cut one small element off the machine and then watch what happens.  Maybe the whole system will move along faster, or maybe you’ll find an idea so great it becomes ground-breaking.