Archives for posts with tag: King Crimson

It’s that time of the year again to shed a light on some of the best new recordings that came my way this year. These are the ones that I found myself going back to time after time.

Please note: this list has been amended since first being published due to some records that just came my way in December.




1 Birds Through Fire – Letters To Thurza (Trench Editions)

2 Vladimír Václavek – Barvy Radugy (Poli5)

3 United Bible Studies – So As To Preserve The Mystery (Deep Water Acres)

4 Qluster – Tasten (Bureau B)

5 David Torn – Only Sky (ECM Records)

6 Andrew Chalk – Ghosts Of Nakhodka (Faraway Press)

7 Luigi Archetti – Null I-VII (Die Schachtel)

8 Anna Thorvaldsdottir – In The Light Of Air (Sono Luminus)

9 Alio Die & Lorenzo Montanà – Holographic Codex (Projekt)

10 John Luther Adams – The Wind In High Places (Cold Blue Music)

11 Osvaldo Coluccino – Dimensioni (Die Schachtel)

12 Manuel Zurria – Landscape With Tears (Die Schachtel)

13 Michael Begg | Human Greed – Hivernant (Omnempathy)

14 Nordic Affect – Clockworking (Sono Luminus)

15 Stephan Micus – Nomad Songs




Honorable mentions:


1 Wolfgang Rihm – Et Lux (ECM Records)

2 Gustavo Leguizamón – Pablo Márquez – El Cuchi Bien Temperado (ECM Records)

3 King Crimson – Live At The Orpheum (Panegyric / Discipline Global Mobile)

4 Steve Roach – Etheric Imprints (Projekt)

5 Kit Wilmans Fegradoe – Issa (Important)

6 Chris Potter Underground Orchestra – Imaginary Cities (ECM Records)

7 Michael Ranta – Yuen Shan (Metaphon)

8) En – City Of Brides (Students Of Decay)




damage cd


(Virgin Records 1994)

As the story goes, Robert Fripp approached David Sylvian sometime in 1993 to be the new singer for King Crimson and embark on a tour of Japan. David Sylvian, flattered, told Fripp thanks but no thanks due to the incredible amount of baggage that comes with a position like that and to then pursue on yet a new chapter of what was the continuing story of King Crimson, would be too much to bear for any sane vocalist to undertake. I agree. Leave that one alone. Crimson had its share of ups and downs throughout the years, with some brilliant accomplishments and some not so brilliant but worthy attempts no less.

Later that year, ‘The First Day‘ lp appeared and with it a new chapter for both David Sylvian and Robert Fripp. This was not the new King Crimson that Robert Fripp envisioned to say the least, but a bright new musical tangent which was done in an upstate New York studio with Jerry Marotta on drums and Trey Gunn on Chapman Stick, with added incidental vocals by singer Ingrid Chavez.

In December of that same year, a tour was begun of Japan and the UK with Trey Gunn on Chapman Stick and Michael Brook on guitar and Pat Mastelotto (replacing Jerry Marotta) on drums, and this recording is taken from the London show of the tour. There is in fact a video from a Japanese show titled Live In Japan (1995) that has the same songs (and more) but obviously different takes on them and that is worth finding for comparison’s sake but overall I do like this performance over this other live one just mentioned. I must admit that I have had the original edition of this cd since it first came out and it remains a recording that I have played endless times. I seem to know every nuance of the mix by now, some things which I love, but some things that have always irked me. Produced by David Botrill and Robert Fripp and mixed by David Botrill at Real World Studios. Comprised mostly of songs from The First Day and with additional pieces from David Sylvian’s Gone To Earth album from 1986. As a general rule of thumb, this first edition was mixed as a live recording to portray a live performance. Loud, dynamic, a bit raucous in spots. The audience is always present between the songs and one cannot mistake this for anything but a live recording. One thing that always irked me was the slightly shrill sound of Robert Fripp’s guitar synth, especially during his leads. It seemed it was mixed a bit too upfront and in your face and with a tad too much high end for my tastes, but I usually overlooked those sonics as this is some of his most brilliant guitar playing of his career, and just enjoyed the intensity and playing for what it is. Knowing that Fripp did indeed want this band to be the new Crimson has tainted my view of the album, it sounds like a new Crimson album for the most part, with the exceptions of a few songs.

The song Damage opens the set as an introspective and melancholy setting without drums and this song has always been a favorite of mine all of these years. A predominately vocal & Prophet synthesizer piece, with added sparse incidental interplay between Fripp & Gunn making for a very understated orchestrated performance. To the point and absolutely beautiful in execution. Gods’ Monkey and Brightness Falls are next and this is where you hear the Crimson intent the most. This version of Gods’ Monkey kick’s ass! A rendition of Rain Tree Crow’s Every Colour You Are follows and I can’t help thinking that this live version tops the original studio one by a mile, as wonderful and immortal as that version (and record) is. The musical conversation between all involved here is mesmerizing and they are all in perfect sync with one another, not a note out of place. Firepower from The First Day continues the high energy but in a nod towards Fripp’s Exposure masterpiece from 1977, with obvious vocal references to Brian Eno‘s vocals on the title track Exposure, where Eno chants “E X P O S U R E” in the background and Sylvian on this song chants “F I R E P O W E R” in it’s background. I have never seen a reference to this fact in any review I have read about this release throughout the years. Not one. I chalk this up to a lot of reviewers not being actual musicians or producers and / or not knowing an artist’s full discography as they should.

Gone To Earth is next. This version of the song from the album of the same name is quite different from the original and is brought into an ensemble setting as opposed to the sparse, abstract vocals / acoustic guitar and very Bowie-esque  Scary Monster’s sounding electric guitar of Fripp of the original. Two very different versions with two very different elements at play. 20th Century Dreaming (A Shaman’s Song) continues the Exposure reminiscing with an exhilarating version and all out guitar assault from all involved. This might be the highlight of the album. I can almost hear a version of this being done with Peter Hammill on vocals because this version has Van Der Graaf Generator written all over it as did some of the pieces on Exposure like I May Not Have Had Enough Of Me But I’ve Had Enough Of You and Disengage, both intense Peter Hammill work outs. Sylvian is no slouch on guitar and here they all achieve perfection together. A very different version of Wave from Gone To Earth is next. I find this version lacks the nuance and sophistication that the original possessed and this is obviously due to different musicians in question and a different setting entirely but this newer version is enjoyable all the same, with a constant pulse supplied by Mastelloto. Riverman, Darshan (The Road To Graceland), Blinding Light Of Heaven (a new song) and The First Day (another new song) closes the set. These last tracks taken as the closing segment for me are varied in approach, Riverman taken from Gone To Earth again, lacks the sophistication of the original studio recording due to its live setting, but in no way lacks the intensity and purpose. Darshan (The Road To Graceland) is a rock tour de force of overtones and textures with musical passages being traded off between the participants in call and answer fashion, building to a climax and making for a very danceable and funky tune. The original version on The First Day is more of a tribute to Miles Davis’s On The Corner days as is some of the rest of that album. Blinding Light Of Heaven (another new song), here on this version of Damage is the one sore thumb for me. I feel it’s slightly rushed and cluttered sounding and would have been much better interpreted slower and less frenetic. The record closes with The First Day, again a drumless melancholy moment for Sylvian to stretch out his vocals on and a fitting close to an exceptional live concert.

track order:


God’s Monkey

Brightness Falls

Every Colour You Are


Gone To Earth

20th Century Dreaming (A Shaman’s Song)



Darshan (The Road To Graceland)

Blinding Light Of Heaven

The First Day

damage remaster

Sylvian | Fripp – Damage remaster

(Venture / Virgin 2001)

2001 brings with it a remastered Sylvian | Fripp – Damage edition which is quite different from the first issue. This one, produced and mixed by David Sylvian at his own Samadhi Sound studio in New Hampshire. I bought this album a bit after it had come out since I mistakenly thought it was just a reissue of the original box edition mentioned above that was destined to go out of print due to its 24 carat gold cd and a package beautifully designed by Russell Mills, and just assumed this was the same cd in a trimmed down jewel case. It is not.

The two discs are impossible for me to say which one do I prefer over the other, that is simply not the point. The fact that they are both exceptional works and different from one another are enough for me to accept their own individual worth and are both available for the listener to enjoy. The 2001 remaster is intentionally stripped of its live ambiance and a good deal of the live sound added to each instrument on the original recording is gone. This mix is an intimate reworking of the same recording done several years afterwards with a totally fresh approach, one I feel is a more balanced mix with each instrument expertly sitting amongst each other with none of the frenetic competition that is part of the original version’s sound. Mastellotto’s drums are perfectly balanced with one another and their canon-like reverb-drenched sound has been tamed and that is the key to this recording. When they were stripped back of their live feeds, it afforded the rest of the instruments to breathe better and now are all are in proper balance with one another. The shrill effect I got from some of Fripp’s original guitar synth lead parts is now gone and Sylvian’s vocals are much warmer and clearer and do not seem to be competing with the band. Even Ingrid Chavez’ vocals are much more defined and distinct and add yet another layer to the textures of this recording. (There is an old story going around that Fripp produced Peter Gabriel II with everything on 5, producing a very flat and ‘safe’ recording as a result. Apparently this fact was divulged by one of the musicians on the album.) The sound of that album always bothered me no matter what the reasons were and it’s a shame since there are some masterful songs on that one like White Shadow and D.I.Y. That is one recording that I would love to hear a remix of!

All of these subtle changes lends the recording to have more of an impression that it is studio recording and farther from the reality that indeed it was done in a live hall setting to my ears. An interesting concept that was first done on King Crimson’s Starless And Bible Black, but that album was intentionally stripped of all audience noise, thus fooling the listener into thinking it was done in a studio. Why, I do not know. I am sure most Crimson fans do not even know this to this day.

One thing I must say is the remix of Blinding Light Of Heaven is absolutely outstanding and is one of the highlights of this cd, as opposed to the reservations I had with the original. Every instrument seems to be in place now and the frenetic sound I attributed to overplaying and rushing the tempo on Blinding Light Of Heaven are now tamed and every instrument breathes, giving the song a new meaning for me here and a joy to listen to.

One of the aural treats of the Damage remastered disc is actually hearing Michael Brooks’ beautiful guitar parts which suffered from being mixed down and mostly buried on the original. His work on Peter Murphy’s Cascade comes to mind instantly, an impression impossible to get from the original release. What he is doing perfectly works with Trey Gunn’s dual handed Stick parts and now Fripp’s guitar parts sit in much better with the other’s. A case of an over anxious Fripp & Botrill at the controls for the first disc maybe? I do know guitar synths are a different beast altogether to record properly and must be done with care. Who knows, but again, both discs are exceptional and are a pleasure to listen to from start to finish.

The order of songs has been slightly changed on the remaster:

God’s Monkey

Brightness Falls

Every Colour You Are

Jean The Birdman



Gone To Earth

20th Century Dreaming (A Shaman’s Song)



Blinding Light Of Heaven

The First Day

The song Darshan (The Road To Graceland) has been left off and replaced with Jean The Birdman on the remaster.

To conclude, I feel the original is a great document to portray a live situation and it does represent the concert performance appropriately, warts and all. The remixed version bring it into a different light altogether and is much more in lines of what Sylvian would do if he had complete control, which I believe he did have from the liner notes. Both have their place in musical history and both are extremely enjoyable and important steps in the growth of both Fripp and Sylvian’s careers. They will forever be favorites for me.

Overall, as I find myself listening to these two discs recently again, it never fails to strike me for both David Sylvian and Robert Fripp, respectively, were thankfully always trying new things and challenging themselves and their audiences along the way. These two discs stand the test of time and are both excellent additions to anyone with a predilection for art rock, post punk progressive and / or ambient with an edge.

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