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King Crimson - Discipline CD (album) cover


King Crimson


Eclectic Prog

4.11 | 1843 ratings

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Anthony H.
Prog Reviewer
5 stars King Crimson: Discipline [1981]

Rating: 9/10

"These are words with a D this time..."

After 1974's Red, Fripp had thoroughly thrown in the towel with King Crimson. In fact, the band had been finished before that album was even released. After repeated interviews in which Fripp explicitly stated his lack of creative interest in the King Crimson name, I can't imagine that music fans during the mid-to-late 70s expected a reformation of the group. Needles to say, however, this reformation came; Fripp reconvened with Bill Bruford, recruited Zappa alumnus Adrian Belew and noteworthy bassist Tony Levin, and proceeded to revive a band many thought to be permanently dead. This revival came during the inception of the 1980s, and looking at what happened to other prog giants during this unholy decade, it was easy to assume that the same would happen to King Crimson. Joyfully, this turned out not to be the case; thus, Fripp holds the honor of being one of the few prog-rock maestros who remained artistically genuine throughout the musical climate of the 80s. This is what makes Discipline a remarkable album. The band was able to combine progressive music with emergent new-wave/post-punk sounds in order to make a musical statement that is both accessible and challenging.

The band's changed style is immediately apparent on the opener "Elephant Talk." This track is full of complex and theatrical guitar interplay coupled with Belew's manic vocals. The brilliant lyrics are quite witty and humorous, signaling a significant shift from the Sinfeld-penned verses of the past. Levin's bass work is given a chance to shine on "Frame By Frame", along with the more melodic side of Belew's voice. "Matte Kudasai" is a ballad-type track with some excellent slide-guitar and emotive vocals. The most excellent chunk of the album begins with "Indiscipline." This is a schizophrenic track, transitioning between variations on a sinister main riff and quiet passages focusing on Belew's frenzied spoken-word vocals. "Thela Hun Ginjeet" is probably the best post-70s King Crimson track. Bruford really shines here, and the main riff is absolutely brilliant. The vocals and spoken-word passages complement the manic music perfectly. "The Sheltering Sky" is a soft, ambient instrumental with hand-percussion and light guitar strumming. It's a pleasant track, but it lasts a bit too long for its own good. The superb title track closes the album with dizzyingly complex math-rock interplay.

Discipline undoubtedly marks a major stylistic shift for the band; Fripp didn't originally intend for this album to even be a King Crimson release. While I certainly do not believe that the Belew-era albums stack up to the band's 70s material, I cannot deny the engaging creativity present on albums such as this. I possess no particular affinity for new-wave music, but this quirky and progressive take on the genre always manages to hold my interest. Overall, Discipline is an excellent album from a band that was never comfortable with resting on its laurels. Works like this show that accessibility doesn't have to come at the expense of inspiration.

Anthony H. | 5/5 |


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