The mythology and lightness of “Leviathan” on #neuguitars #blog
It took Covid 19 to see the return of the King Robert Fripp with a new album, “Leviathan”, in collaboration with the duo The Grid, David Ball (ex Soft Cell) and Richard Norris. The King in league with a dance duo? Apostasy? Let’s not joke.
First of all, the three are not at their first meeting: Fripp collaborated on the album Grid 456 (1992) in the songs “Ice Machine” and “Fire Engine Red”.
David Ball and Richard Norris also remixed David Sylvian and Robert Fripp’s track “Darshan (1993)” and released the Grid / Fripp collaboration “A Cabala Sky” in 2014.
So the three are not new to collaborations and this album could be considered as the final fruit of a journey started years ago. I have to say that both the title “Leviathan” and the images of Michael Finn’s rigorous gray paintings on the cd / dvd cover deviate a little from expectations from the final result. In the nine tracks that make up the album there is, in reality, no trace of biblical monsters, nor of frightening sea snakes, nor of living fossils dating back to the Miocene. The musical Leviathan made by The Grid and Fripp looks more like a Moby Dick who left behind the years of hard hunting and fighting on the high seas, finally reaching a playful and quiet maturity after crossing oceans around the world . A whale that elegantly plunges into the cold and deep fjords of the north as well as into the cheerful and colorful seas of the south.
In this time of Covid 19 it cannot be said that Fripp has remained idle. He not only continued to play, but generously posted on his Youtube profile more than 50 videos taken from his performances in Frippertronics’ live solo. Not only that: he showed all his fans an ironic, light and funny side through a series of videos made with his wife Toyah Willcox entitled ‘Toyah and Robert’s Sunday Lunch’. I think this lightness has also moved into Leviathan’s music and that has been a good thing. Let’s face it, we are all tired. This is pandemic shows no signs of respite. The music of “Leviathan” brings a breath of lightness by combining The Grid 90’s dancefloor music with Fripp’s guitar soundscapes.
A lightness that reminds me of that expressed by Italo Calvino in his book “Six Memos for the Next Millennium”. In the first of these American Lectures, Italo Calvino proposed “lightness” as a fundamental value, a real key word, and perhaps also the main response to the crises of the beginning of the millennium that he foresaw. In his essay Calvino alters the perception of lightness by redefining it as a positive quality. Lightness is a means of gaining perspective. Lightness is a driving force. Lightness is a defense mechanism, an escape from the rigors of the world. Becoming light is letting yourself be elevated, accessing a different plane in which to look at the environment. In Levaithan’s music, lightness means changing one’s perspective on the issues that weigh down a person, it means relieving the discomfort of that weight. The music on this album conveys an almost shamanic knowledge: when life overwhelms us with diseases, infections and other tragedies, knowing how to reach a higher level of consciousness is a way to change the face of reality. I don’t know if Fripp and associates have ever read Italo Calvino’s essay, but their music gives me positivity and joy, combined with a different depth. I feel their music as a transformation of ideas and I see its lightness as a transformative power. Had it been released at another time, this album might not have had the same impact, but I’m glad it was released this year. Thanks again.