King Crimson
Three of a Perfect Pair


4.0
excellent

Review

by Kyle Banick USER (30 Reviews)
October 30th, 2006 | 45 replies | 11,767 views


Release Date: 1984 | Tracklist

Review Summary: An experimental and extraordinarly unique album that brings 80s contemporary influences into the mix, while also staying true to King Crimson's legacy of unforgiving vision. Still, unlike most King Crimson before it, it is not unwilling to have some fun.

7 of 7 thought this review was well written

Three of Perfect Pair is an ode to all things harmonious. On the cover, a nice, symmetrical pattern of complimentary yellows and blues, and on the back a track listing seemingly lacking the oft-perceived pretentiousness of fire witches and castles with evil entities dwelling in the court.

Now, anyone who has heard King Crimson’s preceding material from the late 60s and 70s would agree that harmonious is not exactly the word to describe the band. From the screeching saxophone and guitar jams of the Schizoid Man to Red’s sinister cry of dissonance to the disorienting metric modulations of Larks’ Tongues in Aspic, the tritone was the Crimson King’s best envoy, sent through the fingers of Robert Fripp to be paraded over backbeats of manic jazz and surreal string orchestras, shrieking violins and honky tonk pianos dancing around the augmented scale.

As King Crimson’s latest fades in on an airy enigmatic vocal chord, we’re prepared for the worst. Throw it all at us, everything you’ve got! We’ve seen it all before! We’re not scared of your violent outbursts, we’re no longer intimidated by your dissonant soundscapes, and all the shifting polyrhythms in the world could not throw us off balance. The march of lizards and demented brass cannot trample us. No twisted tales of schizophrenia can haunt is in our dreams anymore!

And then, a curveball. The rhythms don’t trip, but bounce. The guitars lock in to one another rather than teetering on the edge of falling apart, barely grasping onto a beat so unsteady that it could crumble at any moment. Molten lava does not flow out of the cracks of this…this…pop song? Our shrieks subside as frontman and guitar wizard Adrian Belew’s vocal hooks melt over us. What is going on here?

The following tune, Model Man might be an eighties new wave ballad if I didn’t know any better. Psh. It’s lovely, emotional, it bounces as if on the moon, it takes us away.

Still, something is not right. This is not Pat Benatar. We don’t feel young, we don’t feel strong. Something is wading in the undercurrents of this album. The guitars are stable, but they seem to create a web, interlocking into one another against the snakelike rhythms of Tony Levin’s Chapman stick. They’re trapping us in like a fly in a spider’s web. The groove is undeniable, but the harmonies of the two guitars are unsettling…they shouldn’t work but they do. This isn’t just your average pop tune, King Crimson is messing with us. Belew’s vocals are catchy, but troubling in the most uncertain way.

Nuages brings with it a shift. Building off a skeletal beat with electronic pads from Bruford’s arsenal and some Frippertronic (a delay system developed by Robert Fripp) noises, it gradually builds into a darkly ambient, floating piece with odd guitar solos from Belew. Rising in tension, it is an ominous foreshadowing that the best has passed…we’re in for a rough ride now.

Industry rolls in slowly. Frippertronics take center stage over a barreling low end from Levin and Bruford’s shifting rhythm. More modal experimentation, with outbursts from the rhythm section that seem uncertain, sudden, jarring. A distorted guitar fades in threateningly, moving inside and out of the pounding rhythms, now completely maniacal. The piece builds and builds, slowly, but soon all tentativeness is lost. It is marching right out of the speakers at us, coming for us. Soon even the guitars begin to hide in the shadow, screeching and sliding away from the madness.

Dig Me hearkens to days of yore, with a whacked out guitar rhythm and a rhythm section that sounds like it’s just struggling to keep up, with metric and modal shifts uncertainly off-center with one another, a disturbed vocal melody that swings in all the chaos, a song on the verge of falling apart completely.

Larks’ Tongues in Aspic Part III closes the album well, opening with frenetic Frippian guitar work and moving into an updated interpretation of the old theme from the classic 70s album of the same name, Bruford’s rhythms feel at home in this twisting instrumental, menacing in the right ways but more willing to have fun than the previous versions. More interlocking guitars create off-balance harmonies. Still, it’s just not quite as powerful as the 70s conceptions.

I’ve learned never to judge a book by its cover"nor by the first few pages, for that matter. Three of a Perfect Pair, while a far cry from the style of previous Crimson outings (after all, it does trade out the winds, mellotrons, and pianos for another guitarist), is nothing less than a beast of an album, filled to the brim with unorthodox experimentation that we expect from the Frankenstein that is King Crimson. At times we feel that the band is out of the members’ control, that they are merely puppets to the whim of the Crimson King entity"whoever or whatever it is. On the other hand, it is album that is not unwilling to open up and just have some fun"something Belew brought to the band, and in turn an exciting new energy that would propel King Crimson well into future generations.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Jom
Staff Reviewer
October 30th 2006



2595 Comments


Even though it says who writes the reviews on the frontpage now, I still would have guessed that it was you and your incessant King Crimson lovin', haha.
Very good review, as usual.

Still, something is not right. This is not Pat Benatar.

Hahaha.

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
October 30th 2006



16072 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I feel ashamed to say this is one of the two or three KC albums I havent listened to, although I do have it on vinyl. You did get me interested in hearing, so I'll be doing that soon.

Kage
October 30th 2006



1173 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Wow, that's the quickest I ever got comments. Thanks for the feedback.

I kind of ignored the existence of Discipline and Beat for this review, because this album isn't TERRIBLY unlike those, but the angle I wanted to take of unexpected popiness moving into usual Crimson evil called for pretending this stood on its own.

pulseczar
October 30th 2006



2385 Comments


I haven't listened to this in a while, but I remember Discipline being the only 80s release I really really liked, but I need to start really getting into these guys again.

Kage
October 30th 2006



1173 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yes you do. This album took forever for me to get into it, but songs like Industry, Nuages, and Dig Me really hit me hard eventually.

Of course, the title track is just so addicting and catchy. I love it.

Hatshepsut
October 30th 2006



1997 Comments


Another review...ah well. Great review of course.

AlienEater
October 31st 2006



716 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I don't really like this album, but King Crimson are fantastic.This Message Edited On 10.31.06

Kage
October 31st 2006



1173 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

There's a love/hate divide between Crimson fans and these 80s albums.

I think this is a better recording than ITCOTCK.

Ataraxia
October 31st 2006



59 Comments


Excellent review, and thanks for the comment on mine.

Crimson's an amazing band (understatement). I got this album recently and haven't listened to the whole thing, but from what I have heard it seems pretty good.

You definitely know your stuff about KC, so I'll give this a full listen tonight.

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
November 21st 2006



16072 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I finally listened to this; Model Man is pretty much the greatest thing ever.

Egglord
September 30th 2007



12 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This album is very boring and not worth your time. Sleepless, Model Man, Industry, and The King Crimson Barber Shop are the only worthwhile tracks on here. I love King Crimson but I still have no idea why this was ever made. Experimental is good, but taking it too far produces crap like this. This Message Edited On 09.30.07

RussianSage777
March 27th 2008



5 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I can't stop listening to this album. Tracks like Model Man, Sleepless, and Man With an Open Heart are wonderful in their own right, but Dig Me takes the album to a new level. It's a shame that so many of their fans hate their 80s work.

jrowa001
March 27th 2008



8749 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i love this album, and Discipline and Beat. the title track is awesome as well

Sabottheory
December 30th 2008



355 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I like Discipline and hate Beat. Will I like this?

Merkaba33
March 30th 2009



702 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

probably not. this album is more like beat than discipline.

NightmareCinema16
May 4th 2012



2016 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Soooooo....what about Sleepless? You didn't just miss that on purpose? That's another good song, is it not?

luvdrama
June 26th 2012



1 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

An extremely interesting listen, but ultimately not enough melody (even for KC). The bonus tracks are fun!

menawati
Contributing Reviewer
September 20th 2012



14506 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

prefer this to Beat, love the groove on Sleepless

Digging: Atomic Ape - Swarm

Chortles
September 20th 2012



17510 Comments


i actually prefer beat to this by a hair. larks pt. 3 is the bomb though

Digging: Chico Buarque - Construo

menawati
Contributing Reviewer
September 20th 2012



14506 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

ye larks 3 is great idd



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