Gravity (Fred Frith album)
Name = Gravity
Background = orange
Released = 1980
Sweden, August 1979; Switzerland, August 1979
and January 1980;
USA, November 1979
Length = 46:24
Label = Ralph (USA)
Fred Frithand Etienne Conod
Allmusic" Rating|4|5 [http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:926m964ojep1 link]
Piero Scaruffi(7/10) [http://www.scaruffi.com/vol3/frith.html link]
*"Progressive World" (4.5/5) [http://www.progressiveworld.net/frith.html link] | Last album = "Guitar Solos"
This album = "Gravity"
Next album = "Speechless"
Misc = Extra chronology 2
Type = studio
Last album = –
This album = "Gravity"
Next album = "Accidental"
(RēR/FRA 01) Extra album cover
Upper caption = CD releases
Background = CadetBlue
Lower caption =
Fred RecordsCD release. The cover includes a detail of the original Ralph Records(1980) cover.
"Gravity" is a 1980
solo albumby English guitarist, composerand improvisor Fred Frith. It was Frith's second solo album and his first since the demise of Henry Cow. It was recorded in Sweden, the United Statesand Switzerlandand featured the Swedish Rock in Oppositiongroup Samla Mammas Mannaon one side of the LP record, and the United States group The Muffinson the other side. Additional musicians included Marc Hollanderand Frank Wuytsfrom Aksak Maboul, and ex-Henry Cow compatriot Chris Cutler.
"Gravity" was originally released on LP record on
The Residents' Ralph Recordslabel and was the first of three solo albums Frith recorded for the label. Frith recorded with The Residents in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
"Gravity" shows Frith breaking free from the highly structured and orchestrated music of Henry Cow and experimenting with world folk and dance music. The title of the album comes from a 1937 quote by
Curt Sachs(printed on the album sleeve) in which he described dance as:
Allmusic" calls "Gravity" "... one of the most important guitar-based, experimental guitar titles from the avant-guitarist and founding Henry Cow member Fred Frith." cite web |url=http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?P=amg&sql=10:926m964ojep1 |title="Gravity" |work=AllMusic.com |first=Thomas |last=Schulte |accessdate=2006-11-21 ] It also describes the album as "... an entertaining and multicultural pocket folk festival."
The album cover artwork on the original LP record was done by
Robert Wyatt's wife Alfreda Benge.
Frith began exploring folk and dance music in 1978 with "Terrain" and "Moeris Dancing" on the first
Art Bearsalbum, "Hopes and Fears". In particular, he was inspired by the song "The Dance" that Frith and Chris Cutlerhad written for that album. Frith remarked in a BBCinterview: "Working on Chris’ words for "The Dance" made me think a lot about dance music and how different it was in different cultures, and how rigid and standardised disco was in comparison, and I just started exploring and mixing stuff together." [ cite web |url=http://web.archive.org/web/20060215162125/http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/experimental/interviews/int_frith.shtml |title=Fred Frith interview |work=BBC Music |accessdate=2006-11-21 ]
Many of the tracks on "Gravity" consist of "... melodic lines [woven] into complex rhythmic structures taken from different folk music cultures." cite web |url=http://home.earthlink.net/~srwolff/Fred_Frith_Story.html |title=Fred Frith interview |work=Defining The Edge: The Musical World Of Fred Frith |first=Sander R. |last=Wolff |accessdate=2006-11-21 ] The
time signatures are not the standard 3/4 or 4/4, but more complex signatures like 15/8. Frith commented in an interview: "All the time signatures we used on "Gravity" were taken from folk music cultures, where those kinds of time signatures are quite normal." He remarked on how surprised he was at the ease with which Samla Mammas Manna were able to pick up and play these complex signatures, particularly as they could not read music, rendering Frith's carefully written music sheets ineffective.
The opening track begins with a burst of manic laughter, followed by tap dancing overlaid with apparent random percussion and a violin. This sets the stage for 13 folk and dance instrumentals featuring guitars, violins, accordions, pianos, mandolins, saxophones, clarinets and percussion, plus
field recordings and plenty of clappingand "whirling". There is no singing here, not even on Frith's reconstructed version of Martha and the Vandellas' " Dancing in the Street".
"Spring Any Day Now" is a lively,
cabaret-like guitar and piano piece. The dramatic "Norrgården Nyvla", one of Frith's most recognisable tunes, flows into "Year of the Monkey", a chaotic mix of sounds held together by a piano hammering out a repeated pattern, terminating with a snippet of the 13st Puerto Rico Summertime Band ("ten seconds of the real thing", according to the album's liner notes). The album has Balkan wedding music, an Indian raga ("Hands of the Juggler"), and an Irish gig ("A Career in Real Estate"), to name a few of the many styles present.
"Gravity" is considered to be one of Fred Frith's most accessible albums. [ cite web |url=http://www.artist-shop.com/rer/index.htm |title="Gravity" |work=Chris Cutler's ReR/Recommended |first=Chris |last=Cutler |accessdate=2006-11-21 ]
#"The Boy Beats the Rams (Kluk Tluce Berany)" (Frith) – 4:54
#"Spring Any Day Now" (Frith) – 3:04
#"Don't Cry For Me" (Frith) – 3:28
#"The Hands of the Juggler" (Frith) – 5:31
#"Norrgården Nyvla" (Frith) – 2:54
#"Year of the Monkey" (Frith) – 4:11;Side Two
#"What a Dilemma" (Frith) – 3:11
#"Crack in the Concrete" (Frith) – 1:24
#"Come Across" (Frith) – 2:47
Dancing in the Street" (Gaye, Stevenson, Hunter) / "My Enemy is a Bad Man" (Frith) – 4:42
#"Slap Dance" (Frith) – 2:32
#"A Career in Real Estate" (Frith) – 4:42
#"Dancing in Rockville Maryland" (Frith) – 3:04
Fred Frith– guitar, bass guitar, violin, percussion
Samla Mammas Manna:
Lars Hollmer– piano, organ, accordion
Hans Bruniusson– drums
Eino Haapala– guitar, mandolin
Marc Hollander– alto saxophone, clarinet
Olivia Bruynhooghe– tap dancing, clapping
Chris Cutler– snare drum and maracas (3), clapping
Tina Curran– whirling, clapping
Catherine Jauniaux– whirling, clapping
Frank Wuyts– recorders (6), whirling, clapping
Etienne Conod– clapping
Veronique Vincent– clapping
Recorded at Norrgården Nyvla in
Uppsala, Swedenand at Sunrise Studios, Switzerlandin August 1979.
Gabriel Rosen– engineer (Sweden)
Etienne Conod– engineer (Switzerland)
Fred Frith– guitar, bass guitar, violin, keyboards, drums
Dave Newhouse– alto saxophone, organ (4)
**Thomas Scott – soprano saxophone (6)
**Paul Sears – drums
Billy Swann– bass guitar
Marc Hollander– alto saxophone, bass clarinet
Hans Bruniusson– drums (4)
Tina Curran– subliminal bass guitar (1)
Frank Wuyts– drums (3)
Recorded at Catch-a-Buzz Studio,
Rockville, Maryland, United Statesin November 1979 and at Sunrise Studios, Switzerlandin January 1980.
*Thomas Scott and
Colleen Scott– engineers (USA)
Etienne Conod– engineer (Switzerland)
*In 1990 East Side Digital and
RecRec Musicre-issued "Gravity" on CD with six additional tracks:
#"Waking Against Sleep" (Frith) – 2:08
#"Terrain" (Frith) – 3:50 (from "Hopes and Fears" by
#"Moeris Dancing" (Frith) – 5:03 (from "Hopes and Fears" by
#"Geistige Nacht" (Frith) – 5:18 (from "
Un Peu de l'Âme des Bandits" by Aksak Maboul)
#"Life at the Top" (Frith) – 1:40 (from "
Learn to Talk" by Skeleton Crew)
#"Oh Wie Schon Ist Panama!" (Frith) – 5:02
Fred Recordsissued a remastered version of the original "Gravity" with no extra tracks.
*The title of "Norrgården Nyvla" is the name of the studio in
Uppsala, Swedenwhere it was recorded.
*The title of "Dancing in Rockville Maryland" includes the name of the city,
Rockville, Marylandin which it was recorded.
*Two additional tracks, "Vanity, Vanity" and "Dancing in Sunrise, Switzerland", were recorded with
The Muffinsbut were omitted from the album. They appeared later on The Muffins' 1985 album, "Open City".
*amg | id = 10:926m964ojep1 | label = Gravity
* [http://home.arcor.de/nyds-exp-discogs/frith.htm Fred Frith discography]
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