Michael Stack | North Chelmsford, MA USA | 11/05/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Several years after the band broke up, Robert Fripp resurrected King Crimson, but in a way no one would have expected. Returning was drummer Bill Bruford, and joining was bassist/stickist/backing vocalist Tony Levin and one of the few who could stand next to Robert Fripp holding his chosen instrument and not look inept, guitarist/vocalist Adrian Belew. Originally a band called Discipline, Fripp realized this was King Crimson and renamed the band. Wrapped in a red sleeve with a Celtic knot on the cover, this album is in many ways as the cover implies-- intertwining and interlocking-- Fripp and Belew's guitars play complex lines that live with each other and don't stand without each other, supported by Levin's thunderous bass and melody vs. countermelody playing on the stick. Below all of this, Bruford is easily holding it all together. The album is one of the true greats of its era, and is certainly among the best Crimson has ever recorded.
From the opener, "Elephant Talk", you know you're in for something different-- Levin's melody/countermelody intro overlayed with two intertwined guitars, elephant squeals on guitar, a half-spoken vocal, and two bizarre guitar solos. Five minutes later, you're overwhelmed, what's amazing is that its got a groove, its a great rhythm, its just plain amazing.
The rest of the album pretty much follows suit in terms of being brilliant to the point of overwhelming while the environment and the mood changes-- interlocking guitars rule several of the songs (the breathtaking "Frame By Frame", with impassioned vocals and some of the fastest guitar licks you'll ever hear, the frantic "Thela Hun Ginjeet", and the title track-- an instrumental where you can really hear Fripp and Belew get into a groove). These are offset by a couple great ballads ("Matte Kudasai", with its beautiful slide guitar seagulls and an almost lazy feel to the vocal, "The Sheltering Sky", featuring a horn-toned Fripp guitar melody). In the middle of all of this is a piece that sounds like it would fit the last generation of Crimson better-- "Indiscipline". Building tension until the release-- an explosion of guitar pyrotechnics and a blazing solo that almost seems out of place here, but works.
Something of note-- this is NOT a progressive rock album (in terms of the genre)-- in fact, its got more in common with new wave acts like the Talking Heads and the Police than it does with Yes and early Genesis. One of the reasons why I love Crimson so much is unlike many of those other progressive rock bands, they didn't stand still, they grew and changed and became something else over time.
Bottom line though-- this is one of the greats, highly recommended."
A New, Brilliant (And Controversial) Crimson
Alan Caylow | USA | 04/02/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"After the release of 1974's "Red," King Crimson guitarist/leader Robert Fripp declared to the press, "King Crimson is over. Forever and ever." But seven years later, Fripp changed his mind and resurrected the band. Hooking up again with Crimson drummer Bill Bruford, and with new recruits Adrian Belew on guitar and vocals and bassist Tony Levin, King Crimson came roaring back to life with 1981's "Discipline." But this was certainly not the same Crimson of yor. You still had Fripp and Bruford from the classic Crimson line-up, but with the addition of Belew's soaring voice & frenetic guitar, Levin's ominous basslines, and a more streamlined approach to the music---including some more melodic elements than usual from Crimson---the band's sound was practically re-written from scratch with "Discipline." And some fans didn't like it, dismissing this version of King Crimson as "The Adrian Belew Band." But, for the more open-minded Crimheads, "Discipline" was exciting and fresh, a glorious new direction for this classic prog-rock band. And I agree. Even with more melodies, the band are still very much in a prog mode on this album. They didn't go pop. It's just *different* prog music than what they did before. From the great, interlocking grooves & sonics of "Elephant Talk," to the wistful beauty of "Matte Kudasai," to the frantic musical AND lyrical attack of "Thela Hun Ginjeet," to the hypnotic sounds of the instrumental "The Sheltering Sky," this album is simply amazing, the musical chemistry between Fripp, Bruford, Belew and Levin outstanding. With "Discipline," King Crimson opened the second chapter of their impressive musical career with a daring, challenging, powerful work. This is easily one of the band's very best albums."
Still genre defying
GraceNoteX | Houston, TX United States | 08/17/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Court of the Crimson King," "Lark's Tongue in Aspic" and "Starless and Bible Black" may define the "classic" King Crimson, but "Discipline" has to be high tide for Fripp's creativity, inspiration, musicianship and genius.
This disc only qualifies as prog-rock because, even after all of this time, there isn't a genre it comfortably fits in. Fripp had just completed groundbreaking collaborations with Eno and Bowie, as well as work with Peter Gabriel. Out of that experience he created a very personal distillation of the most exciting elements of African poly-rhythms, new wave esthetics, minimalism and Berlin electronica filtered through his own neo-classical approach, and the result of that was two absolute masterpieces (his solo album "Exposure" and the reinvented King Crimson's "Discipline").
"The Sheltering Sky" is a timeless gem. Part soundscape, part ambient piece, part improvisational instrumental, this piece creates a sound world I could stay inside for another 20 minutes without tiring of.
"Discipline" combines Steve Reich style minimalism (in fact, this track reminds me of the best aspects of Reich's "Drumming" but is far more pleasurable listening) with rigid classical structure weaving in and out of a bed of African poly-rhythms.
"Indiscipline" is more amusing when you know that the bizarrely cryptic lyrics are in fact a letter Belew's wife wrote to him describing a sculpture she completed while he was away recording.
As great as this CD is, it has some weak spots. Belew's guitar on "Elephant Talk" sounds more novelty than clever with 30 years of perspective. Up against the rest of the tracks, "Frame by Frame" feels more like filler now. And the song's lyrics don't quite match the brilliant musicianship on "Matte Kudasai."
If you want one album to represent King Crimson in your collection, choose one of the three "classic" albums. But if you want King Crimson at their most inventive, get this one. "
Michael D. Barton | 10/20/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"My first exposure to the 80's incarnation of King Crimson was in the early 80s when I bought Beat after seeing and MTV News bit about how the classic progressive rock group had defied history by maintaining the same lineup for two albums in a row.
I probably just lost a lot of you with a sentence that seems incoherent but yes, at one time MTV did acknowledge a wide variety of music. Bear with me.
Raised on FM radio and just beginning to scratch the surface of prog rock with Rush I was thoroughly underwhelmed by King Crimson's effort which sounded poppy and more than a little like Talking Heads.
Fast forward 20 years and I had read glowing reviews of Discipline, the KC album recorded prior to Beat. I decided to give it a listen.
I was thoroughly amazed.
Discipline is almost transcendent- it not only captured what was happening in music at that time but looked forward to what music could become as well as standing as an example of what King Crimson as a band is all about.
If you want to understand Yes, listen to Close to the Edge. If you want to understand Rush, listen to Moving Pictures. If you want to understand King Crimson, listen to Discipline.
When you have soaked this record in you may say to yourself, "I just heard pure music- music that exists outside time."
Or you may say to yourself, "I know why Bill Bruford left Yes to be a part of this."
Or you may say to yourself, "I know why Robert Fripp told Bruford after Close to the Edge, 'I think you are ready for King Crimson now.'"
Or you may find yourself paraphrasing the words of the protagonist of Indiscipline:
I do remember one thing. It took hours and hours but.. By the time I was done with it, I was so involved, I didnt know what to think. I carried it around with me for days and days.. Playing little games Like not listening to it for a whole day And then... listening to it. To see if I still liked it. I did.
In short, this album is King Crimson at their finest: less a band than a laboratory to create music that defies definition as it hits you on the intellectual, emotional and visceral levels.
Culture Clash Club
Tim Brough | Springfield, PA United States | 07/20/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Some seven years after Robert Fripp declared King Crimson dead post "Red," there was much surprise in the music world when he re-appeared not only with a four-piece rock band, but slapping the name King Crimson upon it. Just to make sure it would get the intellectual ears to ponder it, he gave it the academic and spiritually highbrow moniker "Discipline." Because as anyone worth their prog-rock smarts would tell you, playing good highbrow rock required it.
But what shook a lot of people at the time was how the usually reserved Fripp gave the front mic to Adrian Belew, whose more light-hearted (read "American") persona was so different from Fripp's. Add old KC alum Bill Bruford and US Bass/chapman stick wiz Tony Levin and you had a clash of continents that made for perfect chemistry. Fripp's mathematical guitar "fripperies" balance Belew's animal noises with impeccable beauty and more that a dash of humor. The two cuts to gather the airplay, "Elephant Talk" and "Thela Hun Ginjeet," seemed to favor Belew, who obviously was having a ball barking out the alliterations on "Elephant Talk." Bringing some of his polyrhythmic skills over from sidelining with Talking Heads, Belew brought the rock to Fripp's highbrow.
When the band decided to wax artistic, though, Belew delivered. The lovely "Matte Kudasi" may be one of his finest hours on any album, and the lyric to "Indiscipline" captured the love/hate relationship an artist can have with his words. The final, title track is also terrific fusion rock, the instrumental work that is positively electric. Levin's work on this song in particular and the album overall, probably brought the inventor of The Chapman Stick a whole new clutch of devotees.
Fripp may have looked on the new King Crimson as an academic exercise (the new liner notes are often unintentionally funny in their seriousness), but these four virtuosos under Fripp's strict hand held together to make some brilliant music. "Discipline" is best thought of as the high water mark in a trio that includes "Beat" and "Three of a Perfect Pair." By combining some of the ferocity of new wave (there are hints of Talking Heads and The Police among the songs here), proved that the new line-up of Kind Crimson lived up the legacy of its namesake."