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King Crimson - The ConstruKction of Light  CD (album) cover

THE CONSTRUKCTION OF LIGHT

King Crimson

 

Eclectic Prog

3.09 | 530 ratings

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convocation
5 stars Every new project by each incarnation of The Crimson gets better and better; these artists bring us to an altogether new dimension of King Crimson. Fripp seems to be asking the question: Just how far can one push the music to the edge of the anarchy of industrial sounds and yet maintain an esthetically pleasing theme? What is esthetically pleasing is, of course, personal. The music is raw and a genuinely true ".assault on culture."! Aside from the avant-garde nature of the performances, one could say it has an almost jazz-metallic blend to it. As an aside, although Progressive Metal is the worse thing to happen to Prog, these bands could learn a lot here. Belew's lyrics are just what the Mad Doctor ordered. Pat Mastelotto and Trey Gunn are at the top of their form; their complex mix of percussion and bass form the foundation of each track. At times Mastelotto strikes his snare sharply enough to evoke the feeling he's just delivered a stroke with a bludgeon, all with surgical precision; other times images of a rivet gun come to mind. The guitar work of Fripp, Belew, and Gunn is phenomenal. The performance by this group is so tight to the point of being amazing. There is not a wasted note in the whole batch!

"The ConstruKction Of Light" will not please everyone. These are some of the best jazz-rock musicians today who attempted to forge a new path. It's human nature to seek out what we found pleasant and familiar with something when the source of pleasure is re-encountered. Audiences can be like that. However, good musicians know that a static approach to their craft is often a mistake. Listen to this offering by The Crimson with the only expectation that something "new" is coming, then it's possible to see the singular originality of the work. In other words, don't go looking for more of the same old stuff here.

The assault begins with "Prozakc Blues". Belew physically distorts his voice for this one, leaving some listeners with the impression that the vocalist is some enormous member of Hell's Angels worst who's really down on his luck. Or perhaps it's just more elephant talk. Depression is definitely on the menu here, but the lyrics and music really work; Belew casts a nice hook with this song. "The Construkction of Light, Pt.1-2" Pt.1 is the sound of industry. Men at work! Having just toyed with the depths of depression in "Prozakc Blues", Pt.2 takes over with lyrics that alternate between dual chanting voices contrasting moods and the insignificance one might feel, pondering the vastness of Nature. Belew is not feigning to be deep, it just goes with the aim of the song. "Into The Frying Pan" heads deeper into the abyss of carefully organized mayhem. This is more like an extended chorus than a complete song, but it gets at the final point that the moments or periods of hell we go through in life runs in cycles. It would be a mistake to assume the subject matter of this work makes the entire album negative and dark. That said, this album does deal with subjects that are uncomfortable. A careful listener will notice notes of humor throughout; sometimes sardonic, others sympathetic. Kinda like the way one can slip unconsciously into thinking about life if times get tougher than expected. Well, bugger! "Frakctured" is a purely instrumental piece which begins with an austere cyclic picked guitar monophony that splits into a duet; both musicians echoing & completing each others phrases, mechanically, almost like a musical box. A mournful bass part that hints at a cello plays along. Suddenly the music erupts halfway through into more "heavy construkction." The guitar lines become more frantic; Mastelotto and Gunn add a marvelous industrial flavor to the whole thing. "Frakctured" comes as an extended interlude between "Into The Frying Pan" and the next track. "The World's My Oyster Soup Kitchen Floor Wax Museum": now that's a chorus! The lyrics here are more of Belew's 21st Century beat-nick poetry and they are a good complement to the planned chaos. "Lark's Tongues in Aspic, Part IV (Pt. 1-3)" is nothing but pure beautiful madness. Pt.1 creates an excellent state of tension and and instills an ominous feeling, with two gifted guitarists battling it out, note-for-note. Pt.2 takes the mood another step higher in intensity. This planned and superbly executed din, almost a rage, is so addicting. Pt.3 flies off the edge beautifully, there is real restrained rage boiling over, with each musicians performance. "Coda:I Have A Dream" takes the listener to the depths and the emotional pressure of the music just never lets up. Belew recites an uneven litany of tragedies of the last half (or so) of the 20th Century that makes this piece seem more like a lament in a war zone; an ever so good one. "Heaven And Earth" concludes this jarring but enjoyable experience. An unrelenting drive from the rhythm section forces Heaven And Earth forward, then different guitar parts wail amid a sea of strings surfacing and submerging throughout. The raucous polyphony ends by softening and fading into a primitive drumming.

You just have to love or hate this album on the first listen; it's hard to think of what kind of person would feel ambivalent about it. To those repelled or truly ambivalent, I would say it's an acquired taste. It's the nature of the avant-garde.

convocation | 5/5 |

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