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King Crimson - Discipline CD (album) cover

DISCIPLINE

King Crimson

 

Eclectic Prog

4.11 | 1343 ratings

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TGM: Orb
Prog Reviewer
5 stars Review 36, Discipline, King Crimson, 1981

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I began with this album fairly early in my King Crimson collection, and, while it'd be wrong to say that I didn't like it at first, I wouldn't have called it a masterpiece. I simply didn't get the emotional appeal or interest or complexity of many of the songs. Fortunately, I revisited after a while on the progressive road, with a much better musical ear for what exactly was going on, and on that listen it blew me away. Emotion and visuals oozed from the detailed music, and I got a real sense of interest, particularly from the rhythm section. First impressions can be deceptive: a Crimson masterpiece of the highest calibre.

Elephant Talk kicks off the album very much as it will continue, with some dazzling guitar interplay from Fripp and Belew, a deceptively simple-sounding drum part from Bruford, who manages to contribute a unique feel effortlessly, and Levin's array of bass sounds. A number of grinding guitar solos (presumably from Fripp) and a brilliant elephant impression from Belew complete the sound side of the song. Lyrically (supplemented by Belew's excellent, shouting and rather confused-sounding vocal) the song is incredibly funny ('yes, it's words with a d this time') and quite appropriate. Begin

Frame By Frame, with a driving guitar duet from Fripp and Belew (as well as some top notch strectching bass from Levin) gives Bruford a little more space to play around very adeptly with his percussion, showing a very impressive control of the time and space of the song, as well as using some faster and slightly louder drums. The gorgeous vocals and rather grim, yet interesting lyrics expand perfectly. A minimalistic end again features. I can't explain quite why, but listening to this is an incredibly emotional experience for me.

Matte Kudasai is the album's not-quite-ballad, spotlighting Belew's vocals, with Fripp providing a shimmering array of guitar laments, from near-crooning to careful s. Tony Levin's bass carefully gives a rhythm to the piece, while Bill Bruford's tapped percussion is really quite an interesting change from the classic 'it's a ballad, the drummer starts playing near the end' approach.

Indiscipline is the album's loud cut, with a stabbing bass and clattering drum opening leading onto another great combination of the guitars, with a very powerful solo from Fripp featuring prominently. A maddened Belew takes the vocals again with utter success, managing to convey the lyrical insanity brilliantly. A break exhibits the band's ability to slow down or give the illusion of slowing down without breaking their energy at all. Bill Bruford continues to hammer out powerful percussion parts, at times very heavy indeed, and Fripp similarly handles his wailing soloing. Again brilliant.

Thela Hun Ginjeet (anagram) gives an interesting combination of ideas, going much more psychedelic and post-punk than the previous cuts. Tony Levin is given the opportunity to stand out with a catchy bass part with cleverly timed breaks to emphasise the others, and Bruford again shows a variety of percussion times. Fripp/Belew provide a lightning fast rhythm guitar as well as grounding wails, psychedelic screeches and nervous twitches. Over all this general madness, a tape of Belew accounting a worrying encounter with crime, and occasional chorus vocals burst in.

The Sheltering Sky is a very relaxed instrumental with some energetic effects, both from a sax-like guitar and a gorgeous mellotron-like sound (am I dreaming?), while Bruford, Levin and another guitar provide a swirling background with hollow percussion. A full, and lush soundscape, with every note contributing to a gorgeous atmosphere. Some great guitar solos on here, and a perfect end with Bruford just dropping off.

Discipline is more up-tempo, with a greater level of cooperation between the band, who seem to merge together into one dense unit with everyone changing ideas at once. Tony Levin gives us more inspired bass-work, providing a rather fluid texture, while Bruford again manages to add and subtract without me even noticing half of the time. Fripp's guitar stays entirely with the piece and yet contributes to some swelling breaks. Everyone manages to add in and stand out evenly. A perfectly level track, and a great conclusion.

The alternate version of Matte Kudasai provides an equally satisfying end, with a rather expansive guitar parts, somewhat more conventional in nature, and a healthy, relaxed feel. Retains the original's feel and expands upon it without simply being a repeat. No harm done. Good bonus material.

In short, an incredible album, and not one to give up on if at first it doesn't catch you. I'm not quite sure why I like it so much, and why parts of it are quite so emotive for me or interesting to me (I'm not a musician, so theoretically I shouldn't really care about most of the effects used, but... I do). Essential listening, though any introduction to Crimson should be done with multiple eras of the band.

Rating: Five Stars Favourite Track: Frame By Frame

TGM: Orb | 5/5 |

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