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I'm Chris. I'm 22 years old and I'm into a large variety of music, from Metal in its many forms (mostly the extreme ones) to Goth and Postpunk, Reggae, Jazz, Prog, Techno, Ambient and Film Scores. This is where I rave about albums I really like, and other stuff.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

King Crimson - Discipline

Album review: King Crimson - Discipline (E'G, 1981)
Prog/ Art Rock

"Discipline is never and end in itself, only a means to an end."

 Although it'd be far too easy, and not at all representative, I could easily sum up this album with just one sentence: "Tony Levin on bass". That alone should have you sold already, never mind the rest...and who are they? Robert Fripp on guitar? Adrian Belew on guitar/vocals? Bill Bruford on drums? That's quite a line up, definitely one for the musicians out there, and believe me these guys certainly do NOT mess around. "Discipline" is the first album of a radically re-invented King Crimson for the 1980s, shedding their 70s Prog trappings for a more concise, yet no less technically stunning approach. Indeed this is one of the few 80s Prog albums that doesn't succumb to the hit and miss "Prog Lite" style that bands like Genesis and Yes began purveying around the same time to mixed, sometimes thoroughly depressing results. There is a strong influence from the likes of Peter Gabriel and most notably, Talking Heads (singer Adrian Belew sounds comparable to David Byrne). A smart blend of Postpunk and Art Rock, cerebral yet catchy and with almost pop sensibilities? Sign me up.

Right from the opening of the first song, you should have an idea of what you're letting yourself in for, insanely dextrous and propulsive Stick playing from T. Levin and Bruford's equally impressive drumming, provide the groundwork for Belew's bizarre wailing guitar noises and jangly chords (JC120 + Polychorus = TONE!) and Fripp's otherworldly "Frippertronics" style of playing and standard (for him) fretboard arobatics, the two guitarists providing more than enough moments of frantic, interlocking madness across the album's seven tracks. The opening of "Frame By Frame" is perhaps the best example of this, listen and be duly stunned...and there really is some great songwriting going on here, to back up the obvious skill of the musicians. They slow things down a bit on the more ballad-like "Matte Kudasai" and the meandering psychedelia of "The Sheltering Sky". "Indiscipline" is a fractured stab of tension and paranoia, its title track counterpart being more bouncy and relaxed. The bizarre monologue going on during "Thela Hun Ginjeet"  ("What dangerous place? What gun? You're a policeman!"), apparently Adrian Belew's recounting of being mugged by Rastas on a field recording trip to Brixton, adds some humour to the brew of musical fireworks. Really, if this isn't one of THE ultimate albums of the early 1980s then I don't know what is. Remember, it *is* Prog so it is very technical and there is a lot going on, so "attentive listening" might be required to catch all the details and make sense of it all (it may also just need to grow on you over time). Otherwise it might come across as "too wierd", but what are you doing listening to KC, or music at all, if that's your attitude?

I own the 30th Anniversary Edition of this album from 2004, a 24 bit remaster done by Robert Fripp which sounds great, clear and not overly loud or compressed in the slightest. There's also a bonus track (an alternate version of "Matte Kudasai"). There is a more recent 2 disc edition (from the "40th Anniversary Series") which features more bonus tracks, different mixes and surround sound DVD audio. The original record already had killer production, so you can't go far wrong whichever one you pick.

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