Level Five

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Originally released: 2001
Taken from various performances during the Summer 2001 tour in the USA and Mexico.


  • Robert Fripp (guitar)
  • Adrian Belew (guitar, vocals)
  • Trey Gunn (warr guitar)
  • Pat Mastelotto (drumming)



Music by King Crimson. Words by Adrian Belew.

  • 5'38 Dangerous Curves
  • 8'35 Level Five
  • 10'00 Virtuous Circle
  • 8'23 The ConstruKction Of Light
  • 6'41 The Deception of The Thrush => Reviews
  • 5'25 Improv: ProjeKct 12th and X (Hidden Track)


Reviews are listed in chronological order within each section. Please retain a chronological order when adding new reviews.

Entire Release

Date Submitted: 18-Jan-02
By: (sjwilson at sjwilson dot supanet dot com)

"Bought Level 5 from DGM and turned up from the USA within a week. - Disc No 3991.

"I wasn't sure what to expect as from the postings on ET I was under the impression that KC had gone all heavy so it was strange to hear Level 5 as it was not what I expected at all. Of course as a UK fan of KC (and I live in the next county to where RF was raised) I don't expect to actually ever see KC play live in my lifetime!

"Dangerous Curves - This grew on me after the 3rd listen but I can't help thinking it sounded like the soundtrack to a Sony Playstation game - one involving dark & satanic goings-on!! - Maybe a new area Mr Fripp could consider if movie soundtracks are out of the question. - Turn the lights down please... in fact turn them off.

"Level Five - More music from the ante-chamber to Hell - Felt a bit ponderous and Sabbathy to start but has slowly grown on me as I've started to understand its structure.

"Virtuous Circle - Must admit I prefer my KC listening to have structure - I found this a bit noodling along - a bit of a filler.

"The ConstruKction Of Light - I'm a huge fan of duel guitars - I only spotted one mistake.

"The Deception of The Thrush - Not the best version of this ong I've heard

"Improv: ProjeKct 12th and X (Hidden Track) - see comments for Virtuous Circle

"Don't know why US subscribers are complaining as I found this CD to be excellent value - Or maybe it's because I live in "rip-off" Britain."

Date Submitted: 7-Feb-02
By: Michael Adashefski (oingoboingo100 at 25earthlink dot net)

"The recent live albums by King Crimson are getting better and better, both in sound and performance. Heavy ConstruKction was an excellent example of the current line up and had great sound, but the sound mix on Level 5 blows that album away by a few miles. The overall effect is of the band playing in your room, not a bad idea if you don't mind a re-arrangement of your personal architecture.

"The new pieces give a fine glimpse into the next album's offerings and show that Crimson is again forging some new ground. There is a bit of reflection on past themes as the ghost of Mars is invoked very subtly but not without new textures added so as not to dwell completely on the past. All of the musicians display their usual virtuosity and the humorous comments at the beginning of the cd show that the King is not beyond laughing at itself sometimes.

"All in all this is a great disc and I am sad for those who missed the opportunity to get a copy. My only complaint is that it's too short!"

Date Submitted: 16-Feb-02
By: Graham Nelson (graham at gnelson dot demon dot co dot uk)

"Robert Fripp likes to say that albums are love letters, concerts are hot dates; he also sends teasing postcards, full of promise of what's to come. Pursuing the analogy, King Crimson is the long-time girlfriend, sometimes deserted just when things were going so well, never forgotten, that he seems now to have finally decided to marry. But even if the band is in semi-regular business these days, new music by them is always a relief as well as a jolt of adrenaline.

"After playing this sampler of an unfinished new album a few times, I went back to the original VROOOM EP for comparison. It lacks production polish, a coda here and a bridge there, but you can clearly hear the backbone of the THRAK album on it. So, here, the three new tracks are essentially finished (while the improv, like VROOOM's "When I Say Stop, Continue", won't be going any further). We continue the trend of "The ConstruKction of Light" towards loud, percussively thumping marches up and down hypnotic themes, moved out of the electric guitar's register and down into the pitch of the bass and "stick". Gunn is in excellent form and they sound remarkably together. So, once again, the four-piece lineup have a massively firm bass presence (they must sound awesome on stage) while lacking the range of instruments and styles of the double trio. Synthesiser sounds cheapen quickly and I sometimes think I've heard all of Belew's too many times. That said, "Virtuous Circle" breaks out into gamelan-like percussion and synthesised violin making it, in places, vaguely reminiscent of "Larks' Tongues In Aspic". And the track "Level Five" is distinctly 1995 in style, from a whopping great descending staircase of an opening arpeggio to bang! bang-bang! bang-bang-BANG-bang-bang! barrages. (Fripp's composition is, I think, like that of Yes, influenced a lot more by early Stravinsky than by the usually cited Bartok string quartets.) At any rate there's a real sense of continuity here. When "Nuovo Metal", as it's to be called, comes out, we shall have had two Crimson albums in a row in the same style.

"Adrian Belew, perhaps the only man on the American stage ever to compare himself to a piece of lint on the penis of an alien, sings only on a live recording (this whole disc is live, but with audience edited out) of "The ConstruKction of Light". He sounds breathless, caught up in the excitement of the piece. All the same this mini-album lacks a melodic track of the beauty of, say, "One Time", which concluded the VROOOM EP. Belew's contribution to the band seems to be moving ever more deeply into the instrumental, and there's no denying his talent for it. But I want to hear him sing, and carry an ethereal melody above the bass of the band. On the last album one only heard this, really, on the surprisingly poignant and affecting Coda to "Larks' Tongues In Aspic Part IV". And I like his collage lyrics, and think he has something to say.

"The album officially winds up with an encore version of "The Deception of the Thrush". I don't think there's any Crimson track I've been more wrong about than this one. I really didn't have a great deal of affection for the voluminous ProjeKct discs of fiddling around with touch-drums in Mr Belew's front room. They may well have been important to the development of the band, and helped Fripp make his mind up to drop Bruford and Levin from the band (and so return to his 1993-4 conception of a four-piece band emerging from the underrated experiments with David Sylvian). But the actual music was, however accomplished and listenable, bland and unachieved; wallpaper by the former members of King Crimson. This track was the exception, but it took me a long time to see it. The idea of sampling T. S. Eliot reading "The Waste Land", cutting it up and rearranging the bits in random order against a synthesised landscape sounds, frankly, the sort of thing geeky adolescents do for art projects. And yet... the second half has a marvellous processional serenity to it, of the sort Fripp sometimes does hauntingly well. It reminds me of my secretly favourite 80s Crimson number, "Nuages".

"The hidden improv at the end of the disc is a nice bonus and, if Crimson improvs are not exactly Fabergé eggs, they're still somehow collectable. Mostly they don't quite come off; sometimes they do. But that's the whole point. The fact that the band generally play an improv or two in each concert makes the listener (or this one, anyway) feel like a participant in something evolving, something new. It's not like hearing the grizzled survivors of a once-great act run through their back catalogue note-perfect. (I saw The Supremes not long ago; Mari Wilson still has a lot of soul, but I don't believe the thirty or so musicians on stage even once played a note they hadn't played identically every day for the previous decade.) At their best, even tiny improvs give you memories that last longer than the songs. The double-trio didn't improvise on stage so much, but I once saw Bruford and Levin determinedly playing different time signatures from each other, staring each other out in an I-dare-you sort of way, as the rest of the band looked on deeply amused.

"With all these caveats entered, what it comes down to is: if you're a Crimson fan, rejoice. They're a working band again. More than that, they're still adding to their reputation."

Date Submitted: 3-Mar-02
By: Naji Chmayssani (bn083203 at belgacom dot net)

"Just received my copy of Level Five and heard it about 3 or 4 times. My first impressions:

"- Dangerous Curves and Virtuous Circle: If these are examples of the new sound for the next KC album, then I think I'll probably be worried. They seem to be moving into "lounge" music or whatever it is called. I felt Bjork was about to burst into song at any moment on these tracks. However I'm sure I'll probably get over my initial shock and like them for what they are at a later stage, because they are good.

"- Level Five: Continuation of the instrumental tracks on TCOL. It sounds like a pale imitation of Lark's Tongues part 4, but lacks its richness. (again these are only first impressions). However it is probably 10 times better than most of the crap found in the shops these days.

"- ConstruKction Of Light: Better version than on the studio album and on Heavy ConstruKction. Worth putting it here. The boys are now extremely confident with this material and are playing it with spine chilling tightness and precision. Bravo

"- Deception of the Thrush. Again the boys are now playing around with this very dark and intense piece. Also a version worth investing your money in. Another bravo."

Date Submitted: 11-Apr-02
By: Levan Tsulukidze (sandino1969 at hotmail dot com)

""Level Five" one of my favorite live release from King Crimson,maybe one of the best live cd to date. Performance is fantastic, music is mind provoking and sound is astounding. All tracks are superb, but begining with a "Dangerous Curves" is somthing very exciting and powerfull, I found some familiar sounds from old King Crimson releases in the end of this track. "Level Five"- the track means a lot to me and impro' on it is 100% King Crimson. "ConstruKction Of Light" is material that taken from the latest King Crimson album, but this one is more excelent and interesting, such as "Deception of the Thrush". The "Level Five" much interesting album with a hidden track. This EXCELENT and PERFECT CD lives in my Bang & Olufsen Overture music system with me."

Date Submitted: 25-Apr-02
By: Ian Stubbs (IanEStubbs at aol dot com)

"Once again the Crims come up trumps. When I first heard this album I was startled by the simplicity of some of the new material. Diminished 7th chord bases for an entire piece, stacatto rhythms on a 'melody' of three notes. But it works!

"Trey Gunn is a worthy successor to Tony Levin with a killer bass sound (but doesn't he get confused between being a bass player and a lead instrument after the ProjeKcts work?) I find I'm listening more and more to the improvisations of the last 5 years than I am to the studio material, even on Heavy ConstruKction, so this is a welcome addition.

"My only confusion is the hidden track. I've seen a couple of titles for it, a suggestion that Japanese releases have a different track altogether, and finally what' sthe point of having them in the first place? Can't wait for the next exciting episode of 'King Crimson!'"

Date Submitted: 11-May-02
By: Jean-Michel (jmg.music at wanadoo dot fr)

"I must confess that this is the first KC album made on the DGM label I really dislike.
"First, there are more than fifteen minutes who are mixed in mono !!
"Second, the improv doesn't seem very inspired.
"Third, the Deception of the Thrush song is the worst version I've heard on all the KC albums till that date.
"Last but least, now that the KCCC 19 is out, this CD seems a bit out of time.
"But the only reason you can buy it is the somptuous Construkction of Light version, better than the studio and the Heavy Construkction and Nashville live releases.
"So, is a lonely song worth buying it ?
"You can be judge..."

The Deception of The Thrush

Date Submitted: 17-Jan-02
By: Bob Towler (RLTOWLER at aol dot com)

"On the Level:

"I think that this version of Thrush is the One. Trey is the smoking Gunn that Crimson fans have been looking for. His solo makes me want to smile and cry at the same time.

"Thrush has matured IMHO after all the Thrak-attacking with the various ProjeKct incarnations and this song benefits from the more structured group format. I wonder what a Sax would do to this song."