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King Crimson - Three of a Perfect Pair CD (album) cover


King Crimson


Eclectic Prog

3.28 | 1202 ratings

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5 stars The original release of "Three of a Perfect Pair" is a masterpiece. The 30th Anniversary edition is even better, since the new tracks enhance and widen the perspective. This album was composed by four world-class musicians and it shows. The artists seem to play together with great pleasure and really enjoy exploring the limits of how to combine their talents. More than twenty years after the original release of this album, King Crimson is still the only progressive rock group that demonstrates so much imagination, innovation, superior taste, and wholly original talent in their work. There is nothing old here, every track is a gem.

The songs tell a tenuous tale about a couple coping with certain mental disorders, and suggests that one may have a dual personality; hence, the title "Three of a Perfect Pair". This raises lots of possibilities to explore in a relationship, though not likely to lead to much joy in real life. Or at least, one can say: for this pair each day may be a whole new surprise. Singing about mental disorders, is a potentially delicate matter; but Belew presents it in good taste. "Three of a Perfect Pair" is quite free with its use of some clinical terms, which might raise some confusion over schizophrenia. However, the lyrics can be appreciated without consulting an encyclopedia. On the other hand, begging excuses from medical professionals, some description might help. Schizophrenia is more of a delusional condition associated with hearing voices, etc. Cyclothymia is a mood disorder; a milder form of a bipolar condition typified by mood swings. The lyrics and music cover a spectrum: mood swings, hallucinations, hearing voices, disorientation and confusion, sleeplessness, sometimes hopeless other times manic feelings. The lyrics and music are a perfect mix for this subject. The album begins with the story, told in five songs and two instrumental passages. The mood, much like the couples frame of mind, deteriorates into "heavy-equipment," instrumentals that reinforce the shifting and uncertain musical atmosphere.

"Three of a Perfect Pair" introduces the predicament: two lovers, three personalities. The melody is perfectly suited for the subject, with a chorus that bears real pathos. "Model Man" picks up where "Three of a Perfect Pair" left off; it's almost an apology. The music transports you to, the perspective of the male partner having to deal with their situation. On the other hand, perhaps the roles are really the other way around. In any case, the melodies for both of these tunes are quite good. Belew seems to really pour himself out at just the right moments. "Sleepless" has a rhythmic and restrained mood. It describes the helplessness one must feel, suffering from Schizophrenia and being aware enough to describe ones own symptoms (probably not entirely uncommon). He aptly describes the confused feelings one can have, and the music just pulls you along into the darkness and disorientation. Here night-time hallucinations take over forcing a struggle to keep a grip on reality. "Man with an Open Heart" is about coping with the mental disorders of ones partner. It must be like being in love with a wild bird that just comes and goes all the time. The music empathizes with the cyclic confusion of the disease, and then sudden moments of clarity. An unimpaired partner in such a relationship must have to be completely accepting and ask for nothing in return. Any expectations must be doomed to disappointment. "Nuages (that which passes, passes like clouds)" is the passage to the other side of "Three of a Perfect Pair"; an interlude that is quite subdued and appropriately so. "Nuages" moves seamlessly into "Industry". Slowly, the peace gives way to the dark mechanical mood Levin and Bruford work at creating. The cyclic activity of the music is joined by brief assaults from guitar and percussion. "Dig Me" is The Crimson now in full avant-garde mode. This description of a decaying car could be taken as an allegory for the mental and physical decay that would inevitably consume someone loosing the battle against Schizophrenia. The chorus seems to be pleading with the higher powers for release from the prison created by the disease. "No Warning" returns to a mood that is really surreal; it sounds like the ramble and echoes of a disoriented and confused mind. "Larks' Tongues in Aspic, part III" is a welcome relief to the suppressed feelings, earlier. Bruford and Levin really outdo themselves here, while both guitars delicately pluck away before a relatively subdued rage (owing to hindsight) begins. Brutal and delicate sounds blend together so well, making a perfect end to the project.

The chapter on insanity ends here. The additional tracks on the second release begin with "The King Crimson Barber Shop"; a simple and witty bit of fun, confirming that they certainly don't take themselves too seriously. Then strap yourself in, turn on the ignition, grip the wheel, and slam your foot on the accelerator, once again! "Industrial Zone A" is just what it is labeled as, filled with random sounds from an unknown wasteland. "Industrial Zone B" takes the chaos to the next level. It is deliciously unrelenting in building tension and sonic complexity. "Sleepless" has a novel bass and percussion theme running though it that begs for experimentation. Here we have three different mixes of a great tune; the treat is that one finds several glimpses of Crimson's process through different team members take on the number.

One of King Crimson's greatest strengths is the fluidity of the collaboration. Every musician that Fripp has invited to work with him on this ever-evolving project, called King Crimson, has shown themselves to be outstanding professionals on their own; each unique in their background, style, musical perspective, imagination, and choice and mastery of instruments. Each vocalist and lyrical contribution to the Crimson brings a treasureable quality that is quite unique, as well; and only serves to enhance the value of the music. One important key to KC's success musically is each musician's willingness to experiment, invent, and explore & the collaborative spirit that each member brings to the group; that's what makes the result so much more than the simple combination of separate but synchronized performances. For "Three of a Perfect Pair": Get it! Listen and love it! Nothing more need be said.

convocation | 5/5 |


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