Jakszyk, Fripp and Collins — A Scarcity of Miracles
(DGM DGM1101, 2011, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2013-09-25
The first thing to say is that I really love King Crimson in all its incarnations. But it is not unconditional, unquestioning love; I do love some of the incarnations more than others. My main criticism of the last few iterations has been the lack of sonic variety. By focusing nearly exclusively on guitars, some of that wonderful varied palette found on an album like Larks' Tongues is lost when you're without violin, keyboards, saxophones, percussion, and so on to mix it up a bit. (The less said about the use of guitar synthesizers to emulate some of those other instruments, the better.) So I was looking forward to this release with some measure of hope — throwing Mel Collins in the ring with Fripp seemed like a fine idea. Jakko was somewhat of an unknown quality: although I've heard him appearing in a variety of contexts, none of them really gave me a clue what to expect from him here. It made sense to cast him in the "Belew" role, providing lyrics, vocals, and a contrasting guitar voice, and the fact that he plays keyboards leads to the hope of some tonal variety. But enough about expectations, on to the actual music. The good news is that the sound is interesting and varied, coming off somewhat like a collection of mellower Crimson tracks with a different singer. I'm reminded of Fripp's collaborations with David Sylvian in this, though with even fewer aggressive tunes. But I'm not going to insist on "Thrak" or "Red" over and over again, so the lack of jarring odd-meter dissonance isn't a deal-breaker. When this atmospheric approach works, as on the closing track, "The Light of Day," it's really wonderful. Jakszyk's massively harmonized vocals croon above a bed of Frippertronics and whatnot while Collins noodles around on the soprano sax. Lovely stuff. Where it doesn't work so well is on more conventional songs like the title track, which are reminiscent of No-Man. Here, we have what seems more like a middle-of-the-road AOR band with touches of Fripp guitar, and Collins' parts just bring to mind smooth jazz, which is not a good thing at all. To my ear, it's not often that a soprano sax carries enough expression to not just sound pretty. There have been precious few players who can pull it off. When he plays the alto, Collins brings a much more interesting flavor to the sound, but that is not often. This is my main disappointment with A Scarcity of Miracles — it's all too polite, too safe, too pretty to be really engaging. A worthy effort, but more grit please.
Seaprog 2018 Artist Announcements Raise Festival's Profile – Seattle's Seaprog festival has been going since 2013, and the 2018 edition features a slate of artists that's sure to bring more attention to the event. Cheer-Accident, Bubblemath, and Free Salamander Exhibit are in the first round announcement of performers. In keeping with their tradition of focusing on regional artists, they will also present a number of artists from Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia. [Edit: Just added: Inner Ear Brigade] » Read more
Adelbert von Deyen RIP – Word reaches us that German electronic musician Adelbert von Deyen has died. His recorded legacy reaches back to 1978, when Sky Records released Sternzeit. Von Deyen, who was born October 25, 1953 in Süderbrarup, was also known as a painter and graphic artist. » Read more
Didier Lockwood RIP – Word reaches us today of the death of one of France's great jazz musicians, violinist Didier Lockwood. His playing bridged many worlds, from traditional jazz to fusion to progressive rock, and his talent can be heard on recordings by Magma, Clearlight, Pierre Moerlen's Gong, and many more. Lockwood was 62. » Read more
10 Years of Fruits de Mer - The Incomplete Angler – Those of you who are faithful followers of Exposé will know that we have been promoting Fruits de Mer and its side labels and releases from nearly its first year. Now music journalist and author Dave Thompson has written a book chronicling the past ten years as a celebration of this milestone. » Read more