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King Crimson

Three Of A Perfect Pair

Review by Gary Hill

When King Crimson reformed in the 1980’s to create the Discipline album the sound they presented was quite different from the classic Crimson of the 1970’s. While I liked all of the discs from this Belew, Bruford, Fripp and Levin lineup, I still preferred the “old school” stuff. The thing is, this disc, the third from that grouping was the shining star to me because it managed to merge both old and new sounds into a collage that was both entertaining and musically challenging. While there are one or two songs here that I might consider “throw aways” the killer music certainly makes up for it enough to land this disc into “great” territory. It still holds up remarkably well all these years later, too.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2007 Volume 1 at

Track by Track Review
Three Of A Perfect Pair
Vocals start this one off, and as the group join in the musical mode is in the form of swirling lines of melody overlaid by gliding waves of singing. This section is extremely effective and carries much of the track. It is alternated, though, with a slightly off-kilter sort of element that is interposed to good effect. These two general sounds in altered formations create the dynamic and tension that serves to make this track work so well. They do also turn it out towards a heavy sort of space rock in the mid portion.
Model Man
This one has a rubbery sort of texture that combines modern King Crimson with the Talking Heads. The chorus is a lot more melodic and has a definite Adrian Belew sensibility to it.
Driven by Tony Levin and Bill Bruford’s rhythm section, this bouncing jam is both prog like (brought in mostly by the overlayers and textures) but also quite a rocking number. It’s sort of an oddity that this was released as a dance mix 12-inch single (I know because I own it). King Crimson and “dance mix” are two phrases that seem mutually exclusive. This is one of the highlights of the disc.
A Man With An Open Heart
This one has never been a favorite of mine. It feels a lot like something Belew would do solo, and just doesn’t really grab me. It’s not bad, but also far from a standout. Still, Bruford and Levin’s rhythm section makes good usage of the space.
The parenthetical on this title is “That Which Passes, Passes Like Clouds.” I’ve always loved that because the track really feels like that. This cut feels a lot like old King Crimson with atmospheric waves of sound winding around with melody lines in a sedate but evocative mélange. This instrumental is both moody and pretty. It’s also one of my favorites on this disc.
They come in tentatively here with a rather bouncy sort of industrial feel. When I say that, though, I’m referring to the sounds of a factory more so than the musical style of “industrial.” Melody elements begin to emerge over the top of this backdrop to create a certain moody sense of beauty. Eventually this powers out into modern King Crimson metallic sounds. This one surely merges the more modernistic King Crimson sound with older KC bombast and experimentalism better than most of the music they produced during this period. I’d have to mark this instrumental up as one of the highlights of the disc. This is one of the most dynamic works on the CD.
Dig Me
This cut has always reminded me a lot of “Elephant Talk” from Discipline. It’s an adequate piece of music, but has never really struck a chord with me.
No Warning
Here they start it off with atmospheric tones, and this instrumental is another in the process of blending modern (well modern at that time) KC sounds with the vintage variety. This time it’s less melodic and more experimental, but this jam is full of changes and left field turns. All of those are taken within the overall format of an unsettling piece of textural atmosphere.
Larks' Tongues In Aspic Part III
Linking to their past, this song revisits the classic ’70’s disc (by way of title) Larks’ Tongues in Aspic. This one starts with a frantic jam that combines the sound of that period of the group’s career with the one in which this was recorded. They shift it out to something more directly tied to the earlier disc and then merge it again with the more contemporary King Crimson sound. This instrumental is another awesome one. I can’t imagine a better way to close the disc out by combining old and new sounds into one dynamic, frequently shifting musical terrain.
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