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> 'Frippery' when wet

"Frippery" can be rather loosely defined as superfluity, or decorative uselessness. This is ironic, since Robert Fripp has spent his career attempting to make music that has real, tangible utility.

As founder and intellectual-musical mastermind behind King Crimson, Fripp has left an immense mark on the musical landscape over the past nearly 40 years. Crimson helped forge progressive rock, art rock, ambitious rock -- whatever you want to call it. Fripp also had a hand in crafting the first true ambient music, with longtime pal and fellow musical expeditionary Brian Eno. He made gorgeous space rock with the brilliant songwriter David Sylvian, and with the album "Gone to Earth" left his inimitable mark on a masterpiece.

And all the while, the reserved -- from the outside looking in, at least -- Englishman left a massive footprint on modern electric guitar playing that is as deep, lasting and impossible to avoid as the one left by Jimi Hendrix. Want to be a serious rock guitarist? Study Fripp in all his guises and learn to listen to the surrounding spaces.

Fripp doesn't seem to know how to take a vacation, so while Crimson is temporarily on ice, he has seized the opportunity to record and tour behind his "Soundscapes" projects -- a system of improvisation that employs his own Frippertronics ethic, in which several digital delay units are interconnected in order to reproduce delayed notes at varying regeneration rates. Sounds complex, and it is, but essentially what Fripp is doing is assimilating the work of four guitarists into one, and reacting to these "ghost guitarists" in real time.

Not exactly a recipe for the next pop hit, is it? But then, Fripp has never cared about that stuff. He would, one guesses, find such concerns crass.

Fripp himself has described the Soundscapes projects as pieces of music "based on delay, repetition and hazard . . . improvised and largely governed by the time, place, audience and the performer's response to them." So organized risk-taking, then, in the attempt to fully inhabit the moment.

Fripp, with his characteristic dry wit, further describes this series as "part of an ongoing exploration of how one might be a musician, professional musician and human being simultaneously; and how music might enter our sorry world, despite all our efforts to keep it out."

Fripp will do his best to allow some music to enter "our sorry world" on Wednesday, when he presents a Soundscapes performance inside the newly christened Town Ballroom -- formerly the Sphere -- at 681 Main St.

The show starts at 7 p.m. Wednesday. Tickets are $22.50 in advance and $25 the evening of the show ( For more fascinating snippets from the mind of the singular Fripp, visit
> Gig picks

On Sunday, the Town Ballroom hosts a punk throwdown featuring Pennywise, H2O, Death by Stereo and A Wilhelm Scream. Tickets are $16, and can be found now through . . . Badfish channels the music of Sublime at the Town Ballroom at 8 p.m. next Friday. Tickets are $12 now through . . . Tinsley Ellis brings his world-class blues to Nietzsche's, 248 Allen St., tonight. Ellis will play two sets, one at 9 p.m. and one at 11 p.m. Ann Philippone opens the proceedings at 8 p.m. Admission for the whole evening is $10 at the door. . . . Wolf Tickets CD release party, with gueststhe Wicked, Midtown Rebels and Liberal SX, takes place at 9 p.m. Saturday in Mohawk Place, 47 E. Mohawk St.. . . . Local musical mainstay Guillermo Izquierdo is recovering from a debilitating accident suffered over this summer. The former Original Skin frontman makes his post-injury debut with new ensemble the Corrections at 8 p.m. Saturday inside Nietzsche's. The band will be joined by More Than Me, Scott Celani and Burning Daylights. Call the club at 886-8539 for details.


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