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King Crimson - Jakszyk, Fripp and Collins: A Scarcity of Miracles CD (album) cover

JAKSZYK, FRIPP AND COLLINS: A SCARCITY OF MIRACLES

King Crimson

 

Eclectic Prog

3.59 | 544 ratings

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Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
4 stars 'A Scarcity Of Miracles' - Jakszyk, Fripp & Collins (8/10)

Although the profusely verbose and imaginative band name Jakszyk, Fripp & Collins is being used to describe the collaboration between these musicians, for all intents and purposes; this is the latest contribution to the saga of King Crimson, and has been anticipated as such by fans. As one of the most innovative bands in rock music history, King Crimson are considered one of the big landmarks of prog, although guitarist Robert Fripp has really only been the only constant member of the band. That being said, King Crimson has been one of the few projects I know of that has been around for so long, and yet continues to take new directions in the music. 'A Scarcity Of Miracles' is the latest development of Fripp's search for fresh sounds, and while the innovator's age might be showing in the sheer mellowness of the music here, Fripp and his fellow musicians have created an album that continues the story of King Crimson well, although the record is less immediate than I would have first expected.

In 2003, King Crimson left off at an abrasive and experimental form of metal in 'The Power To Believe'; showing no signs that Fripp was beginning to let up his relentless pace. That was my first experience with the music of King Crimson, and to date; one of my favourite albums from the band over the course of their career. 'A Scarcity Of Miracles' therefore met much more anticipation from me than the typical, most often disappointing comeback albums would normally get. I had no idea where the collaboration of Jakszyk, Fripp & Collins would take them, and especially after a metal album almost a decade ago, I was somewhat surprised to hear just how mellow that 'A Scarcity Of Miracles' really is. There is still vitality to the sound of King Crimson, but the passion is much more subtle this time around, leaving large room open for ambiance, as well as subtle nuances that the musicians have been careful to include. While there is songwriting at work here, the tracks do not necessarily have catchy hooks to latch onto, or even much apparent structure at first. Of course, things are not so simple with King Crimson, and while the music may be a little too mellow at first to pay much attention, each repeated spin brings something new to light.

Maybe the most striking and standout sound to 'A Scarcity Of Miracles' is the piercing saxophone work of Mel Collins, and this is what really took me a while to warm up to the music here. At first, his short noodles over the otherwise guitar and atmosphere-based music sounded somewhat out of place; there where parts here where I honestly felt like I could be listening to a record by Kenny G at his most melancholic, rather than new output by one of the most innovative prog rock bands of all time. Although there still seems to be a little too much room given to Collins for his chippy, albeit tasteful sax playing, it is the most energetic and vital aspect of the sound here, and helps to give a little extra caffeine to an album that lacks some upfront attitude to it. An exception to the futuristic, atmospheric sadness of the album is the fourth track, 'The Other Man', which feels like the high point of the album. Although fairly brief when compared to the rest of the drawn out soundscapes and slower songwriting that 'A Scarcity Of Miracles' has to offer, it shows a fall back to a more familiar sound by King Crimson, with Fripp's schizophrenic guitar sensibilities, greater sense of direction and added dynamic from the band. 'The Other Man' was my rosetta stone for the album, and struck me at first listen, when the other songs took quite a bit longer to grow.

While this is a new sound for the King Crimson project, 'A Scarcity Of Miracles' may tend to be a little one-tracked. Especially when a listener first begins their journey with the album, the whole thing can feel a little too one-tracked, with the somewhat eerie soundscapes, mellow vocals, and always-prominent saxophone work jumping up at virtually every given instance. However, after several listens, 'A Scarcity Of Miracles' makes itself to be much more than it first was; while still not as miraculous as the band's masterpieces, this new incarnation of King Crimson has some fantastic things to offer, including a wealth of details, and an experience that only gradually dawns on the listener, rather than giving it all up at once.

Conor Fynes | 4/5 |

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