It's a great time to be a King Crimson fan. They've been releasing live albums to the public on a regular basis through DGM, and now they've taken things one step further by offering 'club memberships' where basically you receive new concerts in the mail every month or two. The latest DGM offering is an excellent 3CD set recorded on the band's recent European tour, called Heavy ConstruKction. The first two discs comprise the majority of what you would've heard if you caught one of the shows, plus some jaw-dropping improvs.
Of the three CDs, disc one is easily the most accessible. It starts with three songs from the band's latest studio effort, The ConstruKction of Light. The improv from Munchen features some fierce jamming, before things quiet down for "One Time." "Dinosaur" and "VROOOM" are always great in concert, and these renditions don't disappoint. Sure, it would be better if Bill Bruford was behind the drum kit (Bruford and bassist Tony Levin did not appear on this tour), but Pat Mastelotto does a fine job. The only bad track to be found is "The World's My Oyster Soup Kitchen Floor Wax Museum." I never thought I'd hear a Crimson tune with the lyrics "get jiggy with it," but here it is. The improv from Bonn starts off in an ethereal, almost Tomita-like mood, and then descends into a wash of noise--exactly what the Crims are best known for.
Disc two pushes the envelope a bit more. It kicks off with an inspired version of "Sex, Sleep, Eat, Drink, Dream," before the quiet and moody improv from Offenbach comes in. This is one of the better improvs on the three discs and features two solos from bassist Trey Gunn. The centerpiece of the set is the epic "Larks' Tongues in Aspic: Part Four." Definitely not for the faint of heart, this track transcends description. It must be seen to be believed. More on that in just a second
After "Larks IV," Adrian Belew turns in a solo acoustic version of "Three of a Perfect Pair." The second disc closes with a cover of David Bowie's classic "Heroes." Listen closely and you'll hear a new Crimson reference in the song. As a bonus to fans with a copy of Windows Media Player, disc two includes 45 minutes of video from the band's recent performance in Rome, including "Larks IV" and 6 more songs. If you've never had the chance to witness the band in concert, be sure to check out the video portion of the second disc.
The third disc is made up of an hour of various improvs from throughout the tour. To the novice Crimson listener, this may seem like a strange thing to do, but it actually comes off quite well. "Sapir" begins with an awesome display of bass work by Gunn, which continues throughout the track. "ccccSeizurecc" is one of the best cuts on disc three, incorporating parts of "Into the Frying Pan." You can see this particular improv performed on the video portion of the second disc. "7 Seas" is a dark, brooding piece that leads into the trippy "Tomorrow Never Knew Thela," a strange mix of "Thela Hun Ginjeet" and The Beatles' "Tomorrow Never Knows."
Heavy ConstruKction makes an excellent addition to the ever-expanding catalog of live KC releases. Fripp's guitar work shows an aggressive side that hasn't been seen since the late 70's, and the songs from The ConstruKction of Light (which seemed rather lackluster on the original disc) really come to life in the concert setting. One of the coolest things about King Crimson is the way they continually reinvent themselves, and the lineup documented here is in fine form. If you were put off by the recent box set from The ProjeKcts, you'll be pleasantly surprised when you check out Heavy ConstruKction. It's the most consistent Crimson release since 1995's THRAK.
|© 2000 Steve Marshall|