Friday, April 26, 2013

DGM live

In TIMR 5 I mentioned the record label Robert Fripp set up DGM - Discipline Global Mobile which reflect the philosophies of the organisation: discipline which is something essential to guitar craft and the Bennett/Guerdjieff teachings, global obviously and mobile being able to respond quickly.

It was started in 1992  to circumvent issues with copyright and distribution which have plagued Fripp like many musicians. In the first phase it release disks from King Crimson and spin offs and solo albums, Fripp, various of his interregnum groups (League of Gentlemen, Sunday All over the World), various guitar craft combinations and an expanding roster of related acts. The physical side of the label seems to have been dwindling of late, most energy seeming to be focussed on the ongoing rerelease of anniversary King Crimson editions

In 1998 they started the started the Collector's club: initially a subscription service and then individually purchased CDs of live concerts. And this is still going.

However, DGM have also embraced the idea of downloads quite dramatically - some have said to fuel Fripp's desire to see everything he ever recorded being released, but probably more significantly to beat the bootleggers (and in fact overwhelm them) and to meet the desire of fans for live recordings.

I first went over to the DGM live website a few years ago when I read about a live Fripp/Eno recording - it was of a bootlegged Paris recording from 1975: 3 disks, one of which is background and test loops. One advantage DGM have over the bootleggers is that their engineers (particularly david Singleton) work on any available recording (including master tapes, desk tapes, cassettes, bootlegs) to retrieve the best sound and the maximum concert. Usually these are terrific, but you are warned of poor quality. Anyway, the Fripp and Eno is fantastic - I had had a tape recording of someone's vinyl bootleg but this was great.

A bit later I bought the final Fripp & Eno recording, the Cotswalds Gnomes, which was a combination of sketches, outtakes and tracks from their career: a nice collection of various curiosities.

When David Bowie's new album came out there were reports that Fripp had leaked the secret recordings, because in his diary on DGM he had mentioned a dream he had had of working with Bowie. He had not in fact been asked to play - and would have considered it even though he has withdrawn from creating music. This intrigued me so I did some searching and found that yes he had withdrawn - the ongoing legal battles (culminating in the rap ripoff of 21st century schizoid man where the sample was used without his knowledge or permission). A great pity.

But, for me it reintroduced me to DGMlive, and as it was around Christmas when you get access to money and segueing into my birthday, I have been rather excessive in my purchases.

The site contains a variety of concerts

  • Frippertronic sets from the 70s and 80s where the base tracks (some of which were on albums such as God Save The Queen) have often been reunited with their subsequent solos.
  • Soundscape concerts from the mid 80s to the most recent available 2006
  • Some free soundscape soundworks from 2005 and 2006
  • King Crimson and Project concerts
  • Fripp with others such as Travis, Slow Music, the League

And the number is huge - the search is good but I had to page through all the Fripp related releases (which includes KC) to find the soundscapes which I have now made a spreadsheet of.

Now, I have never been a big live album person - I will and have bought ones from my favourite artists but have few if any bootlegs. And one or two from various stages of their careers seems to do me (eg the Bowie various live CD and DVD {though I don't actually watch the DVD, I rip the soundtrack and listen to that} or KC across the various combinations) so the collectors club didn't really interest me.

But the soundscapes are different - I bought all the albums when they came out & have recently got the last 2 physical releases. As the output of one person focussed on that moment, each is different. And from the DGM selection I have bought a large number (Ok - count the concerts: somewhere over 35 not including 4 free sculptures and some short excerpts). And also four concerts from Projekct Six - Fripp and Belew - because while Belew is not a great favourite of mine he is on electronic drums and Fripp solos over that magnificently.

The main reason I have bought so many is that each is different - even when they are consecutive nights the themes and responses change and develop; and there are changes across time.

However another reason is DGM's excellent pricing policy. There are 2 aspects. First, related to the length of the concert. Shows which were less than 35 minutes or so (usually when Fripp was a support act) are $7, regular length is $10 and a few where he was in residence for an extended period are about $14. But the real sucker-innerer is the tour sets. The first ones I bought were a series of churchscapes in the UK and you got something like 6 for $20; a recent upload of the nordic start to that tour was $16 for 6. So it makes sense if you like them to buy a whole tour - for the projekct tour I wasn't really sure but it was only 4 concerts and getting the 4 was only slightly more than buying one to try (which I did with the 1981 tour, but as that was 12 concerts it wasn't too bad). But the Projekct set has become a favourite.

Most of these have not been released as CDs (though on now is At the end of time, a CD from the Churchscape tour, much of which can be purchased across a few concerts) and some old CDs now out of print are available. Surprsingly not all concerts that are sampled on CDs like Live in the USA are available as downloads

This music is so magical, sublime, varied, exciting, relaxing that any one concert has much to recommend it - I might not play all 12 concerts from June 2004 in a row, but slowly I am recognising each's distinctive features. I don't regret getting any of them - but have probably paused for the moment!

Also, the site has something called Stormy Monday's selection where an engineer goes through and selects a track or two that may be of historic interest - a KC rehearsal, something from the Vicar, a Fripp outtake - these are available for free download for a couple of weeks, and then removed, eventually to become a 2 'disk' download (to buy). I have been following this year and putting together an interesting and eclectic collection.

(NB all prices are for MP3, FLAC is also available for a little more
The images are randome ones from a couple of concerts)

prepublishing update: last week a new set of concerrts from 1983 was augmented: there were three and now there is a set of 22 for about $70. Relatively short concerts but most (haven't paged through them all) include a 'lecture' by Fripp.

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