King Crimson

Eyes Wide Open

BY Roman SokalPublished Mar 1, 2004

This is an almost perfect double-disc set that provides an interesting glimpse (and then some) of one of the world's most mystical and self-aware bands. Consisting of two videotaped concerts (one from a Japanese television broadcast from 2003 and a rare UK show from 2000), one can trace the lightning quick development (complete with what they deem as "clams," aka mistakes) that this band has gone through since their reformation and reconstruction in 1994. The Japanese portion showcases material from their latest album, The Power To Believe, and though the visual action (aided/deterred by questionable direction and camera coverage) is somewhat dodgy, the sonic quality is stupendous, dynamically and clearly displaying the dramatic, cinematic songwriting and textures they have mastered. The 2000 show, originally shot in a sort of voyeuristic fashion (and in stereo-only), and was intended to be part of a pay-per-view online series (a business idea that never took flight due to the slow pace of emerging download technologies), contains a more varied, almost pubescent look into their semi-current repertoire and contains many improvs that are randomly inserted by DVD play list scripting technology that makes each viewing a treat. The audience is less restrained than the placid Japanese crowd, and thus the energy level is more electric. Both shows certainly give proof that this group is among the best at creating music (amongst other progressive-esque acts like Tool and Tomahawk) that purely rocks, scares, soothes and provides a few chuckles when least expected. Their dynamic skills go beyond the music as well. To see guitarist Robert Fripp sitting gracefully, almost perfectly still, yet shredding with molten licks is just one reason to get this collection of the band in a scenario that they both fear yet adore being in. Plus: Tokyo show camera and sound check, and special "Improvising Crimson" section. (Sanctuary/EMI)

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