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King Crimson - In The Wake Of Poseidon CD (album) cover

IN THE WAKE OF POSEIDON

King Crimson

 

Eclectic Prog

3.83 | 2040 ratings

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Xonty
5 stars Whilst King Crimson's 2nd release "In The Wake Of Poseidon" will always be surpassed by the phenomenal, ground-breaking "In The Court Of The Crimson King", it is still worthy of a 5 star rating for me. Previously, their debut was my favourite prog rock album (even above Trespass!) but recently I've gone off of it, and find myself enjoying albums like this one much more. Despite the format on this album being practically identical to ITCOTCK, making it less risky and therefore less prog, the music on here is undeniably fantastic. While it does lack the driving soul from the debut, it feels much more intricate, layered, and even complete. Furthermore, the cover artwork and remarkable Sinfield lyrics go hand in hand with the feel of the album. The consistency of the album is also outstanding, except for Moonchild 2.0, a.k.a "The Devil's Triangle". With the exclusion of this song, "In The Wake Of Poseidon" would be another definite King Crimson classic for me, but even with it, it just about skims the 5-star rating.

"Peace - A Beginning" introduces the album almost silently with Lake whispering words of wisdom, immediately making the record more personal and esoteric, as it can only really be listened to in a quiet, isolated room to achieve the full beauty of it. The concept of the "Peace" theme is a little irrelevant but also strangely intriguing, and seems to make you concentrate more. Even Fripp's singular notes keep you hooked by some mystical aura, until you get blasted away by the astronomical entrance of "Pictures Of A City"! Possibly, the heaviest bluesy song King Crimson ever did, and I'm loving the jazzy sax riffs. I owe this song for introducing me slowly but surely into the world of jazz rock - absolutely love it. Obviously, it comes from the same mould of "Schizoid Man" but something else is thrown into the mix, making it just as irresistible, but in a slightly newer, more mature light. The grinding vocals, slippery bass lines, rigid saxophone harmonies, Fripp's wailing guitars, and of course Mike Giles' bloated drum sounds all interlock beautifully on here. There is such a powerful wall of sound that penetrates right through your ears.

The song follows a fairly standard format, but transforms into a freer section at around 3 minutes with Fripp's screeching, echoing bends and sumptuous dissonant harmonies. It soon picks up the pace again, showing off the band's talents even more (possibly even better than "Schizoid Man"). There seems to be a real smorgasbord of post-psychedelic colours in there, all arranged in a uniquely weighted jazz-rock sound. Possibly, the highlight of the entire album enters at 4 minutes, with Fripp's guitars thrown around the place, with some unbelievable, unexpected chromatic descents teamed with various other devices and a constant sliding rhythm. Just when you think it couldn't get any better! Anyway, after a similarly impressive stop-start passage as heard on the debut, the song retreats to a gentler mood, with a bass line that later reappears on "Lizard", with some soothing cymbals and pulsing guitar notes, almost as delicate as harmonics. A wonderful short break to the organised chaos, but still somehow displaying Greg's, Mike's, and Robert's mastery of their instruments. The track builds back into the well-constructed verse from earlier, and ties the whole thing together brilliantly, ending in another delirium that only King Crimson can seem to pull off.

"Cadence And Cascade" subtly enters (I'll refrain myself from any more obvious comparisons) with a crisp and beautiful acoustic ballad. With the addition of Sinfield's excellently fitting lyrics and Haskell's husky vocals. All of the instruments complement each other so airily, leaving space for you to breath but definitely not get bored. The piano from Tippett also gives another rich, melting tone to the song. The drums don't get in the way at all, but keep the song floating somehow, despite the sounds emanating from the kit being similar to some of KC's more violent works. When the eccentric flute solo enters, the piece just becomes almost quixotic, romantic, and heavenly. Honestly, appears to be a perfect track with all of these factors in mind - a very flowing but clearly thought out structure, and not too overplayed. To me, "Cadence And Cascade" is the pinnacle of the gentle side of the band's repertoire, and presents their multiple styles confidently.

"In The Wake Of Poseidon" is much more symphonic and mellotron-central than anything else on the album, but I'm not completely astounded by the grandiose journey it takes you on. Perhaps a step too far, but I'm not sure in which direction. By all standards, I should love it because of those lavish chord progressions and melodies along with extravagant lyrics and insturmental outbursts. Perhaps it's a little too outstretched because I do still very much enjoy it but I'm not as gripped as other tracks anymore. Nevertheless, with my personal attachments aside, this track is more than listenable and essential to the album. A sort of combination of "Epitaph" and "The Court Of The Crimson King" with some fresh flecks of music tossed into the mix. Once again, Fripp's haunting acoustic guitar (beside Greg's oozing emotions in both vocal performance and strains to reach the summit of his touching melodies) adds something indescribable and almost otherworldly to the song, taking it up to a 5-star song.

"Peace - A Theme" is another simple but effective interlude on the album, reprises "Peace - A Beginning" with a superb solo guitar arrangement for Lake's initial wispy melody. Comparable to some of Anthony Phillips' solo works, and even a little Serge Fiori from Harmonium. Nothing astonishing or beautiful, just pleasurable to indulge into. "Cat Food" then interrupts the tranquil acoustics with a harsh Keith Tippett intro. Always makes me smile, especially on those strangely judicious clashes which I always picture as a cat running across the keys. One of Keith's best parts in my opinion, and a great taster of what's to come on "Lizard". I'm not too fond of Greg's vocals on this track on the whole. The melodies and even some of the lyrics, dare I say, are somewhat mediocre, but the distortion, sudden laugh, and lyrics add a lot of personality to the song. Without these, it would just feel like a "progressified" Come Together. On the first listen, I never really enjoyed it, but over time I've more than accepted the musicianship. A very watery eccentric feel, if that makes any sense? Some absolute ingenious sections and passages teamed with the familiar melodies weirdly slots together. Every musician is once again on the top of their game, so another 5-star track!

"The Devil's Triangle". Hmm. After about a minute of silence, the piece seems to introduce an early rendition of the outro to "Lizard" ("Big Top" I think it's called). There are some devious, overpowering melodies resonating from the strings, as the drums keep a beat that's too steady. Something needs to fill out the air a little more, because it's letting you breath too much. I can see that they would want you to explore your thoughts and interpret the sounds, if you get what I mean, but that's quite a task straight after "Cat Food" is essentially served up to you on a plate. Not really what I was expecting, but there are some special moments from mainly Tippett (not so much Fripp on here) as the piece builds more and more chaotic. The ticking sound is certainly thought-provoking, but still seems to lack meaning. The harmonies then are quite scattered and a little demented, but not in a good way, more frustrated and tasteless, plastered over with colourful melodies to give a good impression. The random reappearance of the debut's title track (and practically the last minute or 2) is pretty unnecessary. Still worth a place on the album. "Peace - An End" brings back those all too distant memories of the first song and ties it together to much, if that somehow makes sense. Extremely beautiful though, with Greg's double tracked lyrics and Robert's playing. It's all too easy to create an album with a simple melody to end and to start with, but as a human, I can't refuse being touched by it.

A: Often forgotten by passing rock admirers, and overshadowed by a notably inspirational debut, but such a treasured little musical artefact of mine.

Peace - A Beginning: **** Pictures Of A City: ***** Cadence And Cascade: ***** In The Wake Of Poseidon: ***** Peace - A Theme: **** Cat Food: ***** The Devil's Triangle: *** Peace - An End: ****

Xonty | 5/5 |

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