also by King Crimson:
King Crimson made a surprise reunion in the 1980's with yet another new line up. This time their distinctive new sound is chiefly due to the addition of new singer and guitarist Adrian Belew. With ever-present Robert Fripp he creates an unmistakeably intricate interweaving-guitars sound. It's a far cry from the tentacled semi-improvised prog they were doing ten years before, instead "Discipline" has an ultra-cool brainy pop sound. The mechanically repeating guitar patterns, and the constantly twitching and bubbling rhythm section of Tony Levin and Bill Bruford, make this not too far from the spirit of comtemporary classical composers like Philip Glass. In the rock world it might be compared to Talking Heads for its new-wave funkiness, not least because Belew's voice is vaguely similar to David Byrne's.
One of the most striking tracks is the beautiful ballad "Matte Kudasai". Although "haunting" is a music review cliché, it really seems the most apt word for this song's spacious, reverberating guitars and soaring vocal line. Its pulse and "seabird" echoes remind me of Fleetwood Mac's "Albatross", but it's much more richly textured. "Elephant Talk" is a great song to introduce people to this period of the band, combining Belew's painfully clever word-games and those jerky-funky guitar sound-effects with style. "Frame By Frame" is another strong song with those interweaving guitar patterns again. "Indiscipline" is a reminder of the heaviness of their 70's stuff like "Red", with a frightening voiceover from Belew. Much of it reminds me of Eno and Byrne's "My Life in the Bush of Ghosts", especially the voiceover on the upbeat "Thela Hun Ginjeet". "Sheltering Sky" is a lovely soft instrumental, based on Fripp's fluidly shifting guitar effects (see David Sylvian's Gone to Earth for more of this type of thing).
Probably the best of King Crimson's 80s albums, and a fine example of a progressive rock band really progressing.
March 25, 2004