Love Hz: King Crimson’s Discipline in 5.1: I Like It! (And You Will Too!)

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King Crimson, Discipline, Robert Fripp, Bill Bruford, Adrian Belew, Tony Levin

“This is how the music was meant to sound. Ace. Stunning. El fab. I am too-muched by it all. And other superlatives.”
Robert Fripp, June 27, 2011 (from liner notes to the 40th Anniversary reissue of King Crimson’s Discipline album)

Wow, what else can I add possibly that Mssr. Fripp hasn’t so eloquently summarized in his diary and accompanying disc liner notes?

Thursday, 30th June 2011

10:52 Just e-sent to Adrian and Tony

eeeeeeeeeeerghhhhhh! O fellow Crims!

currently here at SAM on dartmoor mastering the new wilson-frippp stereo and 5.1 mixes of Discipline from this monday and tuesday. the stereo mix sounds like the original except with greater clarity, definition and transparency

the 5.1 will produce a golden walnut upon auditory acquaintanceship, such is its wonder-giving properties.

xxx boppin’ bobby

It is exciting to read that Robert Fripp himself is genuinely enthusiastic about this reissue program, and especially the newest offering, a 40th Anniversary remix of his band King Crimson’s seminal album Discipline. But what can I offer here as both reviewer and longtime, hardcore fan? Well, perhaps some perspective will help the aspiring Fripp-o-phile or simply the curious fan who has not followed the evolution of this sound as closely as I have.

King Crimson, 1981 Publicity Still, Robert Fripp, Adrian Belew, Bill Bruford, Tony LevinIn 1981, an album was released by a new incarnation of an influential “progressive rock” band from the ’70s, a band that arguably can retain the crown for creating a new genre of music that merged hard rock, classical, jazz, and avante garde musical experimentation into a unified whole (in 1969 with its groundbreaking release In The Court of The Crimson King).

The band has had a long history of morphing and revising its sound from the jazzier period in 1972 to the proto-heavy metal power trio of the 1974 Red-era of the band. Seven years had passed since the breakup of the 1974 Crimson, a time during which its leader, Robert Fripp, had embarked on numerous side projects and sessions, including continuing work begun in 1972 with Brian Eno, writing and recording his first solo album (which some regard as the “Sgt. Pepper of punk“), producing records for Daryl Hall, Peter Gabriel, and others, assembling his post-punk/pre-New Wave band The League of Gentleman (which included ex-XTC keyboardist Barry Andrews), and making numerous notable guest appearances (including on Talking Heads’ Fear of Music and David Bowie’s Heroes album).

I got turned onto Brian Eno’s work in college. My fascination with Robert Fripp’s playing and guitar sound innovations began there (particularly on the album Another Green World). A friend who was into Frank Zappa (one of my other heroes) also knew of the old King Crimson and he played me albums like Red and Lark’s Tongues in Aspic and Fripp’s Exposure (which in some ways foreshadowed Discipline and later works from the new incarnation of the Crimson band). I was introduced to Peter Gabriel’s work because of Fripp (who produced his second album and appeared on the first one along with future King Crimson bassist Tony Levin). From there I got into Fripp’s “Frippertronics” work. And from all this I became a huge fan of Adrian Belew (but that is another story entirely)

So I was primed for more new Fripp. But I wasn’t prepared for the rush of hearing this new sound Fripp put forth on the new album Discipline, with its funky, punky, rocky, rolly rhythms that were in one breath one part New Wave à la Talking Heads, one part Parliament Funkadelic, one part jazz avante garde minimalist improvisation. This music was weird, yet melodic. You could dance to it, tap your toe and sing along with its strange and clipped lyrics. Yet there was nothing easy about this music. The best records pull you in and reveal their riches in repeated listens. This is one of those recordings.

Suddenly, the work of the 80s-era Grateful Dead (another band I love for its improvisational prowess) seemed terribly passé (even though I will always be a fan). Everything new got judged against this record, which raised the bar for what pop music could be — thinking person’s music you can dance to. What a concept!

A few years ago, Fripp started plotting the 40th anniversary reissue series in conjunction with the current grand wizard of surround sound, Steve WIlson (leader of the band Porcupine Tree). The initial releases in the series were spectacular (such as the landmark first album), revelatory (especially the reinvention of their much misunderstood 2nd and 3rd LPs, Lizard and In Wake of Poseidon), and rocking (1974’s Red is really a masterpiece that could be considered “heavy metal” in a heartbeat). But I was eagerly waiting the release of Discipline.

Here we are with it in hand and I can’t say enough about it — or any more than Robert Fripp already said in his enthusiastic liner notes. So perhaps it’s best if I just recap some of what you’ll hear on this fabulous reissue:

The entire album remixed in 96kHz/24-bit resolution stereo and 5.1 surround sound by Wilson and Fripp on DVD-Audio Disc (if you don’t have a DVD-A capable player, don’t worry: the disc will play on any DVD player and give you the surround mixes in DTS 5.1 surround).

The entire album in its earlier 2003 30th anniversary remix.

An early rough mix featuring Fripp’s original running order of the music and different textures.

A few wonderful video clips from early 1981 performances on the BBC and Old Grey Whistle Test. Really incredible camera work, with so-appropriate close ups on Fripp’s fretboard.

A nice CD with a lovely updated 2011 mix (that is fuller and clearer than my earlier UK import CD on EG).

Again, as Robert Fripp summarized so perfectly: “This is how the music was meant to sound. Ace. Stunning. El fab. I am too-muched by it all. And other superlatives.”

Get this reissue and others in the series at Amazon or direct from Fripp via his Discipline Global Mobile company and Burning Shed.

Here is a great performance from the short lived TV show Fridays (which is unfortunately not on the reissue disc).

A nice clean (albeit mono) copy of this performance can be found on the reissue:

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