King Crimson - Discipline
Warner Bros. Records
Progressive Rock
7 songs (42:03)
Release year: 0
King Crimson, Warner Bros. Records
Reviewed by Crash
Archive review

Is there a band that can claim as much respect as King Crimson? After over forty years the band has done something that few could, please both critics and fans. Intense, challenging, and sporadic music, King Crimson is the band to be brought up whenever trying to prove that rock’n’roll is just as much about the mind as about the balls. Everyone knows In the Court of the Crimson King and just about any prog musician with any sort of credibility will rank it high on their list of influences. Despite the constant lineup changes, directions in sound, and relentless touring the band still never ceased to amaze. There aren’t many groups who could release an album like Lark’s Tongues in Aspic and get away with it. There aren’t many groups who could write that album quite frankly. This all brings me to an album that seems to get overshadowed a lot, for what reason I can’t imagine.

That album is Discipline. With a newly formed lineup consisting of Adrian Belew at the forefront and Tony Levin being Tony Levin, Robert Fripp is left to do as he pleases. In this case, that happens to be doing a lot of very difficult and precise guitar playing. The sound is not like anything the band had dabbled in before. Being that the psychedelic seventies were over, the band ditches most remnants of their spacy atmosphere for tight, straight to the point instrumentation. That is not to say that this record is tame by any means, quite the opposite in fact. Discipline brings weird to a different level. Fripp and Belew both play in a ridiculously razor sharp clean tone. Any mistake could easily be heard, but they don’t give the music a chance to be less than perfect. Everyone here is on their A game.

The most memorable songs are the abrasive and in your face ones. Elephant Talk is the popular song from this album and it is easy to see why: It is bat shit insane. Belew doesn’t sing so much as shout and ramble. If it wasn’t for the fact that he was playing guitar it would not be hard to imagine him strapped into a straitjacket. Tony Levin’s Chapman stick takes the place of the bass guitar, giving a bottom end that is completely unheard of. Fans of Primus will quickly see where Les got some of his chops from and this is nothing but a good thing. Despite seeing live footage of the band performing it is still hard for me to believe that some of these songs are coming out of guitars. They might be running through dozens of effects and processors, but the sounds coming from both guitarists are baffling. The fact that they can not only make these sounds but turn them into enjoyable music makes it even sweeter.

This sound is continued through the entire album. When the King focuses in on a sound, they ignore everything else. Songs like Thela Hun Ginjeet follow in the same vein as Elephant Talk while Discipline and Indiscipline roll along with tight and concise playing. Frame By Frame and Matte Kudasai calm things down without losing momentum, being complex and beautiful. It is a prog fag’s dream. While the songs themselves are not as long as one would come to expect from such a band, there is enough innovation and creatively flowing in and out of every song that there is no need. This is why I believe that the record is titled Discipline. It is a perfect representation of the music and of the attitude that Fripp and his fellow musicians have fallen into. The first King Crimson albums are like huge paintings, every song bringing more color into the picture. What the outcome will be, no one is quite sure. Discipline is a different monster, more like a Rubik’s Cube. Once you know how to solve it, the only place to go from there is to learn how to solve it faster and faster, until the challenge is gone and it becomes almost machine like. That is this album.

So why not a classic? Well, it’s because for some reason this album falls to the wayside in the big Prog rock anals of time. Maybe it’s better that way. Like another album reviewed this week, Captain Beefheart’s Trout Mask Replica, this album is best left to those that will do the digging necessary to appreciate it. Here’s to hoping that you don’t miss it.

Killing Songs :
All are fantastic, but you MUST check out Elephant Talk right now!
Crash quoted 95 / 100
Other albums by King Crimson that we have reviewed:
King Crimson - Red reviewed by Bar and quoted CLASSIC
King Crimson - Islands reviewed by Goat and quoted 65 / 100
King Crimson - Lizard reviewed by Goat and quoted 90 / 100
King Crimson - In The Wake Of Poseidon reviewed by Goat and quoted 85 / 100
King Crimson - In The Court Of The Crimson King reviewed by Goat and quoted CLASSIC
To see all 7 reviews click here
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