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King Crimson - Jakszyk, Fripp and Collins: A Scarcity of Miracles CD (album) cover


King Crimson


Eclectic Prog

3.54 | 604 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars For those who found the last two King Crimson albums, like me, a mess of utter noise, lack of direction, and, frankly, dire cacophonies, there was a little bit of trepidation when it was announced that this album was being prepared. What direction would Fripp take? Would it be a repeat of a formula that had well and truly gone past its sell by date, or would it herald something new and exciting?

Well, thankfully the latter is the case here. From what seemed to be a set of jamming sessions, a new and exciting phase in the history of what is one of the pre-eminent prog bands has been born, for, be under no illusions, with this lineup, it is a true Crimson ProjecKt.

My first proper listen of the album was when the You Tube video for the title track was posted on this site. I actually like the video (I know many don't), but one thing was unmistakeable - the quality of the music, playing, and production. It is a gorgeous track, starting off in the fashion of Fripp's many more ambient and experimental works, before morphing into a lilting, jazzy, and quite superb main section.

Mel Collins takes you back donkey's years, and his jazz bursts throughout the album on sax are a joy to behold. The rhythm section is stunning throughout, although with the names Levin and Harrison that should not altogether be a surprise. The twin guitars and soundscape work on keys by Jakszyk and Fripp complement each other very well, and at times some of this reminds me very strongly of the work Fripp did with Brian Eno, no small compliment, of course.

Naturally, Fripp is extremely distinctive, and this is easily the finest work on guitar he has put his name to in many a year, simply because the nature of the songs allows him to be heard again.

The most pleasant surprise, though, is Jakko Jakszyk. I vaguely remember him from English pop/jazz combo Level 42, who had a measure of success in the 1980's, but it was never really my "cup of tea". Similarly, I knew he had formed the Crimson tribute band, 21st Century Schizoid Band, with MacDonald and others, but they never really entered my radar, as I don't, as a rule, like tribute bands. Well, I am happy to announce that I was wrong. This man was born to create this type of music; intelligent, jazz influenced, rock. He has a lovely voice, which utterly sits alongside the masters he performs with as an equal. His vocal performance on The Price We Pay is one of the finest I have heard in many a year.

The first five tracks are a sheer pleasure to listen to, and if the album had stopped here, it would have come close to five star status. However, by The Other Man, the attention begins to wander a bit, until midway, it is rescued by a great riff and change of pace. The album closer, The Light Of Day, is, at nine minutes, easily four minutes too long, and you do, by this time, wish dearly for a change of tempo.

However, in the scheme of things, these are pretty minor quibbles, and if, as I hope, this album is the start of a long term collaboration, then I for one will be overjoyed. A series of albums and a tour are what I wish for here!

This album is easily the most commercial and accessible work Fripp has been associated with for many years, and I think this is both deliberate and as a direct result of Jakszyk's involvement. The man is a breath of fresh air after the last Crimson lineup ran out of ideas and direction.

Four stars for this, one of the finest releases of 2011, and I really hope a solid marker for future releases.

lazland | 4/5 |


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