King Crimson

The ConstruKction of Light

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King Crimson, one of the few first-generation progressive rock bands to remain nearly consistent in the quality of their output throughout their career, fall flat with The ConstruKction of Light, the band's 12th studio album. Unable to shed the weight of their oft-brilliant history, the most promising moments of ConstruKction are crushed underneath the bulk. What makes ConstruKction such a disappointment is, despite how "progressive" the band-fragmenting ProjeKct approach appeared on paper, upon execution, it produced an utterly backward-looking album. More self-referential than a Jean-Luc Godard film, nearly every song on ConstruKction contains a heavy-handed nod to a previous Crimson song. There are even two tracks that are directly named after old Crimson material: "FraKctured" and "Larks Tongues in Aspic-Part IV." The most notable shift the pared-down, four-piece Crimson makes with ConstruKction is getting rid of acoustic drums in favor of electronic "V" drums (courtesy of Pat Mastelotto, who took over full-time duties after Bruford left). Crimson does not seem to lose much in the transition, and, overall, the musicianship is superb as usual, but it's almost as if they thought new technology and a stripped down lineup would make up for a dearth of new ideas. Treading water is still treading water, even if the waters happen to be deep. There are, however, two bright spots on the album: "Into the Frying Pan" and "Heaven and Earth." The former features guitarist/vocalist Adrian Belew at his quirky best, and the latter (credited to Project X instead of King Crimson) is a beautifully textured, near-ambient piece that slowly builds intensity before a long, slow release. Together, they suggest that King Crimson may still have some gas left in their tank after all.

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