The latest album from the disgustingly talented sixth (!) lineup of King Crimson. The band is similar to the 1995-2000 "double trio" lineup but is reduced to a quartet featuring Pat Mastelotto on drums and Trey Gunn on Warr guitar (a variation of the Chapman Stick). You'd think that without the virtuoso rhythm team of Tony Levin and Bill Bruford, the overall sound would diminish. On the contrary, this is some of Crimson's heaviest music ever.
Here's a brief track-by-track review:
"The Power To Believe I":
This is the first of four movements in a suite. A very short spoken word poem, which leads into:
This is like the heavy metal reprise of "Discipline". Distorted, evil guitar riffs trade over complex rhythmic polymeters in this lengthy instrumental.
"Eyes Wide Open":
KC has always been a balance of loud, crushing riffs and lighter, hippiesque ballads. This mellow song would do well on the radio. Nice lyrics from longtime frontman Adrian Belew.
This album has more instrumental work than is usual even for KC, but never disappoints. Opens with woodwinds and a quirky guitar melody, and continues for a fascinating seven minutes.
"Facts Of Life: Intro":
A brief interlude of white noise that segues into:
"Facts Of Life":
A hard-rocking satirical tune, with a nice "unison solo". Mastelotto and Gunn rock the house with their pounding rhythms.
"The Power To Believe II":
My personal favourite of the album, this is really Pat Mastelotto's piece. His layers of percussion (tabla, glockenspiel, tambourine, etc) play back and forth beautifully until the bass (Gunn seems to have inherited Tony Levin's sense of melody) and guitars come in.
Another instrumental, which cruises along on a repetative 6/4 guitar riff. The rhythm section is almost techno-ish on this track, although they spice things up with constant variations and fills.
"Happy With What You Have To Be Happy With":
A downright hilarious parody of the nu-metal bands that dominate today's popular scene. Fripp's dissonant, amateurish solo is almost as amusing as the sarcastic lyrics.
"The Power To Believe III":
It's not KC without a little Crimprov (to use a Frippian expression). This is actually a live soundscape.
"The Power To Believe IV: Coda":
After several bars of atonal free-form improvisation, the album ends with a second hearing of the haiku from the beginning of the album (which is interspersed throughout the lyrics). A perfect conclusion to a great album.
Adrian Belew: Guitar, Voice
Robert Fripp: Guitar
Trey Gunn: Warr Guitar, Warr Fretless Guitar
Pat Mastelotto: Traps and Buttons
Overall Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars