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King Crimson - Beat CD (album) cover


King Crimson


Eclectic Prog

3.08 | 1213 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars One of the few low points in the Crimson King of Prog's career, "Beat" isn't really a disastrous item despite lacking the majesty and peculiar genius of the band's best works. And the set of the best works includes the preceding album, "Discipline", so "Beat" didn't need to be the manifestation of irregular musical inspiration that it turned out to be in the middle of an era of decay. No, KC wasn't undergoing a decaying phase. It's just that the fresh air that Belew had brought with him were too dominant to allow the challenging scheme so successfully portrayed on "Discipline" to keep on evolving into the new art-rock territories that KC was set to explore. Talking heads was a major reference in Belew's writing, and so the first two tracks show was would have been some of the best songs ever penned by David Byrne, only that they came to be some of the most mediocre KC songs ever. Even though KC had managed to avoid the pop trappings of other illustrious contemporaries (the pathetic art-pop of a Genesis turned into some sort of Ultravox wannabe, the artsy AOR of Rabin-era Yes, the plain AOR of Asia and The Moody Blues, the inconsistent refurbishment of Camel as a mere extension of Latimer), these tracks are definite samples of KC is not and should not be about. The first instrumental 'Sartori in Tangier' finds the band partially returning to the ethnic-infected excursions that had worked so well in "Discipline" (only that the live versions set more ballsy expansions). The same happens with 'Waiting Man', the apex of the album's first half (again, the live renditions infinitely surpass this overall amazing studio version), a beautiful exercise on renewing the typical Crimsonian neurosis under a modernized Gamelan guise. Here's a reason not to hate electronic percussion as if they were something bad per se. Later on, 'The Howler' follows this ethnic- flavored art-rock approach with energy but without matching the exquisiteness of 'Waiting Man'. On the other hand, 'Neurotica' is pure rock magnificence KC-style, one of the heaviest tracks of 80s KC. The complex jamming and cleverly shifting tempos are managed with pristine skill through all the loudness. The ballad 'Two Hands' brings a beautiful moment of serenity (inc. a spine shivering guitar-synth solo in the middle), although the annoyingly patent Byrne-thing stops it from equaling the magic that had been created in what's arguably the definite Belew-era KC ballad, 'Matte Kudasai'. The album's instrumental closure is a portrait of Crimson's postmodernist ventures: Frippertronics layers, disturbing guitar leads wrapped in an eerie mood, a free-form jazz-inflicted rhythm work - all of it gathered together to bring an excellent ending to a not-so-excellent album. Very good, not really essential, this was the beat of the moment for Fripp & co., headlong for a follow-up album that would state a more cohesive repertoire... but that's a matter for another review.
Cesar Inca | 3/5 |


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