Analog Adventures: Discipline
About the Artist
King Crimson died in 1974. Long live King Crimson.
After 1974’s psychedelic jazz infused progressive rock Red made a statement, Robert Fripp disbanded King Crimson. The band saw its fair share of drama and like any band, if it stretches too far it will snap. Fripp kept making music and decided in 1981 to form a new band. After studying Eastern music and art, he decided that the new band would be named Discipline. These new influences are a stark contrast from the amalgamation of genres that Fripp had dabbled in previously. They would also mix well with new bandmates Adrian Belew and Tony Levin. He sought out former King Crimson drummer Bill Bruford to keep time with the new wave influences that the new group was playing with. Eventually, the band dropped the Discipline moniker and became King Crimson, reborn.
The Record Itself
Discipline is the first album in a trilogy, the other two albums being Beat and Three of a Perfect Pair. Discipline sets the tone for what the new King Crimson would represent. Gone are the woodwinds and Mellotrons of old, and in are Chapman Sticks and novelty guitar effects. Elephant Talk opens the album with a Chapman Stick solo played by Tony Levin. The stick is a double tapped multi-stringed instrument that must be seen to be believed. The instrument can create bass lines, chords, and alien sounds. This instrument compliments the thesaurus that Adrian Belew throws at the listener with synonyms of the word “talk”. He also creates a realistic sounding elephant cry with his guitar, all on top of a polyrhythmic drumbeat. The album continues with its dizzying musical gymnastics, each track topping the next.
The minimalist rear cover
The album does slow the tempo down for a moment with Matte Kudasi. The song floats like a hot air balloon in the night sky, illuminated only by fireflies and the moon. The gentle guitar floats above the finger picked rhythm line with soft pulses from the bass remind you of the time signature. Bill Bruford demonstrates brilliant restraint, limiting his drumming to simple rim knocks and bass kicks.
The reissue of Discipline weighs in at a premium 180 grams. The glossy cover has hypnotic labyrinth-like art that the viewer can easily get lost in. The music is pressed perfectly, leaving absolutely no noise on the surface. This allows the highs and lows to stand out without any struggle. A visual feast combined with a quality pressing makes this a hard to pass reissue.
Is It Worth It?
Progressive rock is perhaps the most difficult genre for me to sell to anybody. It has an air of pretentiousness associated with other genres such as modern classical and jazz music. I for one do not take it so seriously, just simply enjoy the strange sounds and textures of a different world. In a world of four to the floor pop beats and processed everything, it is refreshing to hear music created for the sake of being music. A great addition to any collection.