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King Crimson - Discipline CD (album) cover

DISCIPLINE

King Crimson

 

Eclectic Prog

4.10 | 1293 ratings

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The T
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars I think of this album as a completely pointless exercise in experimenting how many different arpeggios and guitar ostinatos can you create, how long are you able to keep on repeating them and how boring can your music get because of that.

Yes, after the brilliant, often masterful Wetton-era-Crimson's releases, Fripp decided to resurrect the legendary band that prog created, but only in name, because this 1981 record has nothing in common with the 70's releases by a band that, incidentally, had the same name and same guitar player. Even less has this album in common with the 1969 original masterpiece, In the Court of The Crimson King. If you love that release and all the other Crimson albums until Red, and you want to buy something that will sound remotely close to that, then you better stay away from Discipline, lest you get extremely dissapointed.

The music here is, as I said, pointless rhythmical experimentation, or attempt at one if we tell the truth. Picture something close to Gordian Knot (if you have yet to discover the classics but know some of the contemporary prog-bands) but a few steps DOWN the ladder. Every, every song in this album follows a similar pattern: the guitars (yes, there are two guitars in this Crimson) start playing arpeggios, riffs, ostinatos, under which the bass (stick) plays a monotone yet still jazzy harmony, and the drums play precise, over- calculated rhythms with almost no use of cymbals and a unique use of fills (no accent fills, no building-up fills, you'll only find fills where the notes in the bass and guitars allow for that). Over all of these, the vocal melody (melody?), usually a bland, linear, arrogant- sounding voice.

The pattern I described is not a bad thing per se. The problem arises when it's used till death as in this album: for the sake of experimentation, Fripp decided that every song would be an essay in repetition, a textbook on how to repeat a musical idea till is devoid of any interesting features. Songs have almost no variation here: they start with the guitars (or stick), the drums make their entrance, and then what we hear at this point is exactly what we'll be hearing in 3 or 4 minutes, when the song ends (no long songs here by the way). No choruses, no diverse sections, no change, no dynamics, no melody, no nothing. Hence my point: this is pointless (pun intended).

To say a word about the musicians, they are, off course, top-of-the-line... I mean, what else can you expect from the likes of Fripp, Brufford and Levin? Excatly: MUCH MORE THAN THIS. But, on the other side, you get what you asked for: dazzling guitar harmonies? You got them; incredible drumming? got that; amazing bass-playing skills? check... the only thing missing is making all those elements produce MUSIC, not only senseless jamming. Add to that the emotion-less vocals, produced by what sounds like an android with no feelings, and you got pretty COLD music.

About each song? All are very similar, let's just point out two that stand out (or low I would say): Matte Kudasai, the "ballad", a slow track that at times resembles an actual song but, because of the heartless singing, it's just more of the same rhythmic jamming, only slower; the other that stands out (for all the wrong reasons in this case) is Thela Gun Ginjeet: an atrocious song with non-english, pretensious oriental lyrics which takes the repetition problem to new levels: not only is the music repetitive, but now we have annoying unintelligible words as well! Awful... From the others, I would pick Elephant Talk as the most listenable of the crop, and Frame by Frame as the most "melodic" one, if one can call such blood-less music melodic.

Now don't get me wrong, the album has some things going for it: the textures are really interesting (the guitar harmonies are great), the playing is top-notch, and the experimentation itself is something worthy of a look... if only to look away in dismay after getting bored with the OVER-experimentation. Too much innovation could be a bad thing. Could it? Well, I would never have said so before listening to Discipline, but after... I don't know. The problem is, at the end, the repetition, the boring, annoying repetition. And even above that one: the lack of EMOTION. I can say, without risk of being contradicted, that this was the first "MATH" album ever, or one of the first. It's so precise, so scientific, so heartless, so cold, so boring. (note: I don't agree with calling a musical genre "math", for it states that music can be exact like a science, without emotion... but again, this album almost makes me agree with such a horrible term...) And for those that may say this sounds like it influenced Tool: yes, maybe it did. But Tool have power, anger, angst, stress, EMOTIONS... this has none.

I'm all for change in music, I'm all for bands trying to create new sounds and exploring new territories, I'm all for PROGRESSION. Did I expect another Court of the Crimson King? No I didn't. Did I expect Red Part II or Lark's Tongues in Aspic: Revenge? No, I didn't.

Did I expect good music? Did I expect music with at least the minimum amount of emotion? Yes I did.

Did I get it? NO I DIDN'T.

Maybe I can learn to like this. It's very likely that I will.

Hey, I learned math at school. And believe me, that was so much warmer than this.

The T | 2/5 |

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