Before you all reach for paper and pen, there is not a
spelling mistaKe in the title, that in Crimson-speaK is something done as a joKe,
very highbrow humor, which is also translated in their rather quirKey music.
As King Crimson went into their third decade of maKing music,
all under the leadership of Mr Robert Fripp (now in his seventh decade), they
showed with this marvelous album that they had lost none of their relevance in
today’s progressive-rocK scene. This was the first studio album from this
lineup since losing the services of Bill Bruford on drums and Tony Levin on bass
guitar. Not that this was too much of an inconvenience to the band. As before
they had been what Fripp cheerfully called a double trio with two drummers, two
bassists and two lead guitarists. (Get the live album “Vroom Vroom” to hear
this lineup in all its live magic). So, pairing down to a simple four piece was
not much of a problem, especially when you have the caliber of musicians that
Over the years a succession of musicians have gone through
the ranKs of King Crimson (maKing Bob Fripp the progressive rocK equivalent of
John Mayall in his BluesbreaKers), many going on to superstardom in bands such
as ‘Asia’, ‘Yes’, ‘Emerson, LaKe and Palmer’, ‘Bad Company’,
‘U. K.’, ‘Foreigner’, and ‘Roxy Music’. Always leaving Bob Fripp to
carry on with the band in his own style, obviously a style that fits in with
Adrian Belew very well, as he has been playing guitar, writing, and singing the
lyrics for over twenty years.
On stage Adrian Belew has the pleasure of being center stage
and focal point of attention, as the man in blacK (Robert Fripp) has always
preferred to watch over his musicians and play from a seated position either at
the side or bacK of the stage, well away from the front lights.
As well as these two, we have two other musicians featured on
this album, Pat Mastelotto and Trey Gunn. Pat Mastelotto holds down all the drum
parts with renewed enthusiasm, never letting you once yearn for the times of
Bill Bruford, replacing power with power. Trey Gunn positively relishes being
left alone to hold down the complicated rhythm bass worK that needs to Keep the
music nailed down; his best worK being heard when Belew and Fripp fly off in
different tangents mid-song leaving the rhythm section to go off in a completely
different direction till all four musicians come crashing bacK together.
Although all four are now veterans of the rocK scene, they have lost none of
their love of good, violent, eccentric, precise, exciting, adventurous music.
“The ConstruKtion of Light” starts out with the rocKer
“ProzaKc Blues” in a similar fashion to “21st Century Schizoid Man” on
King Crimson’s debut album “In the Court of the Crimson King” way bacK in
1969, with its heavy rocK guitar tearing riffs out in heavy metal style; with
its treated vocals similar to “Iron Man” from BlacK Sabbath; its humorous
vocals a fine way to start any album.
Next up is the title song, which comes in two pieces and
allows the guys the chance to show off their musical bangs on this nearly nine
minute long opus, before jumping out of the frying pan into the fire with
another classic piece of Crimson mastery. Then with a clever twist Fripp delves
into his own past and reconstruKs an instrumental from Crimson’s 1974 album
“Starless and Bible BlacK’’ and we get ‘FraKtured’, the center piece
of the album, in which all the musical sKills of the band are laid out for your
Adrian Belew gets the chance to sing the superbly ludicrous
“The World’s My Oyster Soup Kitchen Floor Wax Museum”, which hears more
tongue twisters than round ‘Superstar Table’. The Big guns are then rolled
out for nearly ten minutes of “LarK’s Tongue in Aspic - Part 4" (Parts
1 and 2 can be heard on Crimson’s 1973 album “LarKs Tongue in Aspic”,
whilst Part 3 is on 1984’s “Three of a Perfect Pair”), where you are
privileged to hear some of the most sensational lead guitar ever laid down in a
studio as the band build to a crescendo of musically orgasmic proportions,
before the album’s properly laid to rest with the closing “Coda: I have a
Dream” a beautiful conclusion to any collection of music.
After the recording of this album the band then went out on
the road and toured the world; the results of which can be heard on the triple
CD Collection “Heavy ConstruKtion”, which includes extended versions of all
these songs with a stunning version of Bowie’s “Heroes” as the encore
number. Fantastic Stuff.
Added on to the end of this collection is a song from what is
called ‘Project X’, which is the same band jamming on what Crimson fans call
FrippatroniKs. The band gets away from traditional song structures and lay bacK
into the music with startling results. Lately a lot more of this Kind of music
has been coming out of the Fripp mind. His recent bacK catalogue is well worth
having a gander through for the more discerning punter, but for those of you who
prefer the more traditional King Crimson - there will be a new album in 2003.