Review Summary: one of the best albums i've ever heard
Everytime I walk into a room it's there, the cold bleakness of everything around me. I don't remember when this feeling first started but it was somewhere between the start of high school and the end of my first year. I still remember the day in this period when I first heard Discipline
, King Crimson's first 80s album. I had been entranced with the dark setting of Red
, and the all-out avant-garde feel of Larks' Tongues in Aspic
so I felt it would be a good time to move out of the 70s, and into another decade. Upon first listen, I couldn't take Discipline
seriously. Where did all the sharp, trippy tunes go? They evolved, into a massive mess of bouncy, interlocking guitar lines and chapstick action. This was all too much for me, but then I came to my senses and realised: bands develop and grow, sometimes for the better, and sometimes for the worst. My other first impression was that the band was slowly conforming to the popular New Wave genre of the time, but no less, this is distinctly King Crimson.
Profilic session musician Tony Levin kicks off the album, with a crazy chapstick riff in "Elephant Talk", a perfect opener if there ever was one. Tony and Robert's parts collide with each other into one powerful force, accumulating into great chemistry between them. Adrian Belew's vocals and rhythm guitar lines add a sense of spontaneity to the band. While the other members are primarily musicians, he's definitely a bit of a showman and personality. Adrian's yelps of, "Talk, its only talk. Babble, burble, banter, bicker bicker bicker. Brouhaha, boulderdash, ballyhoo. Its only talk..." introduces a sense of eccentricity that is fields away from the serious nature of middle-70s King Crimson.
"Frame By Frame" is our first glimpse of sadness on the record; while the intro continues the story of "Elephant Talk", the song progresses into a dismal atmosphere that illustrates glances of hope. The lyrics don't seem to have any specific meaning, but there is a chance that they are completely interpretational due to their broad nature. The album trails along onto my personal favourite, "Matte Kudasai", a completely chilled-out nostalgic song. The instrumental backing here doesn't go off into virtuoso standards but contains itself to fit the mood of the song. This track also features some of the best vocals on the album. "Indiscipline" crawls along now, and while it's superb, it's certainly a lesser offering from the LP.
However KC don't disappoint and throw out their most erratic song with "Thela Hun Ginjeet" (an anagram for "Heat in the Jungle"). It's funky, spaced out and weirdly fun, but still has a strict King Crimson personality. Robert Fripp plays his guitar in 7/8 time while everything else plays in 4/4, eventually coming into syncopation with each other later. "The Sheltering Sky" shows Fripp and Belew feeding off each other perfectly. Robert Fripp's Frippertronics system is in full effect here with some of the most interesting rhythm guitar I've ever heard. "Discipline" also portrays this profound chemistry between two of the most thought-provoking guitarists ever and creates a flawless statement in minimalism.
's full-blown 80s sound isn't hard to recognise, especially when everything dabbles in chorus and other sounds that would sound dated coming from any other band. King Crimson made a vital progression with this album, instead of keeping with the same sound like so many of their progressive rock contemporaries. Robert Fripp's guitar lines have never been so refreshing while Tony Levin's chapstick device and Bill Bruford's expansive drum sound have all added another layer to King Crimson's ever growing domain. Red
may be more influential and sentimental, but Discipline
manages to better it in a lot of different ways. It's sad that In The Court of the Crimson King
is considered their best, because in reality, Discipline
betters it out by a wide margin. If you're looking for something that's on a complete different level than everything else, Discipline
just may interest you.