King Crimson – THRAK – Discipline Global Mobile (CD & DVD-A)

by | Nov 24, 2015 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews

King Crimson – THRAK – Discipline Global Mobile KCSP13 (CD + DVD audio) DVD: 2015 MLP 5.1; DTS 5.1; 2015 stereo mixes/ ML Stereo (24/96); PCM Stereo 2.0 (24/48); 30th Anniversary re-mastered PCM Stereo 2.0 24/48); CD:2 015 stereo mix ****:

(Robert Fripp – guitar, soundscapes, Mellotron; Adrian Belew – guitar, voice, words; Trey Gunn – stick, backing vocals; Tony Levin – upright bass, electric bass; Pat Mastelotto – acoustic, electric percussion; Bill Bruford – acoustic, electric percussion)

For the last five decades, Robert Fripp has been the only member of King Crimson to play on every album. He has been responsible for the various personnel moves and conceptual inspirations. He has made an impact as a session player with a diverse group of musicians including David Bowie, Daryl Hall, Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel, Blondie, Andy Summers, The Roches and Talking Heads. In the studio, Fripp is renowned as a sonic pioneer with his succession of digital loop records that are called Soundscapes. But it seems that the reincarnations of King Crimson stoke the creative fires in the most commercial formats. In 1981, the fourth installment of the band added singer, lyricist and guitarist Adrian Belew , bassist  Tony Levin and drummer Bill Bruford. In 1994, Fripp completed the “double trio” band format with the addition of Chapman stick player Trey Gunn and drummer Pat Mastelloto. The next year the reformed King Crimson released the eleventh studio recording, THRAK.

Discipline Globe Music has released a sonically upgraded set (CD + DVD audio) of the 1995 album THRAK. Twenty years later, it is very clear that the Fripp-led King Crimson is the only progressive rock band to create new, challenging music. Utilizing this double trio (combined and at cross purposes), THRAK is uniquely composed and performed. The opening track, “VROOM” has a gentle string intro (for about twenty seconds) before Fripp’s jagged, distorted electric guitar riffs approximate a “Peter Gunn”-type hook. At 1:45 there is a bass/guitar melodic transition before the jam returns. This is an auspicious beginning. After a short but strange (with recited numbers) “Coda: Marine 475”, the centerpiece “Dinosaur” emerges. Again a lyrical string intro gives way to a repetitive guitar line. Belew’s willowy vocals offer a distinct counterpoint to Fripp’s sharp-toned assault. At the 3:30 mark, there is a one-minute calm guitar/string interlude that explodes into the song chorus again.

Shifting gears, “Walking On Air” is dreamlike and ethereal with subdued, creative electric guitar. “B’Boom” emerges from a dense mix to a percussive groove before a terrific double-drum solo that segues into the intense crashing first part of the title track. Fripp’s searing guitar riffs are featured. Belew and Fripp collaborate melodically on “Inner Garden I” and “Inner Garden II”. Belew’s vocal prowess imbues “One Time” with a low-keyed sweeping texture. There are some tougher grooves. “Sex Sleep Eat Drink Dream” is almost a psychedelic blues piece. This complex musical landscape finishes with a reprise of “VROOM” and an experimental coda.

Both 5.1 (DTS-Digital surround and MLP 5.1 Surround) mixes are revelatory. Within the intentionally dense template, Jakko Jakszyk has managed to highlight details of the instrumentation. Fripp’s diverse, aurally eclectic guitar tonality soars with dynamic vitality. The propulsive drumming is crisp and has a gritty low-end power. Belew’s voice is captured with a hushed resonance. Included on the DVD are the 2015 MLP Lossless and PCM Stereo mixes and the re-mastered original PCM stereo mix.

There are more expanded box sets of THRAK including a 16-disc (2 BDs, 2 DVDs and 12 CDs) extravaganza. King Crimson continues to be edgy and listenable.

CD (2015 Mix): VROOM; Coda: Marine 475; Dinosaur; Walking On Air; B’Boom; THRAK; Inner garden I; People; Radio I; One Time; Radio II; Inner Garden II; Sex Sleep Eat Drink Dream; VROOM VROOM; VROOM VROOM: Coda
DVD: (2015 Surround Mixes) MLP Lossless 5.1 Surround, DTS 5.1, (2015 Stereo Album Mix) MLP Lossless Stereo (24/96), PCM Stereo (24/48); Original Stereo Mix 30th anniversary re-mastered PCM Stereo 2.0 (24/48) – same tracks as CD

[The Amazon link is only for the plain CD; see elsewhere for the hi-res surround mixes…Ed.]

—Robbie Gerson

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