THRAK - Reviews
Reviews are listed in chronological order within each section. Please retain a chronological order when adding new reviews.
Date Submitted: 9-Apr-96
By: Gur Ilany (ilany at actcom dot co dot il)
"You expect something new and get a magnificent combination of '90s and '70s progressive rock. Every track gives new excitement, from the very beginning."
Date Submitted: 27-Apr-96
By: Tim Foster (FosDesign at aol dot com)
"Crimson returns! THRAK is an exciting album on many levels. The new double trio boasts a harder, intense sound than their predecessors. Gone are the Fripp arpeggios, the distinctive stick phrases and the melodic synth drum lines. But don't fret. The new Crimson boasts several new weapons. Fripp's Soundscapes pick up where Frippertronics left off. As Fripp has said "Its still the best way to make a hell of a lot of noise with a guitar". The drumming tandem of Bruford and Pat Mastelotto provides some of the most intricate polyrhythmic work I've ever heard. (Think back to the days of Jamie Muir!) And Trey Gunn adds a new dimension to the bass section (if it can still be called that) by duetting with Tony Levin in unheard of ways. The newness and freshness of the lineup shows itself off in such tracks as "Dinosaur" with Lennon-esque vocals courtesy of Adrian, and the positively funky beat of "People". The band looks back in its past too. "VROOOM" continues the tradition of the great Fripp instrumentals (even including a discarded piece of "Red" in the reprise "VROOOM VROOOM"), while "Walking on Air" recalls "Exiles" in its middle section. There are challenges on this album though. "THRAK" and the "VROOOM" codas take some getting used to. If one can bear the noise long enough, there are rewards to be found in these tracks, but its tough going. "Inner Garden" (I and II) seem to take up space; while they're pleasant enough, the suspicion is that they are nice little sketches that didn't become fully realized songs. But these are minor quibbles, and the album on a whole is exciting, adventurous and full of musical journeys that go to places that only King Crimson dare goes. And B'Boom is positively the best track on the album."
Date Submitted: 31-Jul-96
By: Bill Nicholas (newguy at buttercup dot cybernex dot net)
"This is a long, winding, wonderful album. Crimson are back, and they rock, hard.
"Sure, it is not the most tight, cohesive work in the world. But if people would stop analyzing and sit down with a pair of headphones, I would challenge them to find an entire Crimson album-- as opposed to flashes of brilliance within an album (Red, 21st Cen. Asbury Park)--that gets the blood pumping harder.
"I must admit as an avid fan--from Cheerful Insanity to THRaKaTTack-- that I got scared in late '94 when I heard that VROOM ep. The band used too many electronic treatments on the instruments and obscured the raw power of the music. But THRAK more than makes up.
"Fripp , in Rolling Stone in 1993, openly admired bands like Nirvana and Living Color, and that shows here. Not since '69 has KC been such a fantastically dangerous machine. "Dinosaur" is the perfect blend of polish and balls. "Vroom" is high intensity thrash and as connected to the present as any Nirvana rip-off band (which KC assuredly is not) you care to mention. If this is a piece of what's to come, I've got my Mastercard hot and ready.
"In an age where "reunions" are bald men releasing out-takes and doing those golden oldies yet again, KC slam back with a vengeance and tower over them all.
"Let's just hope they don't break up next year. ****1/2"
Date Submitted: 1-Aug-96
By: Lizzie Shand (lizzie at shand dot reo dot dec dot com)
"THIS is simply one of the best bit's of music I've heard for AGES!!!!!!!! Well done and THANKYOU to KC!"
Date Submitted: 24-Aug-96
By: Chris Anderson (chanders at indiana dot edu)
"For me, one of the most pleasant things about this album is in the synthesis of old and new ideas. It seems that King Crimson (I would say Mr. Fripp, but I know he'd disapprove) has finally managed to come to grips with it's past while still maintaining it's drive to the future. With each rebirth of KC, there seems to be a deliberate distancing from all past ideas of previous incarnations. This is good, as one need only look at a group like Yes to see an example of musical stagnation. However, I have always the vague feeling that KC was in reality 3 totally different bands with their only binding factor being the presence of Robert Fripp.
"The 90's incarnation (and THRAK) is different. We see nods to the power of the 70's KC in instrumentals like VROOM, VROOM VROOM and THRAK. We can see traces of the discipline band in songs like Dinosaur, People, and esp. Sex Sleep Eat... We even have the presence of the mellotron, of all things, not seen in a crimson album since 1974!
"When Red, Lark's Tongue Part II, and Schizoid Man are now played live, this feeling becomes complete. I'm not saying that I want Crimso to turn into another "Greatest Hits Dinosaur Band", nor am I saying that THRAK isn't original and inventive. What I AM saying is that it's nice to see something in KC that has been missing ever since the original broke up in 1969- continuity."
Date Submitted: 29-Jun-97
By: Marianne Sallum (animacao at ruralsp dot com dot br)
"How could David Bottril take six musicians and make them sound smaller than John Wetton's bass? Please, never do any business with this man again. His work should be confined to Peter Gabriel albums only. See what he did to Tool, a band with formerly no songs and a massive sound: now they have nothing. Get some heavy metal producer, or Steve Albini. You've got the music, but the point did not come across a millionth of what it deserved to. Terry Date might be a good bet, even though his last works were kind of tasteless. I truly believe this album didn't get none of the attention it deserved due to it's weak sound. The band's noble intentions of getting a Rock'n Roll Crimso going were squashed by that. Please, PLEASE don't do it again."
Date Submitted: 4-Jan-98
By: Hadert von Dicke (5107 at inf dot tsu dot tomsk dot su)
"A kind of ordinary rocking album (though far from ordinary in quality). Here is the story:
"There lived a great painter who once went to a journey to some far and mysterious land and has been absent for 10 years. Then he returned and found in his native country a community of the young painters. And they told him:"Hey man, you've been far away for such a long time, come see we invented a lot of new stuff: paints and brushes, and a new kind of expressing yourself by moving the brush on the canvas!" And the great painter leaned on their paintings, then took their new tools and a clear canvas. And did paint. Hell, he did these new things thirty times better than these young guys! Every touch of his brush showed some new abilities of the young guys' palettes. Don't you know what is it about?
"Yes, the King proved the ability of playing in any style perfectly. I can even compare the band with the leading academicial ones. Hence here's a burning wish, I hope the band will read this and the fans will accept my idea, which is: why not cover some avant-garde (beginning with, say, Bartok and up to, maybe, Stockhausen)? Now the opportunities are wider ("the new palettes") and the band is welcome to show all its innovative approach, applying it to covering the classics. Please think over, it might be interesting to you!"
Date Submitted: 14-Jul-98
By: Stuart Allison (wallison at pnc dot com dot au)
"Funky-Metal, beautiful ballads, intelligent pop, ad lib drum solos and the answers to any question about anything you ever wanted to know. With a beautiful mixture of 90's musical mentality and a few 70's riffs King Crimson turns the calling card they left in the VROOOM ep into a punch in the face.****** out of 5!!"
Date Submitted: 18-Nov-99
By: (mph2 at ukc dot ac dot uk)
"The acknowledged masterpieces of each Crimson incarnation have in the past tended to be the first releases of each (ITCOTCK, LTIA, Discipline). Leaving aside the Vrooom calling card, then, one has to be wary of one's expectations of Thrak, given the pattern created by past precedent, and also by virtue of the astonishingly good products of the Sylvian/Fripp collaboration.
"Thrak gives the impression that it was hurriedly 'filled up' at the last moment with sundry odds and ends. It reminds of me of the other "good but not classic" Crimson albums which contained much passable material but which lacked the internal coherence or innovation necessary to transform the material into something stratospheric (I am thinking here especially of In The Wake Of Poseidon).
"So what do I get for my money?
"I get four songs that I've heard before on Vrooom. One is obviously a much better version (oddly enough, Vrooom), one is obviously inferior (reciprocally oddly, Thrak). I prefer the Vrooom version of One Time, too; it doesn't have the thunb-twiddlingly irrelevant middle section, nor does it have that disruptive 'Hello, I'm here' flourish from Levin which spoils the otherwise achingly poignant end of the chorus.
"If I want solo Fripp soundscapes, I'll buy them; to put two on a Crimson album diminishes them into interludes and the band into a conglomeration of its constituent parts.
"Of the new material, call me weird but I like Walking On Air most. I'm a sucker for ballads, and this is an exquisite and delicate one. It was perfect as a final encore when I saw Crimson at the Albert Hall - the concert's over, you're going home, but you've still got "Close your eyes and look at me, I'll be standing by your side" in your head. Yum. Give me Walking On Air over Vrooom Vrooom any day. Good, but too reminiscent of earlier triumphs from bygone days. Love the trippy coda, though - again very similar to the Wake of Poseidon album. People is excellent, bar the dumb lyrics. It sounds like they were trying to write a Chili-Peppersy hit single, and then suddenly remembered they were King Crimson and didn't do such things half way through. B'Boom and Inner Garden make good showcases for the possibilities of two drummers and the new standard tuning respectively, but they also make an already bitty album even more bitty. Dinosaur works as a kind of skewed synthesis of the writing and musical talents of all of the double trio, as well as being Belew's most unashamed self-plug so far as a possible replacement for you-know-who should The Beatles ever reform.
"Fripp interestingly backgrounds himself on this album. Much of what sounds like Fripp is actually Gunn or Belew. A reasonable thing to do, given that the double trio live has a tendency to sound like loud cluttered mush, whereas in the past Crimson muscularity has been offset by delicate instruments such as flute and violin.
"My feelings towards the Thrak album are the same as what I think about the various bits of artwork which accompany it: good on their own, but a bit of a mishmash when you put them all together."
Date Submitted: 1-Mar-00
By: Daniel Pepper (duckeetym at aol dot com)
"When I first bought this album I couldn't stand it. I thought it was a piece of crap and I was horribly upset; believing that the once great King Crimson had fallen. However, I recently heard Three Of A Perfect Pair, an album that really opened up my mind to King Crimson with lots of synthesizers and other instruments that have that "80s sound." I also downloaded a concert from 1996 in Mexico City which had many songs from this album in it.
"I am writing this review as I listen to "One Time". Keep in mind that I have not yet listened to anything on this album that comes after "One Time" since the time I bought this album. I must say that I very much enjoyed everything on this except for "People." I dislike this song because it is too pop-oriented for King Crimson. The "oh-oh's" in the chorus completely disqualify this song from being a legitimate King Crimson song. If it were Rush, it would cut it. However, this is King Crimson, and "People" should not be on this album or any other one with King Crimson's name on it. "Radio I" is another song that I dislike. This is probably because it is so formless and short. I don't understand why this could not have been at the end of "People" or something. What is the point of having a song that is only forty-three seconds long? "Radio II" is also extremely pointless and much too short. And I honestly do not understand why "Inner Garden I" or "Inner Garden II" were not made longer. These are both songs that have interesting lyrics and should have been given more album time to develop. "Sex Sleep Eat Drink Dream" is a great song, much like the whole first six songs.
"Basically, this album is not one of King Crimson's best, but I enjoy it much more than Starless And Bible Black and many instances on Islands. Although there is an absolutely ridiculous creative flavor on it, songs seven, eight, nine, eleven and twelve are awful. I would have frankly enjoyed this album more if they were cut out, even if it meant a rather short album. The idea of having "VROOOM," "VROOOM VROOOM," and "VROOOM VROOOM: Coda" is a great idea. I would best describe this album as a mixture of violin work that sounds like it is from Germany in the 1940s, a factory blowing up, and a Latin easy listening tunes. If this is any indication of whether or not the Crimson King can still cut it, I'm smiling with just a few complaints.
Date Submitted: 11-Oct-02
By: Chris Jones (chris.jones.05 at bbc dot co dot uk)
"By 1995's Thrak, Bruford was back along with other previous members Tony Levin (stick bass and baldness) and Adrian Belew (Beatlesque vocals and equally out-there guitar). However, in true Crimson fashion Fripp's vision of this incarnation (apparently glimpsed while driving through a Wiltshire village) was of a double trio; thus the extra drum and bass of Pat Mastelotto and Trey Gunn. Infinitely more polished, this album also tends to re-hash several older themes ("VROOM" is "Red" made even bigger and harder) while still displaying a band hungry for adventure. They're never content to let a smooth production job take the edge off such behemoths as drum duet "B'Boom" or the harrowing dissonance of the title track. This is all nicely balanced with Belew's tendency to push the band into more standard 'song' mode. Crimson had successfully reinvented themselves for the 90s and continue to do so to this day - always more than 'prog', 'art' or any label you care to place on them."
Date Submitted: 14-Jan-04
By: Scott McFarland (mcfarland at ac-tech dot com)
"I was quite disappointed with this at the time. I prefer the space and musicality of the early 80’s band to the overdriven sound of the “double trio”. In retrospect, there is some quite good material on here, most notably “Dinosaur” and “Sex Sleep Eat Drink Dream”. I don’t think the band format works though."
Date Submitted: 2-Jun-96
By: George Korein (Mopobeans at aol dot com)
"Vrooom is a great machine, finely tuned, pounding away, with bits of serene melodies by Fripp and Levin. Its coda, though only a one-octave descent, seems like it is spiraling down forever."
Date Submitted: 2-Jun-96
By: George Korein (Mopobeans at aol dot com)
"B'Boom is cool- the soundscapes are flowing, the drums are cool and synchronized. However, at that soft soundscape sound at the end, prepare to say good-bye to your eardrums! Thrak (the song) is kind of silly."
Date Submitted: 12-Dec-97
By: Mark Jenkinson (markjenkinson at vut dot edu dot au)
"One Time is a revelation in it's use of latin percussion and spirit guitar, enough inspiration for a whole bands career, let alone one album. I used to think Santana was the master in this territory but KC also have the dimension of intelligently controlled anger to their credit. I Loved finding this album after thinking they had gone the way of all corporate music success stories and wish we Crimso freaks in Australia could be included in an live tour."
Date Submitted: 11-Apr-99
By: Evglena (kiria at nettaxi dot com)
"It's probably the most lyrical KC's song. This beautiful latin melody suplemented by extremely soft vocal of Adrian produces a very unique effect on the listener. It's even more oppressive than 'Starless' actually if we can compare them. The ending part of 'Starless' is very rhythmic and inspiring, so when the song is over we're on the roll and we're full of enthusiasm. Vice versa with 'One Time'. While listening i'm almost crying. The beautiful verses like:One hand is tied
One step gets behind
In one breath we're dying
Date Submitted: 4-Mar-96
By: Stefano Pezzuto (pezzuto at le dot infn dot it)
"A timeless moment of sound without music."
Date Submitted: 2-Jun-96
By: George Korein (Mopobeans at aol dot com)
"Vrooom Vrooom is like a cross between Vrooom and Red. The machine is still pounding away, but the way it's written feature unusual countermelodies that make it sound like the machine like it's deteriorating. Finally, the final coda has the machine spraying hydraulic oil and blowing fuse and shattering gears, courtesy of the disorienting patterns and Belew's guitar, which make you see from the perspective of a dying animal, writhing and groaning helplessly as its vision clouds up."