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King Crimson - Heaven & Earth CD (album) cover


King Crimson


Eclectic Prog

2.59 | 8 ratings

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Man With Hat
2 stars Travel Bleary Capricorn: The Condensed King Crimson, Double Duo Edition

The parade of megabox sets for King Crimson continues (and potentially concludes) with the largest time period yet. Collecting various incarnations and permutations of King Crimson, Heaven & Earth covers eleven years of King Crimson history. Starting with the 2000 band that produced The ConstruKction Of Light (and conducted an outstanding tour to accompany the album release), to the 2003 band that created The Power To Believe (although the lineup stayed the same the ethos was a bit different), and finally to the very short lived double drummer 2008 band, which played 12 shows in select cities in the United States. It also includes the period before the 2000 band was concocted; the interlude of self-identified fraKctalization of the band after the double trio had dissolved, to become known as the ProjeKcts. Originally there were four identified projeKcts, most of which existed very briefly, and a ProjeKct X (which was the main King Crimson band improvising in the studio). Later a ProjeKct Six was formed; this brief reprise is also documented here. Most of the music for the ProjeKcts was recorded, combined with a completely documented tour for The ConstruKction of Light and a heavily documented tour for The Power To Believe (and a smaller 2001 tour in between), makes the cache of material for this box truly massive and gave the potential for this to be the best megabox produced yet to celebrate this awe-inspiring band.

Unfortunately, the scope of this new projeKct was just too large. As a result, every single aspect of the box is underrepresented. Part of me feels like the good folks at DGM have become burnt out by this string of huge boxsets that undoubtedly take mindboggling amounts of work to put together. This should have been at least three separate releases. One boxset strictly focusing on the ProjeKcts, another boxset focusing on the 2000-2003 period, and a King Crimson Collectors Club entry for the 2008 show. Given the amount of material available for both the 2000 and 2003 tours, it is conceivable that two boxsets could have been produced, one for each tour. (Although, it must be said, the 2003 band was slightly less interesting in terms of a night by night perspective, as the improv factor was nearly non existent.) There are several other concerns for me that really adds to the sting. Firstly, is that this period of King Crimson's history was heavily documented and properly documented. Many of the previous boxsets had moments where tapes would just run out or were recorded in conditions that produced poor sound quality. Everything here is recorded superbly. Secondly, the 2000 tour is horrendously under represented in official releases. This was one of the most interesting periods in King Crimson's life, as the improv was flowing and all the electronic percussion and guitar patches could create some otherworldly soundscapes and sonic explorations. (The 2003 tour is better documented, but does lose this particular flair, although it does make up for it in intensity.) The third additional nettle to the eye is that of The ConstruKction Of Light itself. Apparently, the original tapes of the drum tracks were lost somewhere between 2000 and when they started to curate this boxset. As a result, Pat Mastelotto went back and re- recorded the drums but unlike the purely electronic drums of the original album, he uses his current kit, which is a mix of acoustic and electronic drums, heavily skewed towards the former. Given the circumstances around the lost tapes, I can understand the re-recording. The issue is over the original The ConstruKction Of Light not being included somewhere in this box. (It also appears that version of the album is gone forever, as they've released The ReconstruKction Of Light as the 40th Anniversary Edition of this album.) I'm not a fan of when bands erase and rewrite history. I'm not sure why they couldn't include the original mix of the album as a bonus or even just as part of the BluRay portion of the collection, but alas, they did not. All of these hitches make Heaven & Earth feel like a missed opportunity.

What was included feels more like a summary than an exploration of this time period of Crimson's history. There are 18 CDs and 4 Blu-Rays, only one of which is video. First up are four projeKcts discs, of which only ProjeKct Two is a complete show (although ProjeKct Four is essentially a completely show, as only the encore of Vroom is omitted). Then there is a three disc set called Live ConstruKction that is the only representative from the 2000 tour. This takes as a base the full show from London and adds nine improvs from the 2000 tour spread throughout the program (one previously released). These are the best bits in the box. Several collections of this type (a complete show with extra improvs added) would have been appreciated, especially if full shows were never a real option to be included. Following this are two shows from 2001 and then two previously released shows from 2003, Live In New Haven and EleKtriK - Live In Tokyo. Yet, for some reason, this Tokyo show is incomplete. Why not expand this to a two disk affair and add the missing pieces from the Tokyo show? An additional disk wouldn't be out of a place in a 24 disc set and would add a shard of positivity to the boxset. The final CDs are a two CD set complied from the four shows in New York City from the 2008 tour. While it is nice to have some physical evidence this tour existed, there is no reason this needed to be included here. This has no relation to the main focus of the box and, as stated above, would have made much more sense to be included as part of the King Crimson Collectors Club as a separate release. This also would have opened up a bit of space for more live excursions. Needless to say the music contained here is excellent, that much is expected from the force that is King Crimson. (It is only fair to add, that all the ProjeKcts material is here on Blu- ray, however there two issues here. One, this is an inefficient way to listen to music. CDs are portable, easy to listen to, and easy to transfer to a computer or similar electronic device. Two, perhaps in DGM's zest to finish these boxsets, the ProjeKct X disc, the previously released ProjeKcts material, and all of ProjeKct One's shows were improperly transferred to the Blu-ray disc and thus have higher pitch and run faster than intended. This is certainly one of the bigger gut punches of the box, as the ProjeKcts were a fertile and fun experiment, and since they've breezed past them in terms of CDs, this is the only way the vast majority is presented in this boxset.)

All in all, Heave & Earth is a monstrous and monstrously disappointing megabox set by King Crimson. The double duo was a ferocious beast, but what is presented here is not. It's like a bad translation of a book into a movie. Tremendous amounts are lost and the results are superficial at best. Maybe this isn't Fripp's favorite period in King Crimson's history, maybe they are indeed tired of spending so much time and energy on these uber large boxsets, or maybe the powers that be feel the double duo doesn't deserve the treatment that the 70s quintet/quartet received. It's amazing to believe this process started with a double-digit disc set for one singular album, and at (or near) its end, over a decade of activity is condensed together in one box with various configurations basically passed over. Supposedly, there will be a boxset dedicated to the 1969 era of the band. (Of course, it was originally teased for a release at the end of 2019, which is now, and there is no scuttlebutt about it, so perhaps this was just a pipedream.) I hope there is so that these megabox sets have a proper swan song. Either way, this is certainly one just for fans and one I can't really recommend that highly. 1.5 stars, rounded up to 2 for progarchives sake. Long live the Crimson King.

Man With Hat | 2/5 |


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