Exposé Online banner

David Cross — Testing to Destruction
(Inside Out Music IOM 001, 1994, CD)

by Rob Walker, 1995-03-01:

Testing to Destruction Cover art Violinist David Cross is known to many for his work in the 70s with King Crimson. Less conspicuous have been a few more recent solo albums. His latest, Testing to Destruction, finds Cross fronting a five-piece band and playing some scorching heavy prog. There are some traces of Crimson influence in the sound, mainly in the dark and ominous moods highlighted by tritone intervals and modal scales, and in a few free-form, sound effects laden improvisations. Somewhat of a prog-metal sensibility permeates much of the album, as evidenced by the heavy rhythm guitar, the burning lead guitar solos, and the driving rhythm section. The music itself is sort of a mixed bag. Half of the tracks sport vocals, and the vocal sections tend to be weaker; fairly basic musical accompaniment to albeit solid vocals with occasionally cheesy lyrics, delivered in a rather heavy metal-ish style. But in between the vocal sections are some great incendiary instrumental breaks. Aggressive riffs provide a foundation for some fine soloing from the keyboards and guitar. Other parts of the album are more mellow and contemplative, featuring Cross' excellent violin work in a more unstructured context. Cross does a good job of sharing the spotlight with the rest of the band, and when the music allows them to, they can all deliver some spirited and driving performances. Of the nine tracks here most of them have their moments, and there is only one real throw-away tune, thankfully a fairly short one. Overall this is a slightly better than mediocre release; the instrumental sections are generally strong, but the vocal sections are closer to unspectacular neo-prog with a slight pop flair.

by Mike Ohman, 1995-03-01:

This album is the answer to the question, "Whatever happened to that guy who used to play violin in King Crimson?" Don't get your hopes up, though, Larks' Tongues it ain't. I really hated this album upon first listening. Further listens revealed redeeming qualities, still, there are intensely unlikable moments which may have you reaching for the "Skip" button. Testing for Destruction is somewhat closer in style to UK than King Crimson. But while bassist John Dillon is a dead ringer for John Wetton vocally, it's clear that Cross is no Eddie Jobson. Neither is keyboardist Sheila Maloney, but she is a talented player in her own right — not of Jobson's calibre, but certainly one of the more aurally pleasing aspects of what's offered (though the off-key synth-squeals on "Learning Curve" never fail to make me ill). Guitarist Paul Clark clearly has heavy-metal aspirations, what with the chug-chug chordage and piercing delivery. In fact, Cross has begun to put his violin into overdrive, adding to the heavy-metal atmosphere. I find this to be one of the more irritating aspects of this album. Add to this obnoxious lyrics like "The working class can kiss my ass," the likes of which I thought had died with the "new-wave" 80s. As a result, the vocal tunes are often like a dose of bitter medicine, at least in the first half. There are a couple of much nicer vocal tunes on the second half. "Tripwire," despite more lame lyrics, sports a nifty, infectious violin line. The lengthy "Abo" adds a patina of "world music" to the sound with prominent percussion and droning, didjeridu-like synth, and makes tentative steps toward a distinctive style. The instrumental tracks are often soured by perhaps the only tendency picked up from King Crimson, the free-form improv. Had this group been tighter, these might be more engaging, as it is, they seem to go nowhere awfully fast. The exception is "Cycle Logical," which builds a pulsing texture of guitar and synth, providing the ideal setting for Cross' solo. Had there been more songs like this, I'd be more satisfied with this album. The good moments of this album are unfortunately canceled out by dreadful ones. As a result, the album is as a whole rather mediocre. Therefore, this is only of real interest to King Crimson fanatics. But with King Crimson's surprisingly excellent Vrooom now readily available, expect this one to go deservedly overlooked.

by Peter Thelen, 1995-03-01:

Cross was, of course, the longtime violinist with King Crimson Mk2; I mention this first because Testing for Destruction bears more in common with that edition of KC than probably either of his two previous solo albums. The disc covers a lot of territory from eccentric hard-rockers to lengthy improvs to heady experimentation, combining the urgency of Starless and Bible Black period KC with the craftiness and tasteful deviance of some of the Canterbury bands (Caravan comes to mind), UK, and even Gong. The tracks are split roughly fifty/fifty between instrumentals and vocals; vocalist/bassist John Dillon being a true chameleon, he sometimes bears more than a passing resemblance to John Wetton, especially on "Tripwire" and opener "Learning Curve," the latter being a hard-rocking ass-kicker with some vague Arabic influences, punctuated by disconnected vocal sections with unusual lyrics. His heavy warble-treated vocals on "The Affable Mr.G" accompany a frantic full-throttle hard-rock led by guitarist Paul Clark, with energized solos for Cross' violin and keyboardist Sheila Maloney. Throughout, Dillon and drummer Dan Maurer handle the bottom end with precision and fervor. The aforementioned Arabic influences are even more evident on two of the more improvisational instrumental pieces "The Swing Arm Disconnects" and "Calamity," the latter sounding like a meeting of "The Talking Drum" and something from Erpland period Ozrics. The last third of the disc moves into a more experimental/improv mode, typified by the title track, and breaks only for the latter part of the closer "Abo," a vocal track featuring samples of didjeridu and indigenous percussion that may remind of Peter Gabriel's Security period. In all, this is a worthwhile album by Cross and his five piece band, a disc that should make an excellent and complementary companion to Vrooom.

Filed under: New releases , Issue 6 , 1994 releases

Related artist(s): David Cross

More info

Latest news

2019-03-20
Freedom to Spend Unearths June Chikuma's Archives – Jun (June) Chikuma is well known for her video game and anime soundtracks, but she also released an album of experimental electronic music back in 1986 called Divertimento where she indulged the kind of spontaneity that wouldn't work in a soundtrack. RVNG Int'l label Freedom to Spend is bringing this overlooked item to broader attention with a deluxe reissue. » Read more

2019-03-03
Seaprog 2019 Lineup Almost Complete – The Seaprog festival in Seattle is scheduled for June 7-9 this year, and they've announced their lineup of performers. The revitalized Trettioåriga Kriget will cap Friday night, perennial favorites Marbin are on Saturday, and District 97 will finish off the fest on Sunday night. In support, they've booked a stellar variety of artists from the Northwest and around the world, including EchoTest, Markus Reuter and Trey Gunn, and the live debut of the amazing Troot project. » Read more

2019-02-21
You Can Be Part of an Ambient Electronic Project – The Gesture of History is a new electronic project put together by Sam Rosenthal of Black Tape for a Blue Girl, Steve Roach, and violist Sam Shadow. The music started as an instrumental track Rosenthal was working on for a Black Tape album, but took on a life of its own and demanded further enhancements. The majority of the funds raised will go to manufacturing costs for LP and CD editions, as well as other items as detailed on the Kickstarter page. » Read more

2019-01-31
Keyboardist Ingo Bischof R.I.P. – Keyboard player Ingo Bischof, best known as the longtime keyboard player of German band Kraan, passed away on January 29th, 2019. Bischof was born January 2, 1951 in Berlin-Kreuzberg and joined Kraan in 1975. » Read more

2019-01-11
Jazz Composer Mark Lomax, II Releases Epic 12CD Set – In addition to being a fine jazz drummer, Dr. Mark Lomax, II is a composer in residence at Ohio State University, where he has been very busy on the compositional front. The year 2019 is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first ship bringing African slaves to North America, and in commemoration of this, Lomax has produced 400: An Afrikan Epic, a 12 volume set of CDs featuring a variety of different musical ensembles. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Jon Hassell & Bluescreen - Dressing for Pleasure – At least ten years before music journalists coined the term "world music," Jon Hassell was developing his fourth world music concepts. Most prog fans are familiar with Jon Hassell from his...  (1994) » Read more

Óðmenn - Óðmenn – These days there are basically two ways of finding out about long-forgotten progressive artifacts (well, three if you count good old fashioned word of mouth): magazines / fanzines / newsletters such...  (1995) » Read more

Brandywine Bridge - An English Meadow – English trio Brandywine Bridge released its LP, An English Meadow, in 1978. The album, just reissued by Kissing Spell, contained twelve original songs penned in the style of traditional English folk...  (2003) » Read more

Darren Stroud - Guitar Absolute – On Guitar Absolute Darren Stroud plays all guitars and plays bass on most tracks. Tones range from warm, clean jazzy tones to more distorted offerings. Stroud presents a balanced sense of structure in...  (2001) » Read more

John Tchicai - Life Overflowing & Love Letters from the Madhouse – Tenor saxophonist John Tchicai is the leader or co-leader on two recent independent jazz releases. Life Overflowing is a quintet project, while the other is spoken word prose backed by reeds. The...  (2000) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues