The Return of King Crimson

King Crimson - The Construktion of Light
(Virgin Records)
2 1/ 2 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: June 1, 2000

By Tony Bonyata

With teenybop bubblegum fodder at its peak with today's youth, it seems an odd time for King Crimson to rear its prehistoric head. But then again, what better time to thaw out the monster and set it forth to see what havoc it can wreak on a complacent audience.
With a history that stretches back to 1969 and a staggering array of personnel changes, King Crimson founder and lead guitarist Robert Fripp has challenged, confused, influenced, provoked and amazed the world of progressive rock with a music that has been in perpetual evolution ever since its inception.
King CrimsonWith an on-again, off-again existence, Fripp explains his band's decision to regroup after years of musical abstinence from one another. "King Crimson is, as always, more a way of doing things. When there is nothing to be done, nothing is done - Crimson disappears. When there is music to be played, Crimson reappears. If all of life were this simple," he stated.
Fripp's credo for regrouping sounds simple and logical enough, and although there have been times when the music should not have been played, there have also been many amazing and brilliant moments in their prolific catalog.
Fripp's most current lineup features vocalist and guitarist-extraordinaire Adrian Belew, who's been with the band since 1981, Trey Gunn on bass-touch guitar and Pat Mastelotto on drums. The musicianship of the band is at a creative peak.
Although they have brief moments of brilliance on their latest release entitled The ConstruKction of Light , it is also, and not for the first time in their career, filled with passages of pompous mediocrity.
The album opens with welcome arms with the stomping "ProzaKc Blues" and follows with the title track which melds Belew's juxtaposed stream-of-consciousness lyrics ("Pain day sky beauty die black joy...") with his and Fripp's shimmering, systematic guitars that intertwinine throughout Gunn's and Mastelotto's free-form rhythms. Belew is further highlighted with unique vocal phrasings on "Into The Frying Pan," blending East Indian warbling with western pop sensibilities, as well as the troglodyte crunch of "The World's My Oyster Soup Kitchen Floor Wax Museum," which features tongue-in-cheek nonsensical run-on lyrics with Belew going so far as to tell us to (brace yourselves prog-rock fans) "get jiggy with it."
Reviving the epic monster of "Larks' Tongues in Aspic", which was first released on the 1974 album of the same name and later revisited on Three of a Perfect Pair and Thrak, Fripp takes the center stage in front of a thundering rhythm section with his complex web of off-kilter guitar schematics.
Unfortunately, though, Frippšs methodical, high-speed noodling on "FraKctured" and the meandering, patchwork bonus track of "Heaven and Earth" come off too heavy-handed and pretentious.
Even with its minor setbacks, The ConstruKction of Light and the ominous presence of King Crimson still comes as a heavy, breath of fresh air next to the almost unavoidable saccharine fluff that [alleged] rock fans are lapping up today.

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