(114) Fred Barrett, Beyond Coltrane -- 2/1/03

One of my favorite jazz-rock bands of all time is the 1972-1974 configuration of King Crimson, featuring Robert Fripp on guitar, John Wetton on fuzz bass, Bill Bruford on drums, and David Cross on violin. This band was a force to be reckoned with: blistering heavy metal prog, searing highs and rumbling lows, polyrhythmic and odd-time beats and tempos, jangling tones and intricate juxtapositions of strangeness. All that was just the icing on the cake. This band could create spontaneous compositions from the air, start them from almost nothing and build them into powerhouses of imagination. Everything seemed to groove, even stuff in 17/16 time. Everything got really loud, climaxed, and then subsided. The band was unstoppable. It was the most incredible example of heavy prog music for all time.

This quartet of Bendian on drums, Gauthier on violin, Liebig on bass, and Stinson on guitars functions on, as far as I can tell, exactly the same magnitude as 72-74 King Crimson. Each of the twelve "works" on this filled-to-the-max CD starts with impressions, develops a theme, increases the stakes and intensity, climaxes and then dissipates like the perfect science fiction engine. To confirm my suspicions of pure Crimson-ness, I find on the inside of the digipak fold this inscription: "All music improvised in real time". Proof offered: this quartet shares one mind, a dark and sizzling entity. This veritable force of musicians and has created an important album for the world.

Know this: the 72-74 King Crimson was plagued with problems and dissolved with a whimper. This quartet promises something: it lets us know that it can do what the masters of three dacades ago could do, and it also lets us know that it is still viable and existing in this temporal plane to build on its themes more. Whether it chooses to build another bone structure is beside the point. This music can be done today, and it can still work on its own level, in its own merit. What's more important is this: it can do it without sounding "proggy" or dated. I am very happy to know this.

Fred Barrett
Beyond Coltrane