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King Crimson - The ConstruKction of Light CD (album) cover


King Crimson


Eclectic Prog

3.16 | 864 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars The Destruction of Light and Shade

I've never been much of an audiophile as the production on a record very rarely impacts to any great degree on my enjoyment of any given release. However, the Construkction of Light might just be the one instance where my vandalised ears are less than well disposed to forgive such disruptive building work. This critter is wearying and exhausting to listen to in one sitting. Whether this is a case of over zealous compression or what sounds like the drummer chiselling his beats via Pro-Tools on a concrete kit is open to debate. A shame really, as the majority of material on this Crimson millennium issue is exemplary. We've all I'm sure been an unwilling party to those fidelity discussions with fellow progheads who exclaim

Yeah, but the 30th anniversary edition is 24 bit remastered in Dolby at double speed plus FIVE bonus tracks so you wont recognise it as the same album dude

You mean to the extent that the notes and the order they are played in changes?(and Caveat Emptor with 'previously unreleased' status folks, these freebies didn't see the light of day for good reason i.e. their creators usually thought they weren't worthy of release)

Prozakc Blues - The 'k' konceit indulged in at around this time irKs this Korrespondent to distraktion. Enough already. As the title indicates, we have a blues capsule, but one piloted by the crew of the red fiery brigade. As on Pictures of a City, Crimson manage to invest some primordial harmonic gravity with some unnerving weightlessness when they step outside the pressurised (wood) cabin of the idiom. Belew's vocal is pitch shifted downwards to authentic effect in imitation of a 21st Century Schizoid 'Leadbelly' on a visit to his long suffering Doctor:

Well I woke up this morning in a cloud of despair, I ran my hand across my head Pulled out a pile of worried hair.I went to my physician who was buried in his thoughts He said son, you've been reading too much Elephant Talk

There is more than a trace of genre parody and caustic bile in Adrian's delivery here and his swipe at a Crimson internet discussion forum, although seemingly churlish, is well founded (even a casual visit will confirm said appreciation society as a nest of infertile W.A.S.P.s with Conan the Librarian as moderator which makes PA look like a sanctuary of reasoned calm in comparison) The aforementioned 'concrete' percussion does not mercifully spoil this track, as the rather unfocused pounding sludge of the pulse is consistent with the blues effect intended. A great and funny song that should be played to blues purists everywhere as an example of why so much of their music is tantamount to a dusty museum piece roped off from the threat of innovation.

The Construkction of Light - Although ostensibly split into two parts the demarcation is frankly spurious as the whole she-boodle segues seamlessly into one whole. The accuracy demanded from the twin guitars of Fripp and Belew on this piece must be harrowing to negotiate as the compositional device of harmonised parts that appear to mimic a shifting temporal delay as the piece develops allow precisely zero margin for error. A similar albeit inferior effect could be conjured up via a digital delay set for the appropriate time division, but performing such feats 'manually' as they do so expertly here simply beggars belief. As dry and academic as that might sound, rest assured that like all Crimson's most challenging music, there is a hard-nosed beauty here that somehow conspires to be neither sentimental or cerebrally sterile. Belew's memorable and brilliantly executed lyrical section helps greatly in this regard by alleviating the daunting complexity with a more accessible hook:

And if a bird can speak, who once was a dinosaur and a dog can dream, should it be implausible that a man might supervise the construction of light?

(I said more accessible, not catchy all right?)

Into the Frying Pan - Can't seem to shake off the conviction that this startling song is inspired by the Beatles (as risible as that might first appear) as it strikes me as closely akin to one of the Fab Four's early pop ditties but with Crimson as the backing band and William Burroughs permitted to sit in the cut-up producer's chair? Beguiling and intriguing for sure as it threatens to collapse into incoherence at any given moment but miraculously still delivers its melodic bounty despite the insistent chaos clamouring at the gates.

FraKctured - There is a marked tendency in some previous reviews to propose that the Crims are vainly revisiting past glories on their adaptations of prior works? I think this judgement completely facile as evidenced by the verdant new pastures that such sacred cows are led to willingly or otherwise. For the most part the moto perpetuo of the original is preserved here but this fragile and feisty creature is mutated and burnished into a new shiny metallic biomechanoid as befitting a shape shifting replicant. (with big sharp pointy teeth to gobble you up with my dear)

The World's My Oyster Soup Kitchen Floor Wax Museum - A playful lyrical device yes, but we all dallied with our own crayoned version of the Surrealists Exquisite Corpse as kids (check out PA's very own 'Silly Story' thread for a narrative arrived at in this fashion) Perhaps the weakest of the conventional songs on Construkction of Light, but certainly not remotely shoddy or slapdash (despite the band's futile efforts in any failed realisation of a rehearsed spontaneity)

Larks' Tongues in Aspic, Part IV - Once again, Fripp and Co still display an endearing affection for demarcation as testimony to conceptual rigour. The discrete partitioning of the three sections is more a hindrance to clarity than an aid but we have in our now hot little lap 8 minutes of implacable, neurotic and downright cussing Crimson that for the most part, is on a par with any of their instrumental pieces of the past. It does drag a tad towards the end though and you are always grateful for the appearance of the album's tail-ender when it finally uncloaks itself from the retreating carnage overhead.

Coda: I Have A Dream - A very powerful and sincere song penned by Belew which catalogues some of the worst tragedies that have afflicted the modern age. I think the author has chosen wisely to avoid imparting his own conclusions here, as the nature of the destructive losses he itemises should relegate any whining liberal angst as superfluous to help the medicine go down. Kudos to Adrian for that restraint. There was an interesting acoustic version of this number available for free download from Belew's website. (Not sure if you can still get it?)

Heaven and Earth - The token bonus track that most of us would not move same for to ever hear again. My hopelessly prejudiced view relegates anything remotely 'ambient' as suitable only for the purposes of providing a soundtrack for a flotation tank. Like so much of the Projekcts output, we are expected to allow ourself to drift away to wherever this music takes us. Me?, I much prefer to surrender to the inevitable that gravity holds all the aces in this hole.

Under normal circumstances the Construkction of Light would warrant an unhesitating 4 sparklies from this habitually grudging rodent but for the reasons I alluded to in the introduction, cannot give anything other than three dwarf stars. Mastellotto is a very fine drummer with a portfolio that others who man the traps would kill for, but his kit sounds bear an uncanny semblance to those that would emanate from industrial strength Tupperware being bludgeoned into submission with iron bars. Similarly, the slinky and sinuous bass of Gunn and the guitars are smothered in a quick drying glue that robs the playing of what dynamic elasticity it may have possessed at the outset. However despite such provisos, please don't confuse the medium with the message as there is much fine music on this album that should be coaxed out of its dark hidey hole on a Fripp remastering job.

How about it Bob?

ExittheLemming | 3/5 |


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