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progVisions

progVisions is a progressive rock e-zine, published in English and made by an international group of members. Our objective is to become a centre of information that contributes to the knowledge, growth and development of progressive rock.

album reviews

album review

King Crimson - Project One - Live at the Jazz Cafe - 1999

To enter in a restaurant, to pick the menu and to choose in order to satisfy our hunger. It is necessary to choose well. This time there is a new menu, composed by four dishes coming from different kitchens, but the same as there is French, Italian, Chinese or Spanish food -sweet torrijas-, these four dishes come from the King Crimson school. By the way the menu is called The ProjeKcts. The entries are already cooked, ProjeKct One.

The "projeKct" is formed by the unavoidable and indispensable Robert Fripp to the guitar, his faithful student Trey Gunn with an evolution of the Warr Guitar that he calls Touch guitar, Tony Levin at bass, stick and synthesizer and Bill Bruford at drums and percussion. Certainly the lineup impresses just reading the names. But we are to be impressed and much more. This is a summary of four concerts offered in the Jazz Café of London, December 97, structured in nine pieces with unlikely titles ("4 i 1", "4 ii 1", "3 i 2"...). The theme of the concerts was not more, not less than to play improvised music from the start until the end. The interesting thing is that they are much more concrete improvisations that those offered when King Crimson interpreted "Thrak", for example. That is to say, it is King Crimson language but investigating in something more defined as for its sound but completely free as for its delivery. This last point is emphasized by a sentence of Bruford inside the CD: "An unfortunate side-effect of most arrangements is to ensure that accidents don’t happen. The beauty of collective improvisation is that accidents will happen". Once again the years of rest have made a gray-hair grow in the renovating head of K.C.

The improvisations are full with shades and it surprises to think on the simplicity that wraps them as a concept: four people in a small club. The air of spontaneity is noticed in things as the pauses in which Tony Levin, of the hand of Bill Bruford or in solitary, insists in a rhythm base to which the melodic-harmonic section of Fripp and "Gunny" adhere. Or other times in an introduction of two voices that presents an outline for the development. After all it is the form in which improvisation has always taken place, but it is necessary to keep in mind of whom we are speaking about. Here are the legs and arms of the current King Crimson. They lack the head and hands that stay at the moment in Adrián Belew. From the first note in each improvisation just a mind sounds, an ideal, robust, strong, mature conglomerate. Of course the theme has the expected tense, dark general character and force –those who have listened to the improvisations of Wetton, Cross, Bruford, Fripp know how it sounds like-.

Where does all this power come from? There are several factors. On the one hand Bill Bruford and Tony Levin. It is absurd to insist in the quality of these two musicians, as much in technique as in style, good taste and discursive capacity. They have been playing music together, inside and outside of K.C. for about twenty years and that is clearly noticed. Bill Bruford sounds more complete and subtler than ever, extending the registries of the drums -highlighting the varnish of Jazz that he so much likes- (listening to Bill Bruford and not paying attention to his right hand and his drums is a mortal sin) -. He continues to be a troglodyte dressed with a formal suit and a hat. He will never stop surprising us. It is necessary to wonder if his capacity has a limit, as in this CD he is simply amazing. Tony Levin continues being one of the best examples of the language of the bass, which doesn't mean, that his rhythms are scrawled crazy with slap or that he plays a note each twelve compasses. The stick also continues being his pleasure. Each note is an orchestra that sounds how and where he wants it to sound. It is only necessary to join these two gentlemen to have "The" Rhythm Section.

On the other hand Fripp and Gunn prove a model union between student and teacher. In fact it is the richest in the projeKcts since we can distinguished very well one and another. Gunn doesn't sound absolutely Fripp which is musically more colorful than in the "ProjeKct Three". He shows his usual lyricism exploiting to the maximum his personal wah-wah sound (listen to the fifth track). When Fripp appears in the leading role, the friend Trey usually goes to chords loaded with tension and plays a lot with the rhythm accents of the Levin-Bruford section. On the other hand, Fripp rests: if his lingering notes have to sound, he makes them present, but he also goes to the soundscapes in an adjusted way (as a harmonic texture) or to support the rhythm section. In summary, there are four musicians, each of the size of the plateau of Pamir, with just one surprising personality. And, on the contrary of what many would make, their personalities don't collide but rather they form a box of unyielding music. The most difficult task is to describe how it sounds.

There are fragments in which there is nothing present –where we can not highlight a rhythm, melody, or harmony- but in which the band plays at full steam. There are also spaces in which Gunn and Fripp only develop melodies in two voices. Without a doubt, the conglomerate is unique: harmony -sweet soundscapes-, pure rhythm, melodic rhythm -the force of the sticks and the touch guitar-, melodies playing with rhythm, etc. Then, suddenly, Trey Gunn's wailing makes the whole group spark fire with a surprising intensity without a single distortion being heard. In other occasions, however, everything can be distorted supporting a violent topic. Other times the music is dissonant, it breaks, it sprouts again....

If it was necessary to mention a representative track of the CD, it would be easier to blow our head. But to just mention one, the sixth track is brilliant, without lowering in any case the quality of the rest of the CD.

In spite of its name, this fragment of the projeKcts was the second in the fractalisation of King Crimson, with the purpose of gathering material with view to a future King Crimson. We could think about a great similarity at first sight with the fourth as for the lineup, just as it says in the menu, but nothing farther from reality. It will be necessary to taste it before the first and second dish. But it is worthwhile the indigestion because after the entries, we are left with desires to conquer the world sparkled with projeKct sauce. Core, elegant and excellent are not words enough. Perfect.

César García - April 2000
rating - Discipline Global Mobile

 

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