en: The Power to Believe [info]
Never let it be said that King Crimson don't take time and care over their output and direction. It's now over three years since the line-up mutated from a double trio to a four-piece and over two since their first studio album. In all that time there have been various side projects, live albums, rehearsal EPs and all manner of official bootlegs/ aborted recording dates and re-thinks. Not many bands would have such a commitment to perfecting and searching for a new direction, but then again, if you ever get to listen to The Power To Believe, you'll know why it was totally necessary.
The band was bound to seriously re-tool their approach; due in no small part to the fact that this most English of institutions suddenly found itself to be three quarters American! This, combined with a tour supporting Tool led them to strip away a lot of the extraneous noodling that bogged down the last album (The Construcktion Of Light), making the new work far less 'prog' and much more...well, progressive in the true sense of the word. The original title of the album was Nuovo Metal - but this goes way beyond bludgeoning mayhem. Just listen to the post-modern japery on display in ''Happy With What You Have To Be Happy With''. It's mayhem with both balls and brains.
The title comes from a haiku that Adrian Belew (now the second longest-serving member after Fripp!) has lifted from his own work (''All Her Love Is Mine'' from the marvellous Op Zop Too Wah). A simple vocoder rendition, repeated at intervals throughout gives the album its coherence. What occurs in between is, in turns, startling, incendiary and also very, very beautiful.
Belew's lyrics now sit far more comfortably within this sixth incarnation, and ''Eyes Wide Open'''s harmonies couldn't fail to wrench the most atrophied of heartstrings. As with all Crimson albums the essential spirit of the band is represented by motifs from the band's thirty year history. ''Level Five'' has the gamelan-like guitar interplay that suffused Discipline. The ''Power To Believe II'' has the eastern vibe of Larks Tongues In Aspic work, and ''Dangerous Curves'' even harks back to the hairier days of In The Wake Of Poseidon.
But, as always, this is never the same band twice. All is fiercely invigorating and seems potent with some form of musical Viagra. ''Facts of Life'' has, without doubt, one of the most explosive pieces of playing by Fripp for a very long time, ''Dangerous Curves'' features the most demonic ending chord - ever and Pat Mastelotto's drums have finally found a place of their own in this framework (a place that many still holdsacrosanct for the mighty Bill Bruford).
With Crimson it's never a return to form. It's just a new way of expressing what Crimson have always been about. On this evidence all the hard work was more than worth it. Simply stunning.