King Crimson

THRAK

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The only progressive rock band from the '60s to be making new, vital, progressive music in the '90s, King Crimson returned from a ten-year exile in 1995 with THRAK, their first album since 1984's Three of a Perfect Pair. As with the '80s band, guitarist/ringleader Robert Fripp recruited singer/guitarist Adrian Belew, bassist Tony Levin, and drummer Bill Bruford for this incarnation of his classic band. However, he added to this familiar quartet two new members: Chapman Stick player Trey Gunn and ex-Mr. Mister drummer Pat Mastelotto. Effectively, Fripp created a "double trio," and the six musicians combine their instruments in extremely unique ways. The mix is very dense, overpoweringly so at times, but careful listens will reveal that each musician has his own place in each song; the denseness of the sound is by design, not the accidental result of too many cooks in the kitchen. Sometimes, as in "THRAK," the two trios are set against each other, in some sort of musical faux combat. In others, they just combine their respective sounds to massive effect. On "Dinosaur," perhaps the strongest track on the record, Mastelotto and Bruford set up an ominous tom-tom groove that supports an even more ominous guitar figure. The vocal, the musings of a long-dead sauropod, are vintage Belew, just as the freaky, falling-down-the-stairs solo in the middle is vintage Fripp. Other high points include the drum duet "B'Boom" and the two Belew/Fripp "Inner Garden" pieces. Allusions to earlier Crimson abounds, such as the form of "VROOM," for example, which is suspiciously reminiscent of "Red" (from the 1974 album of the same name), or the shout-out to "The Sheltering Sky" (from 1981's Discipline) in "Walking on Air." Thankfully, this never gets annoying, but instead acts as a subtle nudge and a wink to faithful fans. King Crimson came back in a major way with THRAK, and proved that, even in its fourth major incarnation, Fripp and company still had something to say. High-quality prog.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 4:38
2 2:41
3 6:37
4 4:38
5 4:11
6 3:59
7 1:47
8 5:53
9 0:43
10 5:22
11 1:02
12 1:16
13 4:50
14 5:50
15 3:01
blue highlight denotes track pick