King Crimson

Shoganai

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Prior to the release of The Power to Believe (2003), King Crimson issued this disc in two distinct forms. In Asian territories it was christened Shoganai (2002) -- which literally translates as "it could not be helped" or there is no way of doing, or nothing can be done. In the rest of the world, it was released as Happy with What You Have to Be Happy With (2002). While P.J. Crook's inventive artwork is perceptibly different, the audio contents are the same. Featured within is King Crimson's inaugural incarnation of the 21st century with Adrian Belew (guitar/vocals), Robert Fripp (guitar), Trey Gunn (Warr guitar/rubber bass/fretless Warr guitar), and Pat Mastelotto (drums/percussion) all providing their respective input. This isn't the only instance that Krim had introduced their latest configuration via an EP. Eight years earlier the six-song Vrooom (1994) hearkened a rebirth that would subsequently be explored on the full-length Thrak (1994), much in the same way these tunes would resurface on the Power to Believe (2003) long player. Belew's lyrical contributions are as searing and insightful as they have ever been and in the wake of the tragic events of September 11, 2001, arguably more so. "Bude" is the first in a series of short haikus with Belew's voice electronically manipulated for an ethereal effect. "Happy with What You Have to Be Happy With" then careens with the full-force thrash of a heavy alt metal combo. Belew's uncanny craftsmanship actually dissects his unique style of composition lyrically as reflected in the phrases "And when I have some words/This is the way I'll sing/Through a distortion box/to make them menacing." "Mie Gakure" is a two-minute meditative soundscape interlude from Robert Fripp (guitar). While the necessitation for brevity is duly noted for this release, interested parties are emphatically encouraged to seek any of Fripp's full-length soundscapes -- such as Blessing of Tears (1995), November Suite (1996) and Gates of Paradise (1998). "She Shudders" -- another of Belew's harmonized haikus -- prefaces an acoustic version of a second new tune, "Eyes Wide Open." Again, in a post 9/11 world, Belew's words ring with a formidable truth and poignancy. The moody and dark "Potato Pie" is a modern blues decked out in idly sculpted cords and bathed in Fripp and Belew's collective fretwork . Although the continuity is primarily in spirit, the epic "Larks' Tongues in Aspic, Pt. 4" pulls out all the stops with sonic motifs linking the concurrent unit to its equally intense past. Perhaps as a nod to the infamous "inner groove" of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967) there is a hidden and unnamed cut-and-paste pastiche consisting of incidental musical and spoken word odds and ends taken from the recording sessions. Sandwiched between rehearsal snippets of the title work "Shoganai" and the "Construkction of Light" there is a bit of Belew doggerel dubbed "Einstein's Relatives." These sonic scraps conclude with the final strains of "In the Court of the Crimson King" performed live by an uncredited vocal chorale. Truly fodder for the Krim faithful!

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