Picks and Pans Review: I Advance Masked
A collaboration between Summers, guitarist of the Police, and Fripp, founder and recently reorganizer of King Crimson, seems an inspired idea. Both are influential and admired guitar heroes in rock's avant-garde. Their styles are instantly recognizable and poles apart. Summers is a watercolorist, a master of sound washes, of beautifully bleeding chords and translucent harmonies. Fripp is a mathematician, a mad geometry professor obsessively notching the air with precisely angled runs that return fascinatingly to square one. Fripp, too, in some of the tape-loop experiments he calls Frippertronics, has edged occasionally into more impressionistic efforts that might bridge the gap between the extremes of the two men's styles. For most of this record, though, Summers and Fripp superimpose their styles on each other (there are no vocals and only peripheral percussion) without creating a genuine synthesis. In the title cut, Fripp dominates. Under Bridges of Silence is very Summersy. China-Yellow Leader harkens back to the sound of Fripp's enticing 1980 dance band, the League of Gentlemen. And so it goes. Which is not to say the pair doesn't offer up beautiful and intriguing sounds, or that Summers doesn't humanize Fripp that Fripp doesn't give rhythmic impetus to Summers' billowing style, or that there aren't moments when you aren't sure who's who.