Friday, February 12, 2010

King Crimson, the Kings of Prog Rock

Absent Lovers-- King Crimson

Adrien Belew and Robert Fripp


Double cd set of a 1984 concert in Montreal, during their Beat, Discipline, & Three of a Perfect Pair period. This grouping is one of Fripp's best line ups, with Adrian Belew , Tony Levin on bass and stick, and Bill Bruford on drums, and what we have is something sounding no less than a more muscular Talking Heads (check out "Man with an Open Heart"). One needn't choke on that if Heads aren't their idea of heaven, because the abrasive textures, the angular riffing, gamelon rhythms and swarming-bees improvisations abound aplenty here. Tasty. Crankier, spookier, harder, this is the goth side of Crimson, though there is little in the alternately playful/deadpan visage of the band's characters that gives you any hint of just how serious you need to take them. Hint: just seriously enough. Belew is one of the great rock guitarists, for sheer whammy bar genius-- no one does six-string torture bends like him, save the sainted and departed Jimi-and I admit, I'm a sucker for his Kerouacian lyrics. I'm hardly the biggest Kerouac fan ever--in fact, I think he's an absolutely horrible novelist-- but Belew is someone who picked up on what was trying to be done and made art out of it. Choppy rhythms and jerky pops and beeps; truly a band of great surprise. Fripp is the great Bringer of Chaos, and what's impressive is that he's been able to provide an art-context for his unique music and incoherent aesthetics quite apart of the usual lockstep spheres and institutions that crush true innovation with the same avant gard template. Note: this is a 1998 release that Fripp and his DMG company have been sitting on for years. Somethings are worth waiting for. Another note: disc one is a cd-rom that is clunky and hard to navigate. There is a video, appearently, that comes among its features, but I've skipped it after trying too long to access it, and landed straight on the audio portion of the show, which, I hope I've made clear, is wonderful and wild.