I was about to order the new King Crimson-inspired Projekct from Robert Fripp’s DGM website, but then I saw it in the racks at Amoeba Music and purchased it on the spot without reading any of the info on it. Trusting it would be interesting, I know that Fripp wouldn’t have gone to the trouble of issuing the album in a deluxe CD+DVD-A format (including high resolution surround sound mixes!) if there wasn’t something special inside.
In fact, what we get is a lovely (yes, lovely) addition to the Fripp/Crimson landscape that somehow serves as a sort of grand mash up of most everything Fripp has worked on over the years. I mean this in a good way.
From the DGM website we learn: “When Robert Fripp & Jakko Jakszyk got together in February 2009 neither expected that their initial sessions of guitar-only improvisations would result in a full-blown album, or that it would ultimately be deemed to be a King Crimson projekct. As the material from those first sessions developed it was obviously becoming much wider in scope and scale. The arrival of sax player & former King Crimson member, Mel Collins, added further colour & texture to the emerging songs. The line-up was completed with the addition of bassist Tony Levin and Porcupine Tree’s drummer, Gavin Harrison (both members of the 2008 incarnation of King Crimson) adding their parts to the material in their respective studios.”
The first thing that hit me as I listened to the lush 5.1 surround sound mix from the 96 kHz / 24-bit DVD-Audio disc was that this was indeed clearly a Crimson event. Only it sounded initially like the earliest of Crimson incarnations at its root. It wasn’t just the presence of saxophonist Mel Collins (who played in King Crimson as far back as the band’s second LP in 1970 and through to mid 1972) adding some of that old early Crimson sound…. Nor that guitarist, vocalist, and co-songwriter Jakko Jakszyk has a voice that sounds not unlike Greg Lake, Boz Burrell and John Wetton (for that matter) all of whom sang on many of those early Crimson recordings… or that Fripp was reaching back into his bag of tricks to a time when he placed his searing electric guitar textures alongside plaintive acoustic sounds (Starless from Red comes to mind). Fripp’s signature elongated notes (and repetitive minimalist note-cycles — which reached fruition in the ’80s Discipline era version of KC) intertwine with the more ambient “soundscapes” he has been creating in the last 10 years or so, combining to create a rather lush presentation that is… well… rather musical!
You have to be something of a Fripp-o-phile to understand this, but there are fans of each style of Fripp’s playing and not all the fans overlap in their enthusiasm for one another. Some who love the groove-based Rubik’s Cube-like interplay of the ’80s Crimson may loathe the later pastiches Fripp laid down. Some yearn for the mid-’70s Fripp, whose playing could get so off the hinges your teeth would bleed. Likewise, some bow down to the his “Frippertronics” looping experiments of the ’70s and early ’80s. Some miss the gentle tones of his softer tunes like “Moonchild,” or the majestic acoustic grandeur of his League of Crafty Guitarists: 18 Fripp-trained musicians playing Fripp-inspired music all on similar guitars, simultaneously — quite astounding!).
The point is, he’s seemingly brought many — if not all, I’m still listening and finding new things in the recording — of those elements together to create songs and sounds that are fresh and yet at once comforting and familiar.
EZ listening for aging Glam rockers?
No, its much more than that.