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King Crimson - The ConstruKction Of Light CD (album) cover


King Crimson


Eclectic Prog

3.14 | 772 ratings

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3 stars King Crimson have always done their absolute best work when they have both a stable lineup and a compelling musical vision to lend cohesiveness to the compositions. For their first phase (from In the Court... to Islands) they had the vision but not the stable lineup, so whilst the debut album was fabulous the next three were a little hit-and-miss - though thanks to the musical vision expressed they were always interesting.

Then you have the glorious mid-1970s phase, where the stable core of Wetton, Bruford and Fripp gave a bedrock of stability and the band pursued a new, raw musical direction which paid massive dividends. And, of course, after that you have the 1980s incarnation of the band, which held a rock-solid lineup for its three albums and once again had an intriguing musical direction to follow.

I guess this is why the post-THRAK reincarnation of the band has little interest for me, because it enjoys neither a stable lineup nor a particularly interesting or revolutionary musical direction. See, for instance, The ConstruKction of Light, recorded following the collapse of THRAK's double trio lineup. Songs like ProzaKc Blues and The World's My Oyster... seem to show a somewhat flippant approach to the album, almost as though the band themselves couldn't take the project seriously, and the tedious attempts at recycling old ideas from the band's heyday go nowhere.

At around this time Fripp was quite taken with the whole ProjeKct idea, which was an attempt to use the fluctuating and unstable lineups of Crimson as an advantage rather than a weakness, but to be honest I've never heard anything from the ProjeKcts that struck me as being more than a fun but unsatisfying diversion and it seems with ConstruKction the core band itself wasn't exactly firing on all cylinders either.

It's a real shame, because I had respected Fripp's habit of breaking up King Crimson when there was no reason for it to exist and only resurrecting it when he felt that there was a particular need to take a Crimsonian approach to an album. The ConstruKction of Light stands as proof that this approach, by 2000, was long-dead: it's King Crimson existing and plodding on simply for the sake of being King Crimson, without any consideration of whether there's any need for King Crimson right now.

EDIT: Since I wrote the above review the story of The ConstruKction of Light has taken a new turn, with the album being rereleased as The ReconstruKction of Light in a new version (also found on the Heaven & Earth boxed set).

Even Robert Fripp himself has been quite down on The ConstruKction of Light's original release, recorded as it was without the customary refinement of the material on the road. It's no surprise, then, that with this reissue of the album that he's been more interventionist than usual with the mix and mastering, perhaps trying to adjust the studio versions in light of subsequent lessons learned live.

On top of that, because some of the original session recordings were lost, Pat Mastelotto ended up rerecording the drum parts. Usually, I look askance when artists do this sort of thing, but this is a special case. For one thing, at least it's Pat rerecording Pat's parts, so it's not an act of disrespect towards the original performers on the level of, say, Ozzy Osbourne redoing the drum parts on some CD versions of his early solo albums with a different drummer. For another, it gives Pat a chance to rerecord the material using his customary hybrid acoustic/electronic drums, and with the experience of playing the pieces live.

In other words, short of the entire lineup from this era reuniting to rerecord the album all over again (or assembling an alternate take of the album from live recordings, as Fripp has apparently considered doing), The ReconstruKction of Light is about as close to a "do-over" of The ConstruKction of Light as we are likely to get. The end result is pretty good, with Pat behind the drumstool and Don Gunn behind the mixing desk performing a heroic rescue of the album. Let's say the ReconstruKction's worthy of three and a half stars, whilst the original ConstruKction was more of a 2-star number.

Warthur | 3/5 |


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