Exposé print issues (1993-2011)
King Crimson — Vrooom
(Discipline DR 9401 2, 1994, CD)
What a pleasant surprise... After just a minute of the opening title track, it's clearly apparent that this is no rehash of the 80s incarnation of Crimson. This double-trio formation (two guitars, two drummers, two bassists) shreds through killer guitar riffs alternatively with a shimmering guitar arpeggio refrain that single-handedly blows away any tune they did in the 80s. "Vrooom," the tune, is a welcome return to a Red-type instrumental energy, perhaps fueled by the more acoustic drumming of Pat Mastelotto and Bill Bruford. Next up is the almost funky "Sex Sleep Eat Drink Dream" which has the same power, plus some shocking distorted vocal crooning which borders too closely on the unpleasant. The one-and-a-half minute "Cage" is a smoking narrative comprised of three main lines which repeat once. Can you say Primus? Crimson can, and while it never seemed they would sound so similar to a modern band, it works nevertheless. "Thrak" is the dissonant, free-form heavy improv bit which again is more of a 70s mentality Crimson, and it only works marginally well, as it did then. This degenerates into "When I Say Stop, Continue," a lower-key electronic exploration, with plenty of guitar effects (but no synth whatsoever). The closer is "One Time," and it's the only tune on the album where Adrian Belew does some true melodic singing. While this song would have been right at home on Beat, it is somewhat of an inconclusive ending here despite the catchy melody and fresh chord progression which drives it. Engineered and mixed by David Bottrill at Peter Gabriel's Real World studio, the sound is rich and clean, without the coldness that plagued the three 80s albums. Fripp and Belew work incredibly well with each other, but Bruford and Mastelotto do very little playing off of each other and Levin and Gunn do next to nothing. But the biggest flaw with Vrooom is the total time. Half-an-hour of this stuff isn't enough. Highly recommended.
by Dan Casey, Published 1995-03-01
by Rob Walker, Published 1995-03-01
This is Fripp's next go around with a name too familiar for an explanation, and to be honest I was expecting little from this group. Usually 70s dinosaur reunions are enough to make one run screaming for cover and this line-up’s similarity to the Yes-Union deal gives new meaning to the word "pretentious." Definitely too many aging musicians in one practice room. One more red nightmare, Bob? I suppose in the 90s this is technically an EP, yet compare its 30 minutes to the Catharsis reviewed elsewhere. Let's call it a short album. Anyway, time changes and so has Crimson. Vrooom opens with the powerful title track, a piece of music recalling the Mark II era — loud and dissonant with a straightforward yet ballsy riff. Immediately noticeable after the opener is the return of Adrian Belew, whose influence on the Mk. III line-up was out of my tastes. His vocals are a factor that will make or break this for an individual, and songs such as the closer "One Time" with its pop-bossanova feel are best left to pop-critics. Another "Belew track" is the Beatles influenced "Sex Sleep Eat Drink Dream" which is a bit more palatable than the aforementioned closer but still remains one of the EP's least notable tracks. On the other hand, the album's best tracks are numbers 4 and 5 — the amazing "Thrak," which is close to the raucous Heldon style with shifting rhythms and bizarre effects, and the rhythmic "When I Say Stop, Continue," with more Frippertronic effects and a pulsating driving intensity. So a mixed bag, no doubt, but practically worth it for the amazing "Thrak," Crimson's best track since the old days. More like that, I think, Robert...
by Mike McLatchey, Published 1995-03-01
Filed under: New releases, Issue 6, 1994 releases
Related artist(s): Adrian Belew, Bill Bruford / Earthworks, Robert Fripp, King Crimson, Tony Levin, Pat Mastelotto, Trey Gunn
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