King Crimson- Power To Believe (DGM)
review by Jim Clark

Track Listing

1. The Power To Believe I: A Capella
2. Level Five
3. Eyes Wide Open
4. EleKtriK
5. Facts Of Life: Intro
6. Facts Of Life
7. The Power To Believe II
8. Dangerous Curves
9. Happy With What You Have To Be Happy With
10. The Power To Believe III
11. The Power To Believe IV: Coda



While listening to King Crimson's latest offering, 2003's The Power To Believe , one can't help but get a strange feeling of déjà vu.

For the first time since the 80's lineup of the band, King Crimson had the same exact members on two consecutive recordings (that 80's group held the same lineup for three straight releases). Leading the way is band founder and guitarist Robert Fripp and longtime cohort, guitarist and vocalist Adrian Belew. Returning from 2000's The ConstruKction Of Light are drummer Pat Mastelotto and touch guitarist Trey Gunn, both of whom joined Crimson in the early 90's for their Thrak disc (Gunn has since left the band after the tour to promote The Power To Believe , leading to yet another lineup change, this one featuring the return of bassist Tony Levin).

"Level Five" sounds as if it could have easily been called "Larks Tongues In Aspic part V" as it shares similar structure with the "Larks Tongues..." series. "The Power To Believe III" has near identical music to "Deception Of The Thrush," "Eyes Wide Open" sounds strangely similar to Thrak 's "One Time" and "The Facts Of Life," with its heavy guitar and distorted vocals, wouldn't have sounded out of place on The ConstruKction Of Light .

Another reason that these tracks sound so familiar is that if you were lucky enough to catch the band live in 2001, you'd have heard nearly half of these songs. "Level Five," "Dangerous Curves," "EleKtriK" and "The Power To Believe II," then known as "Virtuous Circle," were debuted on that tour and all of these but EleKtrik were released on the Level Five disc, which was sold at gigs that year as well as through Fripp's Discipline website.

Also predating The Power To Believe was the 2002 EP Happy With What You Have To Be Happy With , which featured the title track as well as an acoustic rendition of "Eyes Wide Open."

Yet despite the sameness and familiarity of some of the tracks, there are still some excellent songs on The Power To Believe . "Dangerous Curves" is the standout with its slow yet menacing soundscape buildup before Belew joins in with some excellent guitar riffs, backed by stellar percussion from Mastelotto and some fine bass sounds provided by Gunn. The song's only problem is that it builds up and then just sort of ends. The version found on the Level Five disc is superior with church bells closing out the track.

"Happy With What You Have To Be Happy With" is Belew's hilarious take on today's state of songwriting. "We're gonna need to have a chorus and this seems to be as good as any other place, I'll sing it till I'm blue in the face," Belew sings repeatedly, changing the lyric later in the track to "We're gonna repeat the chorus." The lyrics are backed by heavy, almost metallic music.

On "The Power To Believe II," the band shows an eastern influence which works quite well. "EleKtrik" opens with a cool guitar synthesizer part before leading into Crimson's usual heavy instrumental prowess. The disc is bookended by the first and last parts of the title track, which is a sparse recording of Belew singing through a vocoder, much like the haikus found on the Happy With What You Have To Be Happy With EP.

So while there is a bit of "been there, done that" with this disc, it shouldn't disappoint old-time Crimson fans while those unfamiliar with the band's illustrious past will think it all sounds fresh.


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