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King Crimson - Live At The Orpheum CD (album) cover


King Crimson


Eclectic Prog

3.03 | 109 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

2 stars Variations on a scene. Or a lack thereof.

First off, let's discuss the two white elephants in the room. King Crimson's three drummer lineup and the stingy amount of live tracks and their importance in the KC canon.

From the very moment that I read the news of Fripp's reassembled 2014 lineup, that was to feature three 'front line' drummers, I knew that this would be an impossible feat to transfer to a purely audible medium. I usually shy away from reviews that feature uber musicians like KC and prefer to leave it to the music pros. But as a live sound engineer, I felt my review of this album would be apropos.

I believe part of the reason for Fripp's veering into the 'theater of the usual' by placing three drummers up front is just that, theater. For a man that I'm surprised is not reclining on a couch at this stage in his career, while shredding out solos, a visual focus is necessary for such a staid live band. (They all performed in suits, remember?)

I actually applaud Fripp for this idea as any concert is a sensory experience. You feel the music. You see multiple drummers out of sync with each other. You hear the music. You've just had the emotional rollercoaster of waiting for the show to begin while in a community of like minded fans. Hopefully, you're tasting something pleasant as you smell your surroundings and the faint whiffs of hot electronics that emanate from the stage.

But despite what your eyes see and what your brain is interpreting, the sound mix of this concert is like any other with almost evenly distributed amplification projected outward, so that you can hear the back row of musicians as clearly as the front row.

Naturally, this type of sound dispersion must by means be similar to that of the ensuing audio recording for the show. Which is what we have here. The complete sensory experience of the concert has now been pared down now to only involve the senses of sound and touch (vibration).

The result is that the wonderful interplay between drummers and colorful touches of percussion and deft cymbal work has now been consigned to the right stereo channel and loses it's impact. There is a wonderful call and response drum interplay on The Construkction Of Light which works well as full stereo panning of the drums was utilized for that track only.

By the time we resume with album's last three tracks The Letters, A Sailor's Tale and Starless, we are back to a heavy left/right channel separation for the drums and Mel Colins' beautiful sax and flute playing. Jakscyk's and Fripp's guitars are also widely separated by extreme left/right separation.

I found Jakscyk's vocals to be well suited to the material performed and the band, on a whole, doing an admirable job but not even touching any breathless improvisations as was past practice.

The second white tusked beast in the room is the short amount songs that were assembled for this album and reason for their inclusion, while so many other stellar songs were reported to be played during this tour.

I can defend Fripp's need for theater, but not his judgment regarding the content of this live album.

SteveG | 2/5 |


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