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

THE CONSTRUKCTION OF LIGHT

King Crimson

 

Eclectic Prog

3.09 | 541 ratings

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maani
Special Collaborator
Founding Moderator
3 stars First, let's all get over the fact that: the "original" Crimson was long gone; the "second" Crimson (w/Bruford, Belew, Levin) was gone; Mastelotto is not Bruford; and Senor Fripp did not feel the need to rehash everything he has ever written. Taken on its own, this new line-up - and Fripp's attempt (largely successful) at a new (or at least different) direction - is actually quite good. And although there are missteps, most of the compositions are interesting in that Fripp/KC sort of way. My major criticism is that this is a remarkably bad-sounding album for a band like KC and a leader like Fripp: it is not well EQ'd, and is actually downright muddy in places. Still, this is Fripp and KC, so one cannot really go wrong.

"ProzaKc Blues" is classic KC paranoia in blues form, with a "fritched" voice and lots of fun soloing from Fripp. "The ConstruKction of Light" begins with Fripp's newest obsession - contrapuntal guitar notes from the two guitars - and moves into a rather interesting composition in which the lyrics take a sort of "anti-Yes" form: i.e., where Anderson often joins positive words like "sun," "light," "love," "beauty," "joy," etc., here Belew gives us "pain," "die," "black," "empty," "hate," "ache," "rage," "sad," etc. It's not as negative as it sounds, as he intersperses positive words ("sun," "trust," "passion" et al). [N.B. Unlike my colleague, Bryan Adair, I consider the lyrics on this album to be some of Belew's best, for the most part far outwriting his work on "Discipline," "Beat," and "Three of a Perfect Pair," most of the lyrics for which I found at best "commercial," and at worst trite and naive.] "Into the Frying Pan" is a prog-rocker, the verse of which reminds me alot of Lennon, both lyrically and vocally.

"FraKctured" is a quasi-sequel to "Fracture" from "Starless and Bible Black." Beginning with some more contrapuntal guitarwork, it moves into some truly wild Frippmadness. The first half of the piece is basically a repetition of three sections, all with "clean" guitars. The second half is grittier, with "dirty" guitars and some mean playing from both axmen, and ending with some light contrapuntal guitarwork. There is no point in trying to determine time signatures here, as they shift so rapidly that they are almost completely non-discernable.

"The World's My Oyster Soup Kitchen Floor Wax Museum" is among my very favorite KC compositions of all time. Ostensibly a KC-style prog-rocker, it is lifted to new heights by Belew's fabulous free-associative, stream-of-consciousness lyrics, in which each word or phrase connects to the next one. For those who may not "get it," the title breaks down to "the world's my oyster," "oyster soup," "soup kitchen," "kitchen floor," "floor wax," "wax museum." My favorite line has to be "Cannibal dog house plan B happy as a lark's tongue in cheekbone china doll" (which breaks down to "cannibal dog," "dog house," "house plan," "plan B," "B happy," "happy as a lark," "lark's tongue in," "tongue in cheek," "cheek bone," "bone china," "china doll".)

"Lark's Tongues in Aspic - Part IV" is far better than Part III, which is the weakest of the lot. Indeed, it harks back more naturally to the original than a first listen might reveal. The best part is the mid-section, in which there is a furious "battle of the time signatures" between Fripp on the one hand (playing almost continuous sixteenth and thirty-second notes), and everyone else on the other, playing a disjointed, shifting time signature set. LTIA segues perfectly into "Coda: I Have a Dream," a truly paranoid rocker in which Belew makes note of the irony between Dr. King's speech and some of the horrible socio-political events that have occurred since then. Among many others, he invokes "tragedys of Kennedys" (before JFK Jr. was killed), and "Saddam Hussein, the bombing of the World Trade" - before 9/11. Truly eerie.

Finally, "Heaven and Earth" is an instrumental, credited to "Projekct X." It opens with "orchestral" Frippertronics (with occasional rhythmic background) and then moves into what sounds like a loosely structured improvisational jam. Although uncohesive, it is quite listenable.

Fripp and Belew are excellent overall; Mastelotto has an interesting approach that is different from Bruford's but equally appropriate to the music; and Trey Gunn (an original member of Fripp's "Crafty Guitarists," and a protege of Tony Levin on stick) more than holds his own in contributing to the overall sound. If this album had been more "crisply" recorded, it might have earned an extra star.

maani | 3/5 |

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