(All Album Reviews by I.M. Weasel)
The ConstruKction of Light, released in mid-2000, is the first studio album of King Crimson material since 1995's THRAK. However, KC certainly weren’t silent in the time between, touring as the "double trio", then breaking up into 4 sub-groups called "The ProjeKcts". The lineup on this album features: Adrian Belew on Guitar and Vocals, Robert Fripp on Guitar, Trey Gunn on Bass Touch Guitar and Baritone Guitar, and Pat Mastelotto on electronic/acoustic drums. TCOL is a strange album, because usually KC are such a forward-thinking band, yet there are numerous references to their past, such as "FraKctured", "Larks Tounges in Aspic", and references to other KC songs like "Elephant Talk" (in ProzaKc Blues) and "Frame by Frame" (in "The Worlds My"...etc). However, these accounts of the past do not diminish the impact of the songs. Belew's lyric writing, though still excellent, seems to have taken on a somewhat darker tone as well, especially in "Coda: I have a Dream". Fripp is pretty much what you would expect him to, which is nothing short of great. Trey Gunn is one of the real surprises here, he originally joined KC in 94 as part of the double trio but seemed to take a backseat to Tony Levin, but here he really shines. Pat Mastelotto is a masterful drummer, with his talents coming through despite his use of electronic percussion. TCOL, in my opinion, is almost like the Discipline of the new millenium, no so much that it copies the format of the aforementioned album, but that TCOL contains the building blocks for a new type of music, much like Discipline does.
TCOL starts off with "ProzaKc Blues", though this is hardly what you would call a normal blues number. How many blues songs feature odd time signatures, soundscapes, and wild guitars courtesy of Adrian Belew? The lyrics are hysterical (I recommend a fifth of jack and a bottle of prozac) and the way Belew sings with a low raspy voices add another touch of hilarity to the song. When I first heard this album it was automatically my favorite.
The album then rolls into "The ConstruKction of Light" that seems to hearken back to the interlocking guitar days of the 1980s; infact this song for me at least has a very 80s Crimson feel to it for me, which is definitely not a bad thing.
The comes along "Into the Frying Pan" which features some excellent playing by Belew and some more of his somewhat whimsical lyrical style, though this seems to take on a darker tone. I suppose that the meaning of this song is just basically "life sucks sometimes".
The album then creeps along into "FraKctured". This song is supposedly based on Fracture from the album Starless and Bible Black, but I have yet to hear that album so I cant make many comparisons to the original. What I can say is that Fripp really shines on this track. It starts out as a sleepy ride down a dark yet quiet river, then immediately you are plunged into rapids. Trey Gunn's playing on this song is outstanding as well.
The album then swings into "The Worlds My Oyster Soup Kitchen Floor Wax Museum", which is a lyrical word-play in the vein of "Word Play Drum Beat" off Adrian Belews Op Zop Too Wah album. The song features a solo by "Spider Fingers" near the end.
Then comes IMO the best track of the whole album, "Larks' Tounges in Aspic Part IV". This is an extremely dark and heavy ride that just keeps building and building until its final climax "Coda: I have a Dream". LTiA4 features mind blowing solos by Fripp and Belew (how many times have I said that?) and Mastelotto's drumming is incredible here too. When I saw KC live last October on the TCOL tour, Mastelotto was especially stunning. LTiA4 coupled with “I have a Dream” seem to be the new anthem for the 21st century, recollecting on the tragic events of the 20th century and questioning whether or not this is really progress for the human race, "Symbols of our life and times....one giant leap for mankind...". LTiA4 has to be one of the best KC songs in the last 20 years.
The album closes out with a bouns track "Heaven and Earth" from the more improvisational side of KC called ProjeKct X.
TCOL is a great album in my opinion, but it does take a lot of warming up to. Even though I did enjoy the album, I never truely realized how great it was until I saw KC perform it live. On stage they take on a whole new life. Seeing as how you cant go back in time and see the band live, there is an excellent live album Heavy ConstruKction from the European leg of the TCOL tour that I highly recommend.