In 1984 after the release of their tenth studio album, Three of a Perfect Pair the band finished their tour at Montreal’s Le Spectrum as the resurrection of King Crimson was no more as they went separate ways. Cut to six years later of the second half when Robert Fripp decided to bring the band together again. But done in the style of a “double trio”. This time containing two guitarists, two bassists, and two drummers.
That and the release of their eleventh album released 22 years ago entitled. Originally released on the Virgin label and reissued by Panegyric, this was Crimson at their best. Alongside Adrian, Robert, Bill, and Tony, they brought Pat Mastelotto (Naked Truth, Stick Men) on Percussion, and Trey Gunn on Stick and Warr Guitar. Recorded at Peter Gabriel’s Studio, Real World, the band decided to go into a new sound previous from their ‘80s-era.
While Steven Wilson has done the previous Crimson albums from the sole self-titled debut to Three of a Perfect Pair, Jakko brings the clearness and vibration into this mix. It’s feels like a breath of fresh air from the textures and bringing it to life. During the making of this album, they brought back the Mellotron which was used during In The Court of the Crimson King back in 1969.
The two-parter, Inner Garden is a dooming yet dystopian ghostly composition as if Crimson were doing a different version of Black Sabbath’s Planet Caravan. Adrian’s stirring vocals as he sings “So many things have come undone/Like the leaves on the ground/And suddenly she begins to cry/But she doesn’t know why.” You can imagine the sadness and eerie Twilight Zone-scenery of the memories that was once found, now in peril.
VROOM starts with this ‘50s landscaping view of the future thanks to the Mellotron before a burst of an eruptive roar from Fripp’s guitar kicks the door down with a hardcore punch. The double trio get down to business with a beast-like sound and spooky midsections of Belew, Fripp and Levin creating the magic of opening up the doors to see what lies ahead.
Dinosaur is still a powerful composition. Not just because it kicks ass, but the melody and story structure of searching through the bad judgments and mistakes of what this person went through after being dead for many, many years. The song nails it as Belew sings through of what happened before going into the afterlife of being your own worst enemy.
Things go smooth as it delves into the styles of In The Wake of Poseidon-era as Fripp takes higher levels into the beauty and clean melodies with some backward moments of a jazz groove for a romantic beauty of Walking on Air while the nightmarish synths go into a musique-concrete nightmare as Bill and Pat do a drum duel between each other in combat on B’Boom.
They go bit by bit and crunch by crunch on the drumming as the patterns go from high and low places with slow and fast tempos as the beast is unleashed out of its cage to reign terror on the title-track. The guitars are in a fast mode and various frets while the double drums and keyboard sounds make you wonder where they will go next with some climatic boundaries between rhythm and virtuosity musicianship. And it’s a situation to be away from the Beast can be a tricky situation. All of a sudden, King Crimson lay down the funk touches a-la Red and Ladies of the Road style.
With Sex Sleep Eat Drink Dream, Adrian goes from a calming vocals into a shrieking nightmare through the leslie speakers as the band move into the mode of a haywire effect. When I say haywire effect, it delves with a chaotic moment that the instruments are in a full-scale assault then back into the bluesy-funk metallic punch. Don’t forget that Mellotron that appears a quick second in the last minute of the composition.
It comes back again with that lullaby sound as I call it the ‘50s sound of the future and then you can imagine a reprise of the opening instrumental. But this time roaring to the end with VROOM VROOM. Just when you think it’s over, guess again. It’s not. The double trio close it off with a gigantic bang and then with the coda it’s into this climbing terror a-la The Devil’s Triangle: Part III.
The 40th anniversary series in which I got as a post-Christmas/Hanukkah gift last year, is the CD/DVD release. The 16-page booklet contains sleeve notes by Sid Smith, an introduction about the group coming back together by Robert Fripp 20 years ago at DGM (Discipline Global Mobile) World Central, and pictures of the making of the album, including a performance in Buenos Aires at the Prix D’Ami Disco and concert tickets from Argentina before working on the album.
Along with a CD single of Sex Sleep Eat Dream and the Ampex tape of VROOM VROOM. The DVD contains the 5.1 mix and the original stereo mix for it’s 30th anniversary back in 2002. Now for the die-hard Crimson fan, you might want to save some money for the THRAK box set containing 12 CDs, 1 DVD, 1 DVD-Audio, and 2 Blu-Ray discs.
This is Crimson at their best to show they were back and in action and delivering an eruptive return back in the ‘90s. For me, it’s been one of my favorite albums and I’ve always wanted to check this out since I was in High School. And 15 years later, listening to this I always enjoy both the original and new mixes. Worth checking out!