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King Crimson - THRAK CD (album) cover

THRAK

King Crimson

 

Eclectic Prog

3.62 | 740 ratings

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LiquidEternity
Prog Reviewer
4 stars A particularly strong album, and a great way for the band to return to form after a few mediocre albums and a hiatus.

THRAK does not return us to any era of King Crimson--this is something new. While the complicated interwoven structures of Discipline appear here, the feel is much more modern and computerized (without sounding like an album made by robots). Here, Fripp decided it would be fun to try out his new concept of the double trio, and believe me, it makes for some interesting musicality. Two drummers, two guitarists, and two bassists sounds like a recipe for endless noodling, but do not worry. This is not a jam fest all the way through. Rather, in most parts, I think the double trio is underused here. The now-famous Frippertronic technique gets a workout here (odd, though, since why would you double one guitar when you have two of them at your disposal?), and the instrumental bits are nicely complicated. The long and short of this album is, though, that the energy King Crimson can pack into albums but hadn't since Discipline has returned for THRAK, and the end result is pretty pleasing.

It opens with the VROOOM, a complex instrumental that sets the tone and the pace for the album. The highlight here is the main theme of the basses, which features a lovely harmony and sounds just wonderful. It segues into Coda: Marine 475, still more instrumental that builds in a descending manner while numbers are spoken over the top to correspond with maritime sorts of things. Dinosaur, the first song proper here, is a fun one with Belew roaring in a old geezer sort of way about being an old geezer. It's a lighthearted and fun tune, nothing you would expect if you jumped into 90s KC from the 70s. There really is not any of that haunting melancholy in the band anymore, even if there are sad songs and so forth. The mellotron seems to have vanished entirely. Walking on Air is a soft song, about what you would expect from the band, who has changed most of its sound constantly--all except the feel of their balladry. B'Boom is a cool instrumental that showcases the dual drummer setup, building into a massive percussion solo. It then bleeds into the title track, a song very similar to VROOOM, though independent and not just a rehash of the style.

Inner Garden is a quick little bit with some nice vocals that is supposed to ease some of the tension between THRAK and the next track, People. People is the greatest throwback to the Discipline style, featuring wild Chapman stick action and some really complicated interplay between the instruments. The energy and excitement on this track is very much in effect, and I find this one of those rare prog songs that really makes you want to boogie or whatever. It's not a dancing song, though. It just has wonderful bass work. One Time is an average sort of song, nothing terribly exciting. Sex Sleep Eat Drink Dream is a strange song with odder lyrics. It's more aggressive than most of the tracks on this album, though by this point aggressive has become so very common in music that it wouldn't really be all that special if any band featured it by this point. The main allure of their wild nature was how forward thinking they were. By this point, aggressive songs sound like something the band just has to do. Anyways, a strange section of rhythmic polyphony in the middle of this song makes it nicely experimental and something new. The album then closes with the two VROOOM VROOOM tracks, which hearken back to the opening track.

All in all, this isn't a bad release at all. But it isn't anything like 60s Crimson, or 70s Crimson, or really even that much like 80s Crimson. 90s Crimson is a new beast, and this album proves that Fripp still had plenty of interesting ideas in him at that time.

LiquidEternity | 4/5 |

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