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King Crimson: Thrak

Album Reviews:

Rolling Stone (6/29/95, p.43) - 3 Stars - Good - "...With THRAK, King Crimson have re-emerged from the interregnum with their passionate virtuosity grayed but not gone..."

Q (5/95, pp.102-104) - 4 Stars - Excellent - "...THRAK expands the quartet's inventiveness with jazz-scented rock structures, characterised by noisy, angular, exquisite (gizmo-drenched) guitar interplay over an athletic, ever-inventive rhythm section."

Uncut (10/02, p.107) - 4 stars out of 5 - "...a swaggeringly triumphant testament..."

Option (7-8/95, p.114) - "...The sonic results are perfect; one gets a historic feel for the genre, yet it never sounds nostalgic or merely eclectic..."

Musician (6/95, pp.69-70) - "...brainiac rock for those with strange urgings at other points in the body....THRAK is full of prickly textures, clench-fisted chords delivered with Glenn Branca-esque intensity, and tough attitudes more than prissy prog-rock notions..."

Album Notes

King Crimson: Adrian Belew (vocals, guitar); Robert Fripp (guitar, Mellotron, sound effects); Trey Gunn (Chapman stick, background vocals); Tony Levin (acoustic & electric basses, background vocals); Pat Mastelotto, Bill Bruford (percussion).

Recorded at Real World Recording Studios, Box, England from October 24 to December 4, 1994.

For guitarist-composer Robert Fripp, the visceral power of rock music has always been an inspiration. And since forming King Crimson in the late '60s, few instrumentalists have done more to extend the sonic range of the electric guitar or rock song structure than Robert Fripp. But the guitarist also counts world rhythm musics, 20th Century classical composition, modern jazz and contemporary electronics among his many interests. And with THRAK, Fripp and King Crimson have created their most compelling synthesis of art and noise, a thrashing suite made up of contrasting, interconnected motifs. This groaning beast of an album is fabricated from the roiling roar of dissonance and classic power riffs and animated by a complex series of rhythm changes, opulent lyric contrasts, heady contrapuntal interplay and stunning solo flights.

In rethinking his concept of King Crimson, Fripp has reconstituted the band as a double trio, in which Fripp teams with Stick virtuoso Trey Gunn and drummer Pat Mastelotto, while lead vocalist-guitarist Adrian Belew answers back with bassist Tony Levin and electronic percussion innovator Bill Bruford. Together they achieve a rare blend of intuitive power and formal design, from the classic King Crimson rumble of "Vrooom" to the menacing variations of "Dinosaur," on which Belew's Lennonesque vocal echoes Fripp's pride in having avoided extinction, as the band exhumes the bones of the Beatles, Hendrix, Bartok and the late Romantics from their fossil digs.

But THRAK offers a wide range of textures and moods. With its bell-like arpeggios and flute-like ornaments, the ragaish "Walking On Air" is as lovely a ballad as Crimson has ever produced. "B'Boom" finds the drummers in an electro-acoustic dialogue, meshing haunting urban-industrial sounds into a ritualistic percussive web of African-styled polyrhythms. The crashing rhythmic cycles of the title tune are an avuncular nod to today's meanderings of noise, while the funky "People" and dreamy "One Time" present song structures ready-made for progressive college programmers. THRAK is a diverse, dynamic, polished recital.


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