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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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Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer
2 stars That troublesome two-star rating is entirely provisional, even after five years of retroactive hindsight. It's an accepted fact that every new King Crimson album will initially sound a little strange, and rightfully should, for such a forward thinking band. In my experience the more immediately appealing highlights of the Crimson back catalogue ("Red", "THRAK") invariably lose some of their freshness after too few spins, while the more difficult and challenging efforts ("Lizard" springs to mind) are the ones with legs.

It can typically take years before a new King Crimson album begins to sound normal, but this year 2000 release may prove to be an unhappy exception.

I'll be the first to admit it fell victim to unrealistic expectations, always a risk with those select few bands at the top of the aesthetic totem pole. After the revelation of the 4- disc ProjeKcts box set (to my ears representing the most exciting musical development in Crimson's long and varied career) I felt this one should have been a masterpiece: the breakthrough album that saw the belated flowering of Rhythm Buddies Trey Gunn and Pat Mastelotto, who for years were merely faces in the Double Trio crowd, always in the shadow of Tony Levin and Bill Bruford.

It didn't quite work out that way. The effort was shortchanged by a rushed production job, and by the fact that the lengthy research and development of the ProjeKcts wasn't used to its fullest potential. Instead of extending the glorious freedom of the 'V'- drum driven ProjecKct improvisations, the group simply took some of the more accessible moments and force-fit them into labored compositions. The Light, Heavy, Contrary ConstruKction cycle from P2 was distilled into the title track here; the monster riffs of P3's "Masque 12" and P4's "ProjeKction" became "Into the Frying Pan", and so forth.

And the sound of the mix was relentlessly grim, even by King Crimson's well-established standards, with none of the contrasts between dark and light passages that so effectively color other Crim albums. Even Adrian Belew's melancholy acoustic coda "I Have a Dream" was nixed in favor of an all-too typically heavy full band blowout, closing the disc on another loud and overwhelming downbeat.

Only the epilogue, "Heaven and Earth", attributed not to King Crimson but to the mysterious ProjeKct X, gives any indication what the album might have aspired to, given more input from the under-appreciated and always inventive rhythm section. Anyone curious about where ProjeKcts 3 and 4 were going should search out the ProjeKct X album, recorded parallel to the ConstruKction of Light sessions. It's a natural fulfillment of the techno drum 'n' bass ethos in those earlier experiments, and I wish Robert Fripp had released it under the King Crimson banner, instead of hiding it under a pseudonymous blanket.

In the greater Crim history "The ConstruKction of Light" might almost be analogous to the "Lark's Tongues in Aspic" album and the post-"Earthbound" Crim. How's that? Think about it: a new and radical incarnation of the band stands poised to shake the cultural tree, but settles instead (in the studio, at any rate) for picking up the easy fruit already fallen to the ground. It's the same old story: King Crimson has always had trouble translating its considerable energy to the studio. Only with the release, three years later, of "The Power to Believe" would the promise of the Double Duo line-up be fully realized.

Neu!mann | 2/5 |

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