King Crimson

The Power to Believe

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The Power to Believe (2003) marks the return of King Crimson for the group's first full-length studio release since ConstruKction of Light (2000). While it draws upon material featured on the live Level Five (2001) and studio Happy with What You Have to Be Happy With (2002) extended-play discs, there are also several new sonic sculptures included. Among them is the title track, which is divided into a series of central thematic motifs much in the same manner as the "Larks' Tongues in Aspic" movements had done in the past. This 21st century schizoid band ably bears the torch of its predecessors with the same ballsy aggression that has informed other seminal King Crimson works -- such as In the Court of the Crimson King (1969), Red (1974), and more recently THRAK (1995). This incarnation of the Mighty Krim includes the excessively talented quartet of Adrian Belew (guitar/vocals), Robert Fripp (guitar), Trey Gunn (Warr guitar/Warr fretless guitar), and Pat Mastelotto (percussion). Under the auspices of Machine -- whose notable productions include post-grunge and industrial medalists Pitchshifter and White Zombie -- the combo unleashes a torrent of alternating sonic belligerence ("Level Five") and inescapable beauty ("Eyes Wide Open"). These extremes are linked as well as juxtaposed by equally challenging soundscapes from Fripp on "The Facts of Life: Intro" as well as Belew's series of "The Power to Believe" haikus. The disc is fleshed out with some choice extended instrumentals such as "Elektrik" and "Dangerous Curves," boasting tricky time signatures that are indelibly linked to equally engaging melodies. Both "Happy With What You Have to Be Happy With" and "Facts of Life" stand out as the (dare say) perfect coalescence of Belew's uncanny Beatlesque lyrical sense with the sort of bare-knuckled, in your face aural attack that has defined King Crimson for over three decades. If the bandmembers' constant tone probing is an active search to find the unwitting consciousness of a decidedly younger, rowdier, and more demanding audience, their collective mission is most assuredly accomplished on The Power to Believe -- even more so than the tripped-out psychedelic prog rock behemoth from whence they initially emerged.

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