ARTIST: KING KRIMSON
LABEL (YEAR): WARNER BROS (1981)
FOR FANS OF: TALKING HEADS, RUSH, DAVID BYRNE
Words by Chris Gaduzo
What do you do when a genre you kickstarted has run its course? Apparently, when your name is Robert Fripp, you team up with Adrian Belew from Talking Heads and write one of the most innovative, mind-fuck albums of the eighties. Not content with writing some of the best progressive rock of the seventies, King Crimson barged into the next decade with Discipline; their first studio release in seven years with a new line up and a sound that was, at the very least, interesting.
I always tell people to listen to this album twice. Upon first listen, this pretty much sounds like a standard eighties new wave album. The straightforward ‘Thela Hun Ginjeet’ and funk of ‘Elephant Talk’ are pretty damn catchy, built around Tony Levin's incredible Chapman Stick and Adrian Belew's inventive guitar playing and semi-improvised vocals.
It’s on the second listen that things get a bit scary. What instrument is actually responsible for those runs on ‘Frame by Frame’? In what time signature are those riffs on ‘Indiscipline’? Is that a guitar or a synth on ‘The Sheltering Sky’? Only King Crimson could somehow disguise ridiculous musical showmanship under the cover of new wave. Bill Bruford’s drumming is even more creative than ever, utilising electric and programmed percussion on the majority of the tracks. On ‘Thela Hun Ginjeet’, Adrian Belew's tape recorded vocals claim “it’s weird…”, I can’t help but agree. It must also be noted that the guitar work is mind-boggling, especially on title track ‘Discipline’.
Though perhaps not as iconic as In The Court of The Crimson King or Red, Discipline nevertheless shows King Crimson at their most exciting and inventive. The best bands are those that can disguise their technicality under good songwriting, and on Discipline, King Crimson succeed.