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King Crimson - The Power To Believe CD (album) cover


King Crimson


Eclectic Prog

3.97 | 1170 ratings

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4 stars "She carries me through days of apathy. She washes over me. She saved my a manner of speaking...when she gave me back the power to believe." With this simple poem - sung acapella by Belew in a fritched voice - the best KC album since at least Beat (if not before) opens. Although less interesting lyrically than "ConstruKction of Light" (or even "Discipline," "Beat," or "Three of a Perfect Pair"), "The Power to Believe" marks another apex in the rollercoaster history of King Crimson.

Opening with that short poem, the album moves into "Level Five," an extended multi- section composition. It is no coincidence that "Level" begins with the same letter as "Larks," or that "Five" represents what would be the next "installment" of the Larks Tongues series. Leave it to Fripp to brilliantly waylay the possibility of an "oh no, here we go again" response had he titled this "Larks Tongues in Aspic, Part V." Yet there is no question that that is exactly what this is. But don't fret: it is leagues better than Parts III and IV. Indeed, it may be the most perfectly constructed, cohesive, tight and exciting KC composition since LT2.

"Level Five" segues nicely into "Eyes Wide Open," a simple but effective ballad in the style of the balladic material on "Three of a Perfect Pair." This leads into "Elektrik," which opens with a cute, quasi-brass opening. Then, using contrapuntal guitars as a "foundation," Fripp and Belew lead the band in a "guitars vs. rhythm section" composition in which Gunn and Mastalotto alternate two radically different rhythms while the axmen play a series of contrapuntal quarter, eighth and sixteenth notes. Although mildly overlong, it is oddly compelling.

"Facts of Life" opens with an intro of effects and "sudden percussion," moving into another fritched Belew vocal over some quasi-mixolydian guitarwork by Fripp. [N.B. Fripp has apparently "rediscovered" the mixolydian mode: he uses more of it on this album than he has in a long time.] A nice, straight-ahead (if oddly-timed) prog-rocker, this one also contains one of Fripp's trademark, massively distorted "chord" solos.

FOL segues nicely into "The Power To Believe II," the album's most minimalist, but no less interesting, instrumental. Opening with some effects, it moves into what sounds like an Arab call to prayer over a Middle Eastern rhythm (with Fripp in mixolydian mode again), then segues perfectly into a quasi-"Oriental" motif on melodic percussion. It then segues again, into a rhythmic, quasi-orchestral mode.

"Dangerous Curves" gives us a classic instrumental build-up (a la LT2) of Fripparanoia in 12/8 time, moving into an incessant, driving, almost Floydian section.

"Happy With What You Have To Be Happy With" (like "The World's My Oyster Soup Kitchen Floor Wax Museum" on CoL) is a masterful, aggressive song, this time about...writing a song. Along with a truly wacky Fripp solo toward the end, the lyrics of the chorus have a very "Knots" (r.d. laing/Gentle Giant) style to them.

"The Power to Believe III" is a deliberately disjointed, "industrial" composition (a la "Industry" from TOAPP). "The Power to Believe IV: Coda" is an instrumental with a very Vangelis/Blade Runner effect, ending with the same vocal that opened the album.

Overall, the guitar work is excellent, Mastalotto has really found his footing and is truly "contributing" more to the overall sound, and Gunn (as on CoL) not only holds his own, but acts as the "linchpin" that holds much of the album together. The only reason I did not give this album five stars is because it does have missteps, and is simply not comparable to albums like Court, Larks Tongues, or Starless. And although I consider CoL as good as PTB compositionally (and far better lyrically), I gave this album four stars because it is so much better recorded that it makes a world of difference.

maani | 4/5 |


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