Music

King Crimson: Live at the Orpheum

King Crimson continue to march to the beat of their own drummers. All three of them.


King Crimson

Live at the Orpheum

Label: Discipline Global Mobile
US Release Date: 2015-01-20
UK Release Date: 2015-01-10
Label website
Artist website
Amazon
iTunes

Ever since Robert Fripp reneged on his half-ass promise at retirement, King Crimson fans have probably been wondering just who the next functioning band was going to be. Not that they weren't prepared for a personnel shift. King Crimson devotees have been putting up with lineup changes for decades and musical weak links have proved difficult to come by. A quick answer to Who is King Crimson in 2015? is that it's the lineup that recorded A Scarcity of Miracles plus industrial music skin pounder Bill Rieflin. So yes, that means that King Crimson now has three drummers. Vocalist Jakko Jakszyk has reprised his role from the "King Crimson ProjeKct" as did saxophonist Mel Collins, who initially left the band in the early '70s. Gavin Harrison and Pat Mastelotto have hopped back on board, making Rieflin's job all the more baffling. The ever reliable Tony Levin holds down the low end and the ever restless Fripp continues to somehow make it all happen.

In 2014, this King Crimson lineup hit the road with their Elements of King Crimson tour. Live at the Orpheum consists of material from two shows at Los Angeles's Orpheum Theatre. The odd thing about Live at the Orpheum is how small it is. With seven tracks at almost 41 minutes, this is puny by King Crimson standards. The band has been trafficking heavily in live albums for the past twenty years or so and a majority of them have been enormous. But Jakszyk had the final say in what made the cut for Live at the Orpheum, and his standards for a live album could be different from what went into, say Heavy ConstruKction. But you can't even really call this a quick stroll through the garden of King Crimson past. It's a quick glance out the back door, possibly depicting a band that is ready to move on to the future already.

So what did make it on to Live at the Orpheum? You'll find two tracks from Red, two tracks from Islands, one from The ConstruKction of Light and two odd little pieces that function as an introduction and an interlude. It's hard to tell where the live ambiance ends and the studio manipulation begins on the strangely titled "Walk On: Monk Morph Chamber Music". Without it, the led-heavy riff that kicks off "One More Red Nightmare" would have been the first thing you hear on the album and that certainly wouldn't have been no great tragedy. Jakko Jakszyk's pipes sound more like Jack Bruce than Adrian Belew or John Wetton, but that matters for nil when he can chase any note up the scale and stay true to the ambitious nature of King Crimson's music. Collins finds ways to insert himself though they may not please every seat in the house (his use of soprano sax on "Starless" coming to mind). And when it comes to the Levin/Harrison/Mastelotto/Rieflin rhythm section, this doesn't sound like an album made with three drummers. Granted, I don't really know what all three of them are doing in a literal sense, but the precise nature of a percussive sound coupled with King Crimson's head-spinningly complicated songs is enough of a burden for one drummer alone. The fact that Live at the Orpheum never sounds cluttered or off-kilter is incredible. Even when the band is really in the thick of their own noise on "The Letters" and "Sailor's Tale", they continue to make this racket their own without one members sounding like they were even close to leaving the rails.

Live at the Orpheum concludes with no audience noise. The final notes of "Starless" just fade away. There they go, playing by their own rules...again. But that's what we pay them for and that's what we'll hold them to. Bring on that next studio album, ya prog nosticators.

7

Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

Tim Bowness of No-Man Discusses Thematic Ambition Amongst Social Division

With the release of his seventh solo album, Late Night Laments, Tim Bowness explores global tensions and considers how musicians can best foster mutual understanding in times of social unrest.

Music

Angel Olsen Creates a 'Whole New Mess'

No one would call Angel Olsen's Whole New Mess a pretty album. It's much too stark. But there's something riveting about the way Olsen coos to herself that's soft and comforting.

Music

Masma Dream World Go Global and Trippy on "Sundown Forest" (premiere)

Dancer, healer, musician Devi Mambouka shares the trippy "Sundown Forest", which takes listeners deep into the subconscious and onto a healing path.

Music

'What a Fantastic Death Abyss': David Bowie's 'Outside' at 25

David Bowie's Outside signaled the end of him as a slick pop star and his reintroduction as a ragged-edged arty agitator.

Music

Dream Folk's Wolf & Moon Awaken the Senses with "Eyes Closed" (premiere)

Berlin's Wolf & Moon are an indie folk duo with a dream pop streak. "Eyes Closed" highlights this aspect as the act create a deep sense of atmosphere and mood with the most minimal of tools.

Television

Ranking the Seasons of 'The Wire'

Years after its conclusion, The Wire continues to top best-of-TV lists. With each season's unique story arc, each viewer is likely to have favorites.

Film

Paul Reni's Silent Film 'The Man Who Laughs' Is Serious Cinema

There's so much tragedy present, so many skullduggeries afoot, and so many cruel and vindictive characters in attendance that a sad and heartbreaking ending seems to be an obvious given in Paul Reni's silent film, The Man Who Laughs.

Music

The Grahams Tell Their Daughter "Don't Give Your Heart Away" (premiere)

The Grahams' sweet-sounding "Don't Give Your Heart Away" is rooted in struggle, inspired by the couples' complicated journey leading up to their daughter's birth.

Music

Gloom Balloon Deliver an Uplifting Video for "All My Feelings For You" (premiere)

Gloom Balloon's Patrick Tape Fleming considers what making a music video during a pandemic might involve because, well, he made one. Could Fellini come up with this plot twist?

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Music

Brian Cullman Gets Bluesy with "Someday Miss You" (premiere)

Brian Cullman's "Someday Miss You" taps into American roots music, carries it across the Atlantic and back for a sound that is both of the past and present.

Music

IDLES Have Some Words for Fans and Critics on 'Ultra Mono'

On their new album, Ultra Mono, IDLES tackle both the troubling world around them and the dissenters that want to bring them down.

Music

Napalm Death Return With Their Most Vital Album in Decades

Grindcore institution Napalm Death finally reconcile their experimental side with their ultra-harsh roots on Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism.

Film

NYFF: 'Notturno' Looks Passively at the Chaos in the Middle East

Gianfranco Rosi's expansive documentary, Notturno, is far too remote for its burningly immediate subject matter.

Music

The Avett Brothers Go Back-to-Basics with 'The Third Gleam'

For their latest EP, The Third Gleam, the Avett Brothers leave everything behind but their songs and a couple of acoustic guitars, a bass, and a banjo.

Music

PM Picks Playlist 1: Rett Madison, Folk Devils + More

The first PopMatters Picks Playlist column features searing Americana from Rett Madison, synthpop from Everything and Everybody, the stunning electropop of Jodie Nicholson, the return of post-punk's Folk Devils, and the glammy pop of Baby FuzZ.

Books

David Lazar's 'Celeste Holm  Syndrome' Appreciates Hollywood's Unsung Character Actors

David Lazar's Celeste Holm Syndrome documents how character actor work is about scene-defining, not scene-stealing.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.