Thursday, December 13, 2018


Absent Lovers-- King Crimson

Double cd set of a 1984 concert in Montreal, during their Beat, Discipline, & Three of a Perfect Pair period. This grouping is one of Fripp's best lineups, with Adrian Belew, Tony Levin on bass and stick, and Bill Bruford on drums, and what we have is something sounding no less than a more muscular Talking Heads (check out "Man with an Open Heart"). One needn't choke on that if Heads aren't their idea of heaven, because the abrasive textures, the angular riffing, gamelan rhythms, and swarming-bees improvisations abound aplenty here. Tasty. Crankier, spookier, harder, this is the goth side of Crimson, though there is little in the alternately playful/deadpan visage of the band's characters that gives you any hint of just how serious you need to take them. Hint: just seriously enough. Below is one of the great rock guitarists, for sheer whammy bar genius-- no one does six-string torture bends like him, save the sainted and departed Jimi-and I admit, I'm a sucker for his Kerouacian lyrics. Kerouac has not been my idea of anything brilliant--in fact, I think he's an absolutely horrible novelist-- but Belew is someone who picked up on what was trying to be done and made art out of it. If a failed novelist who would rhapsodize in huge portions of his best-known fictions with a careless application of jacked up modifiers and agitated adjectives in conspicuous attempts to intensify the experience for the readers, Kerouac, all the same, had a talent for loose, open -form free verse poetry; although not as sharp as some of his contemporaries--Ginsberg, Gary Snyder, Michael McLure--Kerouac 's verse had a snap and rhythmic sizzle that was as jazzy as he tried to make his prose. Belew picks up on this vibe and writes in a way where the words bounce, race, and arrive on, after and before the morphing rhythms that Bruford and Levin put across. Choppy rhythms and jerky pops and beeps; truly a band of great surprise. Fripp is the great Bringer of Chaos, and what's impressive is that he's been able to provide an art-context for his unique music and idiosyncratic aesthetics apart of the usual lockstep spheres and institutions that crush true innovation with the same avant gard template. Note: this is a 1998 release that Fripp and his DMG company have been sitting on for years. Somethings are worth waiting for.  Another note: disc one is a cd-rom that is clunky and hard to navigate. There is a video, apparently, that comes among its features, but I've skipped it after trying too long to access it, and landed straight on the audio portion of the show, which, I hope I've made clear, is wonderful and wild.

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