Level Five

King Crimson

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Level Five Review

by Lindsay Planer

This hand-numbered limited-edition five-song EP was available exclusively at the King Crimson merchandising booths during the six-week Level Five tour of North America in November and December 2001. The 45-minute mini-set captures the quartet -- Adrian Belew (guitar/vocals), Robert Fripp (guitar), Trey Gunn (Warr guitar), and Pat Mastelotto (percussion) -- thrashing out some of the most intense and rhythmically diverse sounds to ever bear the King Crimson moniker. Likewise, Level Five reveals a band reaching for and obtaining new levels of soul -- a quality sorely absent in the " alternative" rock of the early 21st century. A majority of the instrumental material makes its debut release on this disc. However, "The ConstruKction of Light" and "The Deception of the Thrush" date as far back as the ProjeKcts -- five unique incarnations of King Crimson circa the mid-'90s. These various ProjeKcts toured, recorded, and rehearsed, finally settling into the reformed quartet heard here. The instrumental works debuted on this disc -- including "Dangerous Curves" and "Virtuous Circle" -- explore the cohesive nature of King Crimson as a laser beam-focused eight-armed hydra-rhythmic machine. When operating on all four cylinders -- as heard on every moment of this release -- they are unrelenting in their absolute aural assault. The title track is so intense that it could easily be mistaken for the likes of Tool, Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, or KMFDM. As Adrian Belew explained from the stage at various stops on the Level Five tour, the material on this disc was chosen for several reasons. It represents works-in-progress to be continued on a subsequent King Crimson studio release (scheduled for spring of '02). Additionally, the most obvious reason -- to the curious as well as the seasoned enthusiast -- is that these recordings reverberate with the same undeniable energies that have been consistently front and center during all the best incarnations of King Crimson. Ultimately, they are best left describing themselves as they have since 1969 and continue to do so on this wondrous collection of noir noise.

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