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P2 At Albany Again
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Mon., Feb 20, 2012

My thanks to J Eric Smith for sending in this marvelous review of P2 playing Albany. You can hear the gig that Eric is writing about here.



Eric writes "I was a music critic (for better or worse) in Albany, New York for many years. My wife and I recently relocated to Des Moines, Iowa, and as part of launching a web presence in my new home community, I have been reviewing old archives of my work for items that might lend themselves to new purposes. I found a ProjeKCt Two live review (copied below) while digging through old floppy discs and files, and thought I would share it here, since I have not seen many other formal newsprint reviews from that era posted here. It was a lovely show, one that I still cite as one of my all-time favorite live performances.

****************************

ProjeKct Two
Valentine’s Music Hall, Albany, New York, May 8, 1998
Copyright 1998, J. Eric Smith (Originally appeared in Metroland, The Alternative Newsweekly of Northeastern New York)

"OK, now we’ve played everything we don’t know,so we can play something that we actually do know," announced electronic drummer Adrian Belew at the end of ProjeKct Two’s second all-instrumental, all-improvised set. Belew, 10-string Warr guitarist Trey Gunn and electric six-string guitarist Robert Fripp then encored with King Crimson’s "Vrooom," an angular number originally created by Fripp, Belew, Gunn and their Crimson bandmates Tony Levin, Bill Bruford and Pat Mastelotto.
 
As nice as it was to hear "Vrooom," the true value of the encore was to place the evening’s improvisational extravaganza in context by providing a single sample of how ProjeKct Two sounded when tackling a fully developed and structured instrumental piece. Frankly speaking, the encore paled in comparison to the 90 minutes of music preceding it, as its rehearsed complexities and nuances were nowhere near as impressive as the knotty, towering sound collages that ProjeKct Two created on the fly as the rapt audience watched and listened.
 
Fripp, Belew and Gunn were watching and listening to each other as well, and much of the thrill of this concert came from witnessing the interactions between these deeply talented musicians who have played together long enough to anticipate each other’s thoughts, sometimes before they eve realize that they’ve had them. Belew or Fripp typically opened each number with a drum or guitar pattern that the other musicians would would investigate, mount and ride, sometimes to loud and uplifting summits, sometimes to quiet, scary grottoes, sometimes back to the point at which they started. It was actually harrowing to experience in many cases, as the trio careened just on this side of control as they rode, the looks on their faces indicating that it was just as thrilling (and frightening) for them as it was their audience.
 
As important as technical prowess was to the concert’s success, mention must also be made of ProjeKct Two’s technological proficiancy. Belew was playing the latest generation of Roland virtual drums, allowing him to create a seemingly infinite number of sonic assaults as he clattered and rattled along with a look-Ma-I’ve-got drums grin on his face. (Understandable, given that he’s normally a guitarist.) Gunn matched Belew’s rhythmic and textural intensity as he tapped, stroked and and beat the touchboard of his Warr guitar.
 
Fripp spun out any number of his trademark spine-tingling sustained guitar lines but also used the treatment technology he has developed over the years via his Soundscape and Frippertronic performance experiments to create a wealth of tones and intonations. At times, the bands’ sounds were so far skewed from what your eyes were reporting to your brain that it was almost psychologically easier to look at the floor and imagine that Fripp was playing cluster chords on some beaten-up jazz-hall piano while Gunn blew on a baritone sax and Belew kept time by tapping on whisky bottles and ashtrays. Crazy, man, crazy.
 
All told, ProjeKct Two’s concert was a magnificent one, and I must confess to feeling great relief in being able to report that. Why? Because Robert Fripp’s written and recorded works have done more to shape both how I listen to and how I think about music than have any other artist’s over the last two decades, although I never actually stood in the same space with Fripp until last Friday. So imagine the potential for debilitating disappointment at this show, and then imagine the transcendent relief and joy when it didn’t come to pass. It literally moved me to tears. And how often can a wordless concert do that?"
 


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King Crimson - c'est magnifique
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Mon., Mar 23, 2015
Due to the demand for tickets an extra date at Paris Olympia has been added to King Crimson’s forthcoming European dates. The band will now be playing Sunday, September 20th in addition to the already publicised dates 21st and 22nd September.

Tickets go on sale Wednesday 25th March at 10.00 a.m. (French local time) from here.

In case you missed it, three more dates were added to the band's UK itinerary last week:

Saturday 12th Sept The Lowry, Salford
Tuesday 15th Sept Symphony Hall, Birmingham
Friday 18th Sept Usher Hall, Edinburgh

Tickets can be obtained here and at the venues.



It Was 42 Years Ago Today...
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Mon., Mar 23, 2015
Larks’ Tongues In Aspic was released on this date 42 years ago.



Can you recall the day you first encountered this album? Please leave your comments on the guestbook. You can read my take on that over on the blog.

In the meantime here's what Ian McDonald, writing in the New Musical Express in March 1973 had to say about the album...

"A NICE RECORD of pleasant, middle-of-the-road music which should prove a great favourite with everybody’s mum and dad this Easter. Bill Bruford’s whistling has improved out of all recognition and Robert Fripp’s Gregorian Chant rendition of ’I Did It My Way’ cuts Joaquin Des Prez’s original stone dead.

Start again!

Sharks’ Lungs In Lemsip is, in fact, a record (in every sense) of King Crimson’s current cosmic stage-act, leaving out only the long improvisation called ’Vista Under Arc-Lights’ which comes in the middle.

The fact that the group have taken enormous trouble over the mixing of this album is not, in itself, remarkable in this age of quad, flash, and total theatre; what is remarkable, however, is their choice of mixes for.

At almost every point they have avoided the easy drama or conventional felicities most bands would be content with in favour of a sound-balance faithful to what’s actually been played – including the odd bomb here and there. And it’s in no way a literal proposition either.

This album embodies a creative reinterpretation of what a conventional rock-group should sound like in the studios, a tour-de-force of timbre and rhythm that, in the days of synthesizers and electronics, single-handedly reinstates credibility to the natural sound.

Bands lacking the technical know-how or simple inclination to set off in the direction Faust have indicated should bend an attentive ear to King Crimson. There’s a lot to be learned.

Whether you see the album as the group do – a sequence of vivid contrasts of design and sound-quality – or, like me, hear a still slightly uneasy meeting of two extremes, there’s no denying the force of the transition from the harsh intensity of Fripp City (’Easy Money’) to the windy African grassland on the outskirts of Muirsville (’The Talking Drum’).

In terms of personality, Larks’ Tongues In Aspic is throughout a respectful tension between Fripp The Composer and Muir The Performer, though to limit either to one function would be to miss the point.

Particularly outstanding from Fripp in his role as group architect are the two parts of the title track which open and close the album, the latter with its elaborately-engineered crescendoes and decrescendoes, the former with its complex and almost classical concept of organisation – echoing, dare I say it, the feel of a symphonic opening movement.

Fripp’s guitar is in the foreground to fine effect on ’Easy Money’ and runs ingeniously backwards during a brief passage on ’Book Of Saturdays’, but impresses most in the textural role, either snarling atmospherically around in the distance or chipping in as a third percussion voice.

Muir features brilliantly in his own right on a couple of tracks, but his introductions to ’Larks’ Tongues Part One’, ’The Talking Drum’, and ’Exiles’ are superb extempore compositions in themselves – particularly the last of these, performed on glass tubing.

David Cross’s violin is far more effective on record than it is, at present, onstage; both sections of ’Larks’ Tongues’ contain excellent solos from him, the quiet ’Interlude’ from the first part really standing out.

As for Bruford and Wetton, the unity and solidarity of these six performances is entirely in their hands and they don’t put a foot wrong, even throwing in some tricksy Yes-type unison work on the already complex verse of ’Easy Money’.

If there are drawbacks to this record they lie (at least for me) in the two ballads which close side one. The group obviously see them as valid contrast, apart from liking them as songs; my view is that they come over as anomalous throw-backs to an earlier, and entirely different, band.

I’m prepared to admit that this criticism merely reveals a personal blind-spot, and certainly fans of the previous versions of King Crimson will find ’Exiles’ and ’Book Of Saturdays’ the most immediately accessible of the new numbers – but the mix on the former is a little weedy anyway, and the violin sounds slightly out of tune. Nor am I overfond of the lyrics, but there aren’t that many of them so I won’t complain.

Larks’ Tongues In Aspic is a challenging record, but it’s rewards are very substantial, even if you’d have to be an odd mixture of a person to like it all without reservation. Final verdict: a classic of its kind and worth every penny of the asking price.

You know, I think old Crimso’s onto a winner here."

EXPOSURE
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Thu., Mar 19, 2015
Proving that it is impossible to achieve the promo without suffering, here's the rarely seen 1979 promo film made for Exposure available legally for the first time on Youtube. 


David Cross: Starless Starlight
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Thu., Mar 19, 2015
David Cross has a new album out in May entitled Starless Starlight. The album is based upon the short melody composed by David Cross and Robert Fripp that emerged as one of the key themes of King Crimson’s Starless from the final ’70s studio album, Red

The tune resurfaced in two improvisations performed and recorded by Fripp at Blueberry Hill, St Louis in 2006. These recordings and the theme itself were then transformed by David Cross (and co-producer Tony Lowe) into the album Starless Starlight.

There’s an album launch event taking place on May 26th at The Bedford, 77 Bedford Hill, Balham, London, £10 advance / £12 on the door which opens at 7.30 p.m.

Cross will be joined by Yumi Hara (The Artaud Beats), David Jackson (ex-Van der Graaf Generator) and Tony Lowe (Producer Guitarist) who will be performing new versions of music from this album and, in keeping with the spirit of this venture, will individually and collectively devise, compose and otherwise create original new interpretations of the Starless theme.



Starless Starlight is available for preorder here.




Daevid Allen - Moonchild Tribute
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Wed., Mar 18, 2015
Orlando Allen has recorded and released a version of Moonchild by way of a tribute to his late father and founder of Gong, Daevid Allen, who died last week. You can also read my obituary of Allen over at Prog magazine website.   


Cross & Keeling's Spring Fever!
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Wed., Mar 18, 2015
David Cross and Andrew Keeling are performing in London this month.



For full details of the event, venue and how to get there click here.

King Crimson 2015: Additional Dates!
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Tue., Mar 17, 2015
Additional dates have been added to King Crimson’s UK and European dates later this year. They are: 
Saturday 12th Sept The Lowry, Salford
Tuesday 15th Sept Symphony Hall, Birmingham
Friday 18th Sept Usher Hall, Edinburgh

Tickets go on sale Friday, 20th March 2015 at 9.00 a.m. via Livenation and  venue box offices.



Wetton's Positive Message
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Tue., Mar 17, 2015
John Wetton talks about Asia and the positive messages he likes to put into his music in this interview. It's been a busy time for John who has working with Eddie Jobson on UK's final tour and a German 'Rock Meets Classic' orchestral arena tour in the offing. This month also sees the release of a two-disc anthology, The Studio Recordings, which provides an overview of John's solo career. Check out the details here. Also this month comes New York Minute - a live album recorded at the Iridium club in New York with John and the Les Paul Trio covering a mix of his own songs and some of his favourites by other artists including Steely Dan, The Beatles, Hendrix, Brian Wilson, etc. Details can be found here.


Guitar Circle Introduction USA
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Tue., Mar 17, 2015
Robert Fripp will be directing another Guitar Circle course in June. Aimed at beginner and intermediate level, it will commence on June 8th in New Jersey. Check out out the website for all details on how to apply for a place on the course and what will be covered.


Mister Stormy's Monday Selection
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Mon., Mar 16, 2015
There's only ever been one track available from the pre-ProjeKcts undertaking that was Radical Dance. Until today! 


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