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King Crimson - Beat CD (album) cover

BEAT

King Crimson

 

Eclectic Prog

2.97 | 764 ratings

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fuxi
Prog Reviewer
3 stars After only one album (the astonishing DISCIPLINE), King Crimson's much-vaunted "drive to 1984" already was in trouble. The sense of excitement and discovery that pervaded tracks like 'Frame by Frame' and 'Thela Hun Ginjeet' had disappeared; a mood of weariness and despair set in. I can't really bring myself to recommend BEAT, since three of its best songs are performed more convincingly on FOR ABSENT LOVERS, a wonderful double live CD no Crimsonite should be without.

'Heartbeat' and 'Waiting Man', for example, are sophisticated and gripping tunes. Not only do they feature some of Adrian Belew's most heartfelt vocals, the former piece is also accompanied superbly on twinned guitars, and the latter is based on a fascinating, marimba-like pattern, executed on electronic drums by Bruford. 'Satori in Tangier', BEAT's most bizarre and ecstatic instrumental, can also be found on the live album.

In my opinion, this leaves us with just two studio tracks worth caring about. 'Requiem' is one of KC's best ever studio improvisations - but if you're lucky, you will already have it, since it can be found on at least two of the KC box sets Robert Fripp has released throughout the years.

Finally, 'Neurotica' is a marvellously noisy recreation of mayhem in the urban jungle, featuring some of this band's most exhilerating playing. You often hear rock critics complain that KC's improvisations aren't up to scratch, since the band's members lack the virtuosity of true jazz musicians. We now know that this is untrue about at least one of them, and we even have an excellent opportunity to investigate some of those 'virtuosity claims'. In 1985, the gorgeous Dave Holland Quintet (featuring acoustic bass, drums, sax, fluegelhorn and trombone) released SEEDS OF TIME, one of their best albums - the most surprising track of which was 'Gridlock (Opus 8)', a musical recreation of mayhem in the urban jungle! There can be little doubt that Dave Holland & Co were inspired by 'Neurotica', since they copied many of its features (screaming police sirens and all), but believe me, folks, much as I love Holland, King Crimson's big city chaos is more intense, and far more fluently played! Just like 'Requiem', 'Neurotica' is undoubtedly worth hearing, but it too can be found in several box sets, and there is also a first-rate live performance on (another must!) the live-album VROOOM VROOOM.

Taken as a whole, BEAT will leave the listener unsatisfied. As with many other Crimso albums, this gathering of parts (brilliant though some of them are) does not make for a convincing listening experience.

fuxi | 3/5 |

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