Featured Album

March 06, 2007
King Crimson Collectors' Club
Pop/Rock, Prog-Rock, Art Rock, Album Rock

Album Review

The cosmos were certainly aligned on this trio-centric evening. What was originally scheduled as a night with King Crimson at the Birchmere Music Hall in Alexandria, VA -- on the third day of the third month of the third year of the new millennium -- turned into the trifecta of ProjeKct Three. The (literally) eleventh hour change in format, as well as the conspicuous absence of Adrian Belew (guitar/vocals), were due to the artist's (obviously) unexpected illness. Rather than call the whole show off, the decision was made that Robert Fripp (guitar), Trey Gunn (touch guitar/talker), and Pat Mastelotto (electronic percussion) would re-form the King Crimson offshoot fraKctal ProjeKct Three for one very special occasion. These ProjeKcts were implemented after the 1997 dissolution of King Crimson's double-trio reincarnation. ProjeKct Three's initial lifespan was limited to a brief run (21st -- 25th) in March of 1998. Fripp's opening solo "Introductory Soundscape" continues his tradition of tone probing and otherwise aurally thoughtful and penetrating ambient sounds. His sonic searching then meanders into the slow -- but never labored, plodding, or otherwise inhibited -- "Improv: I." Mastelotto steadily keeps the beat beneath Fripp and Gunn's sinuous insights that are marked by organically evolving melodies and textural counterpoints. The rendering of "Level Five" commences with nearly a minute of Mastelotto's funky beats and samples before igniting a dynamic adrenaline-charged interpretation. "Improv: II" again leads the charge through a faster, yet no less intricately weaved, intertwining of talents -- particularly as Gunn and Fripp liberally experiment around a variety of inspired approaches. The "Power to Believe II" is a direct descendant of the Level Five (2001) selection "Virtuous Circle." Two years later, it was reworked as the second movement of the title composition of King Crimson's concurrent long-player Power to Believe (2003). While typically accompanied by Belew's tongue in cheek lyrics and commanding vocals, the version of "Facts of Life" -- another cut off the new album -- bristles beneath the intensity of Fripp's gritty and soulful fretwork, hearkening to the unforgettable sounds heard during the final moments of the Islands (1971) cut "A Sailor's Tale." "Sus-tayn-Z" is interesting as it crossed over from the Fripp/Belew/Gunn confab of ProjeKct Two -- chronologically the first fraKctal to have convened in mid-November 1997. A studio version can be found on the highly underrated Space Groove two-CD set. That digression aside, it drives directly into the powerhouse ProjeKct(s)-turned-King Crimson staple "Deception of the Thrush." They then reach even farther into their aforementioned mid-'90s six-man lineup for the revival of "VROOOM." The "Q&A" is introduced by Fripp as an "...opportunity where one can meet on a more human person-to-person basis than at high-powered rock concerts." After a few additional words of encouragement, Gunn answers an inquiry about the rehearsal time invested for the tour by hypothetically postulating "...you realize this was mostly improvised?" Fripp then interjects a fascinating aside concerning the differentiation between extemporization and improvisation. As Fripp hardly ever grants interviews and even more infrequently allows an audience to engage him in conversation, as he says, it is a "rare opportunity." Curious enthusiasts are encouraged to check out ProjeKct Three's respective Live in Austin, TX 1999 (2004) and Masque (1999) releases. The latter can likewise be found as part of the larger four-disc ProjeKcts (1999) box set.
Lindsay Planer, Rovi

Track Listing

  1. Introductory Soundscape
  2. Improv: I
  3. Level Five
  4. Improv: II
  5. The Power to Believe II
  6. Facts of Life
  7. Sus-Tayn-Z
  8. The Deception of the Thrush
  9. Vrooom
  10. Q & A