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King Crimson THRaKaTTaK album cover
2.77 | 231 ratings | 20 reviews | 12% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Live, released in 1996

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. THRAK (2:20)
2. Fearless and Highly THRaKked (6:36)
3. Mother Hold the Candle Steady While I Shave the Chicken's Lip (11:19)
4. THRaKaTTaK Part I (3:42)
5. The Slaughter of the Innocents (8:04)
6. This Night Wounds Time (11:16)
7. THRaKaTTaK Part II (11:08)
8. THRAK Reprise (2:52)

Total Time 57:17

Line-up / Musicians

- Adrian Belew / guitar, vocals
- Bill Bruford / acoustic & electronic drums, percussion, marimba
- Robert Fripp / guitar, soundscapes
- Trey Gunn / Warr guitar
- Tony Levin / NS upright bass
- Pat Mastelotto / acoustic & electronic drums, percussion

Releases information

Discipline (Global Mobile) DGM-9604

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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KING CRIMSON THRaKaTTaK ratings distribution

(231 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(12%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(20%)
Good, but non-essential (33%)
Collectors/fans only (25%)
Poor. Only for completionists (10%)


Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Eetu Pellonpaa
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars The tracks of this CD have been recorded in different concerts, and the selections focus only to their free-form chaos-improvisations sprouting from the dissonant title composition. There are some good parts found from the searing flow of aural terrorism, but also lots of lousy wandering around. I think that it's harder to do a good improvisation with six players that with four, but I also feel here the aim of the band goes closer to self-purposeful abstractions in vein of Pat Metheny's "The Sign of Four". Luckily there's a warning sticker on the cover though, "Parental Advisory - weird music, your kids might get epilepsy from exposure" or something. No wonder Bruford and Levin bolted out from the band after this bad trip.
Review by fuxi

As the DEJA VROOOM DVD shows, King Crimson's 1995 live shows were riveting, and the relatively brief improvisations the band indulged in each night, between all those ethereal ballads, and all that carefully orchestrated Double Trio mayhem, provided moments of special tension.

But to rip six of such improvisations out of their context and paste them together end-to-end, as Mr Fripp does here, seems merely perverse. It also shows that, when left to their own devices, the Double Trio had little to say. Time after time you hear musicians repeat the same gestures. They never come up with anything remotely original or surprising. They utterly fail to move or excite the listener, who soon switches off.

Normally speaking I'm a sucker for Crimso improvisations. I love all those seemingly aimless bits on STARLESS AND BIBLE BLACK, RED and BEAT, and I also enjoy the GREAT DECEIVER box set. But THRAKATTAK, in my view, is one you'd better stay away from, unless you're after the (rather static) band poster that came inside the original cardboard sleeve. Sorry, Mr Fripp, not everything you touch automatically turns to gold.

Review by Slartibartfast
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam
2 stars This night wounds time? How about this album wounds ears?

I was browsing through the used store one day and ran across this one in the recently arrived bin and thought to myself, "Ooh, better get this one before someone else does." What can I say? If you can make it through this one you will likely feel your ears have been assaulted, so the album is aptly named.

I can't be too harsh a critic of Thrakattak, given that it is a bunch of separate improvs thrown together into one album. But I think it shows that crimprov is a creature that is best kept in it's natural habitat, er context. This certainly one primarily of interest to hard core Crimson fans. I keep it for it's novelty value.

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
2 stars For a band that was so revered in the seventies for it's live improvisations, it would seem that an album of improvs would be fantastic. But alas, for this album it is not so.

What is missing here is the interaction between the players. Wetton, Bruford, Cross and Fripp created amazing improvs, because they listened to each other, and played with each other. One musician would create a theme, and the other players would build on it, and take it to different places. Here, the double trio all seem to be noodling on their own. At a few moments, there seems to be some cohesion between the instruments, but those moments are too few and far between.

Actually, at times I enjoy using this album as background noise. And the synthesizer patches are very good (the beginning of one track sounds like Conlon Nancarrow's player piano). But that doesn't raise my rating.

Review by Sean Trane
2 stars Trying to sort off Crimson's short flurry of activity in the 90's, Thrak was the studio album, with Vrooom getting a preview release of the album proper. If B'Booom was the live album from that tour and that very tour can also be viewed with the Deja Vrooom or the recent releaser of Live In Japan95 or Live In Argentina 94 DVDs as well (WTF, Robert, can you be a bit constant with your titles??). This strange "beast" is a compilation of the improvs of those tours. And when one speaks of improvs, this is not at all the same kind that were present on Earthbound (Peoria, Groon) or USA (Asbury Park), or even meaner ones on the more recent The Nightwatch or Great Deceiver sets. Here most of these "tracks" are much more unstructured, chaotic, almost free-form and often present a certain "Kosmische" side like a Zeit-era Tangerine Dream or an Affenstunde-era Popol Vuh. The "double-trio formula" of the other releases of that Crimson era is not a factor here, as most of the six musos only add whatever notes they can, whenever they can, hoping for the best, but unfortunately, the best doesn't happen often or even sometimes. These near-free-form improvs are soporific at best and alienating at worst.

It was a strange bet to market it as mainstream such a weird "thing", because not only is it highly un-commercial (that's not a flaw in itself), but it is completely unstructured (or almost) and rather unrepresentative of the tours of that era (or any other Crimson era for that matter). I saw them twice in Brussels (in the spring and early summer 95), and I must say that I don't really remember whether there was that much improvisations during their shows, at least long and direction-less jams like on the present disc, but then again this album samples from concerts across the US & Japan in the fall of 95. Most likely, this crazy "thing" led to the ProjeCKts series, which are even more unstructured than this TA. For Crimson maniacs, only

Review by zravkapt
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "Warning!!! This recording contains explicit live instrumental improvisation and a poster". I no longer have the poster but the sticker with this warning is still on my copy. Believe it or not, this was my first Crimson purchase. I'm not going to lie to you, the only reason I bought it was because there was a song called "Mother Hold The Candle Steady While I Shave The Chicken's Lip". I thought any group with a song title like that must be good! I had only vaguely heard of KC before. This was their latest release at the time; the only other KC available in the stores near me was ITCOTKC.

This is a live instrumental album of improvisations performed by the Double Trio line-up on the Thrak tour. The crowd noises have been edited out(similar to the live songs on Starless And Bible Black). Speaking of SABB, one of the songs here is called "This Night Wounds Time", which is taken from the sleeve of SABB. This song and "Mother..." have my favourite two parts on the album, when the tom-tom is the main drum. You hear it once every few seconds. It just fits the mood of the rest of the instruments.

This album has lots of Warr guitar, Soundscapes, synthetic piano, electronic percussion and screaming guitars. There is even some marimba and brushes on the snare drum. The music here is some of the most out there that KC has ever done. Completely uncommercial. The sound is really good and the playing generally great. None of it is very memorable however. I always listen to this all the way through without skipping anything. Good but not essential. 3 stars.

Review by rushfan4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Where's the music???? I know that this is the kind of stuff prog fans seem to really like about King Crimson, but seriously, where's the music???? Once in a while they throw in some song structures, but mostly this is just a noise salad; random noises tossed together. And I suppose I tend to prefer cheese with my salads, and there is little of that to be found here. This live album consists mostly of improvisations recorded at various shows during their Thrak tour. Maybe in smaller doses included within a concert of actual songs, these might not have been so bad, but taken one after another after another, I could not wait for this album to end. Definitely a two-star effort for diehard fans of the band or the improvisation style.

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Those of you who say you love King Crimson will be put to the test on this album "THRaKaTTaK". This album is only a bunch of improvisations recorded in concert that were played during various performances of the song "Thrak". These are all experimental improvisations and they are all "glued" together to make one sometimes noisy and sometimes sublime, continuous performance. Only those with an ability to listen with an open mind and an ear to hear some pretty gnarly effects will get this. The album is not for the masses, that's for sure. But you do get to hear some really amazing improvisation that proves that the musicians involved here listened really close to each other and they all worked together to make some really phased out compositions right off the cuff.

The double-trio line-up for this tour that these tracks come from was pretty amazing. You have Robert Fripp (of course) doing his unique guitar work, creating sounds, effects and noises that sound like he is torturing his guitar, and Adrian Belew following suit on his own guitar. Fripp also connects it all together with swashes of mellotron that almost turn the entire thing into a soundtrack. Tony Levin and Trey Gunn have their own toys along for the ride with the Chapman Stick, the Warr guitar, fretless bass and upright bass. Then to top it all off, there is the dual drum kits of Bill Bruford and Pat Mastelotto. Quite a line-up for sure.

However, don't expect to hear any conventional tracks here, or even a variety of King Crimson style compositions, as these tracks are all instrumental, experimental, improvised live, and very avant-garde. This goes on for over 57 minutes, and there is no reprieve. If you come into this album with that in mind, you may just find yourself listening in awe at the crazy talent involved here. I understand that this is not for everybody, so let that serve as a warning. In fact, many KC fans will not like this, but those that understand the sound of the ProjeKcts and experimental improvisation that KC used, then you will get it. This is an amazing document to another side of the musicianship of the KC universe. Yes it is noisy at times, othertimes it is amazingly beautiful, and I understand that many people don't like this kind of music, but the only way to really appreciate it, is to go into it knowing what you are getting into, and then really listening to what is going on. If you still don't like it, then that's fine, but if you find you do like it, then you have just opened up yourself to a whole new universe of King Crimson music and you have a lot of ProjeKct material to investigate.

Review by Warthur
4 stars THRaKaTTaK is a divisive release among King Crimson fans, and there's good reason why it should be so. Rather than being a conventional release of studio renditions of existing compositions, or a live performance of songs and improvisations, THRaKaTTaK blends various improvisations performed in conjunction with THRAK (the instrumental) on the 1995 tour supporting THRAK (the album) into one long ambient piece. The overall effect is much like Frank Zappa's technique of xenochrony, or Neil Young's Arc album.

It's an experiment which would be repeated on the Schizoid Men disc of the Ladies of the Road live release, but I think it works somewhat better here. The trick is in not expecting anything resembling a conventional song structure, but accepting it as a sort of noisy, industrial-tinged ambient piece. Approach it like that, and you'll find it much easier to appreciate.

Latest members reviews

2 stars This can really get you out there...not. While touring as a 'double trio', Crimson played at least one improvisation every night of the tour. On this album, they assemble a bunch of these improvisations into an almost continuous free-floating piece. Fripp is mostly playing guitar-synth, not of th ... (read more)

Report this review (#1696044) | Posted by Walkscore | Wednesday, February 22, 2017 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Being a follower of King Crimson over the years but not an obsessive fan of the group, has made KC a hit or miss band in my CD collection. I loved the first 2 doom and gloom albums, and I still can remember being floored by Epitaph and In the Court from their maiden release. Another standout for m ... (read more)

Report this review (#270297) | Posted by tdfloyd | Sunday, March 7, 2010 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Mother Hold The Candle Steady While I Shave The Chicken`s Lip is one of the titles allotted to this collection of free-form improvs from the Crim`s `95 tour. I usually put this one in the deck when I want people to think I`m insane. Since the 1970`s improvs have been an integral part of Crimso ... (read more)

Report this review (#81282) | Posted by Vibrationbaby | Friday, June 16, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Hmmm... looking at the reviews here I decided to add my point of view - totally different as I see, if only for the balance. I have lots of very personal feelings for this album, but let's put it aside. I think this is one of the best albums by KC, and that means: one of the best all over the ... (read more)

Report this review (#69878) | Posted by kajetan | Saturday, February 18, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Well... 2 years ago, i had a "hot moment" with my girlfriend, with THRaKaTTaK like a background sound. Very, very weird, but fascinating! Atonal classic music likes me, and listen it in a rock language is one of my extasis in music. Simple words like "it's funny" are better for explain the disc t ... (read more)

Report this review (#66127) | Posted by | Sunday, January 22, 2006 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Okay, whaddya want? THRaKaTTaK is what it is -- a stitched-together compendium of improvs from a variety of shows, played in concert as improvs from the original "Thrak" instrumental, and here showcased between two different performances of the song. If you're expecting strong structure and po ... (read more)

Report this review (#59966) | Posted by Black Max | Saturday, December 10, 2005 | Review Permanlink

3 stars When I first heard about this cd i was thinking 'wow! 6 men from KC- improvising'. And yes.. It was very powerful line-up. VROOOM, THRAK - very strong, remarkable titles. KC was always a gig-group. Especially with its improvisations. So I bought a cd and push 'play'. THRAK- strong, concert vers ... (read more)

Report this review (#40509) | Posted by | Wednesday, July 27, 2005 | Review Permanlink

1 stars This is probably the most insulting record I have ever listened to in my life. I felt like Robert Fripp & co. decided that they would on purpose record the most insensate piece of music they could possibly conceive. I just feel them laughing at the backs of those like me that got the record, know ... (read more)

Report this review (#38464) | Posted by la Volpe | Monday, July 4, 2005 | Review Permanlink

2 stars I've never cared for the improv tracks on King Crimson albums. To me they always sounded like chaotic noise. This is an entire album of that. If "Starless and Bible Black" is your idea of the ultimate Crimson album, then you may like it. If "In the Court of the Crimson King" is your favor ... (read more)

Report this review (#15503) | Posted by | Thursday, April 28, 2005 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I would definately say that this cd is good, but I would also say it is non-essential. When they were on they were on. But alot of it was just boring improv. The one side of the poster that was included was cool but the other side sucked with the bucket that said fire on it. I would still buy ... (read more)

Report this review (#15499) | Posted by | Friday, June 25, 2004 | Review Permanlink

2 stars A collection of the 'improv' parts of their live shows on the Thrak tour. Despite many good moments, when put together this is tedious and noodly, made worse by the fact that they rarely get into any groove (sometimes they begin one but it falters, and they shift back into noodly, no time-signature ... (read more)

Report this review (#15494) | Posted by | Wednesday, February 4, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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