THRAK (40th Anniversary CD/DVD Edition) – King Crimson
A decade had passed by since the release of the 1984 album Three Of A Perfect Pair and in 1994 Robert Fripp decided it was time for King Crimson to re-emerge once again. He did so by using the exact line up from the 80’s and adding two other musicians to it, and formed what was known as a double trio. Once again they too was also Americans. The band already had two guitarists with Robert Fripp and Adrian Belew and Fripp must of somehow thought it was only fair to bring in another bassist and drummer.
To accompany Tony Levin on the bass the Texan born War Guitar and Stick player Trey Gunn was brought in. Gunn was no stranger to Fripp at the time and had played with him in the mid 80’s in The League Of Crafty Guitarists. He also appeared on Toyah Wilcox’s 1991 solo album Ophelia’s Shadow. Fripp married Wilcox back in 1986 and in the same year of 1991 Fripp, Wilcox and Gunn also formed a band together called Sunday All Over the World and they made their one and only album in the same year entitled Kneeling at the Shrine.
Gunn had also played with Fripp on a couple of albums that Fripp had done in collaboration with David Sylvian. Both the albums they done was released in 1993. Gunn had also been a solo artist in his own right since 1985 and had played with many other bands and artists as a session player. To accompany Bill Bruford on drums Fripp brought in the California drummer from the pop band Mr. Mister who was a guy known as Pat Mastelotto. So just how did a pop drummer get into a band like King Crimson one might ask?. Well it was down to a bit of sheer luck and determination by Mastelotto himself.
Mastelotto‘s career goes back to the 70’s where he was a session player and got to play for quite a few well known artists before the band Mr. Mister were assembled in the 80’s. Oddly enough he was also a fan of King Crimson back in the 70’s, and when he was 17 he got to see them play live in 1973. Since then it was sort of a long time ambition and dream to get to play for them. As the story goes it all came about from an ad placed in an LA newspaper Mastelotto had spotted of some guy wanting to trade a Leslie Cabinet for some gear. Mastelotto had on occasions hired a Leslie Cabinet for use on his drums with his band from time to time, and he thought it would be a good idea to have one himself. So he traded a compressor for it, and the guy he traded it with happened to be a guitarist who had played with the The League Of Crafty Guitarists.
This guy he did the trade with also happened to be a good friend of Trey Gunn and it was during the time both Gunn and Fripp were working with David Sylvian that they were planning to go on a live tour, but they were having some problems with the drummer Jerry Marotta who played for them on the both albums they made. Basically he did not want to go on a live tour with them. The guy told Mastelotto that he might be interested and he quickly asked the guy for Gunn’s phone number to see if he could get the job so to speak.
It was on a Friday that Mastelotto made the call to Gunn asking for the managements contact number to see if he could get an audition. Has Gunn had never heard of him he told him not to bother, and that he would be wasting his time. Especially as the auditions were taking part in England on the following Wednesday. But Mastelotto persisted and not even knowing he would get the job, he still took the chance and flew to England for the audition. Their were quite a few drummers on the day auditioning to play on the tour including ex King Crimson member Michael Giles who was such an inspiration to Mastelotto. He even got to have a chat with him has he was up next after Mastelotto had played is audition. It was at this point that he thought he had not got the job. But the decision had to come from both Fripp and Sylvian and luckily for him he did get it.
When Fripp was putting together this 5th incarnation of King Crimson he originally wanted Jerry Marotta to partner alongside Bruford. But he turned the job down and that’s how Mastelotto ended up being in this line up of King Crimson. Prior to the release of King Crimson’s 11th studio album THRAK in 1995 the band made a mini album in the previous year entitled VROOOM. Much of the material from that ended up on the full blown album we have here.
The 40th Anniversary Edition Release…
The 40th Anniversary CD/DVD Edition of King Crimson’s 10th studio album THRAK was released in October 2015. It was also released in the form of a 12 Disc Box Set in the following month of November. The Box Set is still available to buy at around the price of £114. I myself opted for the much cheaper CD/DVD version and purchased it from Amazon for £14.89.
The Packaging & Artwork…
The packing is constructed out of the same material as with all these 40th Anniversary editions. They have been done slightly more on the cheap, but never the less do the job and look presentable. The booklet is also quite informative in relation to many others in these 40th Anniversary editions.
The artwork was done by Bill Smith though there is no information regarding what it is supposed to be. My own theory is that its perhaps a piece of corroded or broken metal from a car, the car bonnet perhaps. Whatever it actually is it could also of been used to say that the album THRAK was heavier and more dense with the material they wrote for it, and it was verging more towards the genre of Metal in some parts.
Beat (40th Anniversary CD/DVD) Review…
The 40th Anniversary CD/DVD Edition of THRAK by King Crimson comes with a CD that contains the new 2015 mixes of the album mixed by Jakko Jakszyk and Robert Fripp and Steve Wilson was not available for the mixes on this release. It also comes with a DVD that contains additional bonus material, but very little in the way of any real extras.
Speaking of very little extras. The CD does contain the new mixes of the original tracks from the album, but absolutely nothing in the way of any bonus tracks. I will say the new mixes do sound superb though.
The DVD Menu presents you with the option choices above to choose from and I must say that they went a little overboard here with them. This is because the last two choices in the list here are exactly the same as the first two on the list.
There is no difference at all simply because if you press the top selection “Play THRAK 2015” the next screen will present you with the same screen you get by pressing on the “THRAK 2015 (track list). So it was rather silly of them putting the last two items on the menu here at all.
By pressing on the “Audio Setup” on the main menu it presents with the choice of audio. By default its set LPCM Stereo. Both the stereo and 5.1 mixes are of the highest quality of 24/96K. The DVD also contains the 30th Anniversary Edition which is the original album that was remastered in 2002. This is only other bonus that comes with the DVD and comes with an audio format of 24/48K.
The 5.1 Mix.
No Steve Wilson for the 5.1 mix here and it was done by Jakko Jakszyk and Robert Fripp from the new remixes they done. I have to say I am just as impressed by the 5.1 mix and they have both done a staggering job with them.
Musicians & Credits…
Original album produced by King Crimson and David Bottrill. Engineer David Bottrill. Assistant recording engineer Russell Kearney. Original THRAK artwork Bill Smith. Package art cover design by Hugh O’ Donnell. Photography Tony Levin. Production assistant and digital editor David Singleton. Equipment and strategic services liaison John Sinks. Recorded at Real World Studios. Bath. England.
Robert Fripp: Guitar/Soundscapes/Mellotron.
Adrian Belew: Guitar/Voice/Words.
Tony Levin: Upright & Electric Basses/Backing Vocals.
Trey Gunn: Stick/Backing Vocals.
Bill Bruford: Acoustic & Electronic Percussions.
Pat Mastelotto: Acoustic & Electronic Percussions.
The Original Album Tracks Review…
The original album THRAK by King Crimson was released on the 3rd April 1995. The album was made up of 8 vocal tracks and 7 instrumentals making a total of 15 tracks all together, and had a playing time of 56 minutes 37 seconds. As to what the album’s title of THRAK means I honestly could not tell you. The one person you never want to ask either is Robert Fripp himself. Otherwise you will be there for an hour and half listening to him give you a lecture about it, and at the end you still will not get an answer (LOL).
Three of the most popular answers has to what the word means I found came from the THRAK Live Tour Programme and they was all quoted by Robert Fripp. They are as follows:
1. 56 minutes and 37 seconds of songs and music about love, dying, redemption and mature guys who get erections.
2. A sudden and precise impact moving from intention, direction and commitment, in service of an aim.
3. The sound of 117 guitars almost striking the same chord simultaneously.
In my research I also came across answer from another source stating that it was the word he gave to his Mellotron. I am sure whatever it means Fripp will take it with him to his grave. The one thing I can tell you myself is that there is no doubt that King Crimson were once again a force and made a remarkable comeback since their last release of Three Of A Perfect Pair back in 1984. The break had done them the world of good. A break is perhaps what they should of had after making their 1991 album Discipline in all respects. The material that was written for THRAK if anything was a carbon copy of the album Discipline and once again the band had found the right formula regarding song writing and come up with the goods.
Track 1. Vrooom.
The first of the 7 instrumental tracks on the album opens up with the mellotron playing a short intro that is reminiscent with the 40’s it even sounds like it’s coming from one of those old wooden vintage radios. The intro lasts all of 27 seconds and then it unleashes it’s heavy power upon you and explodes into action.
The piece features heavy guitar riffs that are familiar with older tracks such as “Larks’ Talk In Aspic Part 2” and “Red“. Clanking heavy drums and percussion familiar with the stone age and the Flintsones bashing around in Bedrock and bass lines that make great deep grooves on vinyl records. It also has a lovely melodic come down section in the middle too and is a superb track.
It’s also a none stop track and Bruford’s roll on the drums at the end lead it into the next track very well too. “Vrooom” is very much a contender for the top spot on the album and is as good as those older tracks I mentioned too.
Track 2. Coda: Marine 475.
The tailspin from the opening track is a coda. Originally this piece was also part of the opening track “Vrooom” that was on the mini album that they released before this album. For this album they decided to make it into 2 tracks instead of the 1. Nothing as been altered either.
Even though it’s not marked down as an instrumental piece, it’s not a song either, and merely the voice is used here to speak out some numbers relating to the title. The numbers on a co-ordinance map perhaps and its sort of like being in a submarine with its dramatic approach.
Track 3. Dinosaur.
The first of the songs on the album also happens to be the longest track on the album too. It’s another excellent well written and worked out song and just as “Elephant Talk” was my favourite track on the album Discipline. “Dinosaur” happens to be my favourite track on this album too, and merits my top spot award.
It’s a song they do great live on the stage and is really great to watch as well. The song has an excellent come down section in the middle that features Adrian Belew playing the keyboard parts on his guitar. It also has a great little silent pause before unleashing itself into sheer bliss. Belew plays a massive part on this one and “I Like It”.
Track 4. Walking on Air.
Well I did say that the album THRAK was a carbon copy of Discipline and here we have another truly fantastic ballad of a song just like “Matte Kudasai” only this one also has the feel of a Beatles song about it. I love how Belew reaches the highs with his voice on this song and he expresses his own words superbly. The song also contains gorgeous guitar tones and is pure class. Very much a very strong contender for the top spot on the album this one, and a truly great bit of song writing.
Track 5. B’Boom.
Another great dramatic instrumental piece that gives one the feel that they are in some desolate haunting railway station, and the ghost train is waiting for you to board it on the platform so to speak. The piece is constructed from one of Fripp’s familiar type of soundscapes, and features both Bruford and Mastelotto bashing out the drums to represent the train running along the tracks. A bit reminiscent to the same sort of thing Yes did back in 1973 in the middle section of the “Ritual” from their Tales From Topographic Oceans album.
Track 6. THRAK.
The self titled album track is perhaps the heaviest instrumental piece on the album. Here the band are bashing out the chaotic mayhem and noise in more of a metal thrashing style and it has a sort of I don’t really give a shit sort of attitude about it all. If you ever want the cobwebs cleaned out of your ears so to speak, blast this one out and it will do the job :))))). Thankfully its only a short track and they have not dragged it out long enough to make your ears bleed (LOL).
Track 7. Inner Garden, Pt. 1.
A short haunting song about autumn that comes in 2 parts. Both of the parts have been constructed very much the same musically and only the words are slightly different. It’s quite a good little song and it gives the impression that this section of the album has been done in the way of some sort of a concept with the tracks that are about to follow it.
Track 8. People.
Another really great song the band often played live. “People” is a very well structured song that has quite a funky bit of fusion about it. It can be perhaps seen as more of a commercial song, but there is nothing wrong with that when it’s done as good as this one is. It features some well good bass grooves and interplay between Levin and Gunn and I would of expected musically the song was conceived and written around their bass lines. No doubt another contender for the top spot on the album.
Track 9. Radio, Pt. 1.
Another one of those little intervals between the main tracks on the album that comes in 2 parts. Once again it’s an haunting soundscape and quite an haunting bit of noise. I have no idea why they titled the piece “Radio” unless it’s a dead one :))))))).
This in reality is what I call a gap filler and nothing more. I am not really one for soundscapes I am afraid. Though thankfully its only 42 seconds long so this one is not really going to annoy me. I would also say that this type of material does not belong on an album like this and is very much out of place. King Crimson really should make their mind up if they want to make a real album or one for films. You cannot combine the two together. It simply does not work I am afraid.
Track 10. One Time.
A song that has a great calmness to it all and another very well written song. It’s another song that the band play live a lot and no doubt the band are churning out some quality songs on this album. Putting it in between the 2 soundscapes really does not do the album any justice, and this is yet another contender for the top spot on the album.
Track 11. Radio, Pt. 2.
(Read Track 9.)
Track 12. Inner Garden, Pt. 2.
The 2nd part of the haunting song about autumn and the garden, and these nice little ditties are quite pleasing and say a lot more and work a damn site better than what the two parts of “Radio” ever did on that score.
Track 13. Sex Sleep Eat Drink Dream.
Another excellent song with an excellent bass groove and great up-tempo feel about it. It’s the last of the written songs for the album and another superb song the band play live too. It shows great diversity and aggression and is another high contender for the top spot on the album.
Track 14. VROOOM VROOOM & Track 15. VROOOM VROOOM: Coda.
The album finishes off in the same great style it opened up with the last 2 instrumental pieces on the album. “VROOOM VROOOM” is more or less the same has the opening track “Vrooom” only it’s more like an extended version and a bit longer.
There is quite a few seconds of silence placed at the end of the track before the last track “VROOOM VROOOM: Coda” starts and is if they have placed it has a secret album track. The last track is also different in relation to the 2nd track on the album “Coda: Marine 475” and they have included a soundscape on the intro and slowed it right down and taken out the spoken words. In reality the last two tracks on the album are very much like bonus tracks that have alternative mixes, and that’s how they should of really placed them on the album too.
The 40th Anniversary Edition of King Crimson’s 1995 album THRAK may contain really nothing in the way of bonus material, but is certainly an album well worthy of buying again just for the 5.1 mix on the DVD. The new stereo mixes are also very well done too, and this release is quality.
The album THRAK is certainly one of King Crimson’s better albums. Take away “Radio (Parts 1 & 2)” and it’s very much what I would consider a solid album with the rest of material they wrote for it. It’s certainly on par with their 1981 album Discipline and is more or less a carbon copy with how close the well written material sounds and comes across. It even contains more songs with vocals than that album too, and they are all very well written and very good.
Though the album THRAK was intended to be done with a double trio in mind, effectively it was only ever a double trio when they worked out how to play the material live as a 6 piece band and got to perform it that way on stage.
The album itself was recorded with each member going into a room and recording their parts individually. It’s also said that the album was mixed so that when played in stereo, if you turn the balance to the left you will hear the parts played by Adrian Belew. Tony Levin and Bill Bruford. By turning it to the right you will hear Robert Fripp. Trey Gunn and Pat Mastelotto.
THRAK is quite a remarkable album done with a very impressive line of King Crimson. The band went on to tour in 1995 playing the material mainly from this album and the material from their 1991 album Discipline.
In 1999 they released their first ever live concert footage on DVD which was taken from the live performances they played in Japan in 1995. They titled the DVD Déjà Vrooom and still till this day I regard it as the best ever quality live footage there is out there of King Crimson.
King Crimson were no doubt once again a force to be reckoned with in 1995. OK it’s perhaps not up their with what they did in the 70’s but never the less it was an exciting and impressive line up they had here.
The band have always been a bit of an hit and miss regarding the albums they produced and churned out throughout their entire career to be honest. No doubt the the bands line up between 1972 – 1974 was more of a solid one that made 3 very good albums, and that perhaps is their most highest point of their career.
But I still cannot fault both the albums Discipline and THRAK. They are a different breed that made them with their more modern approach, but for me personally they are up with their very best albums too. They are both what I would call solid albums.
I’m A Dinosaur, Somebody Is Digging My Bones…
The CD track listing is as follows:
01. VROOOM. 4:34.
02. Coda: Marine 475. 2:36.
03. Dinosuar. 6:38.
04. Walking on Air. 4:43.
05. B’Boom. 4:10.
06. THRAK. 3:59.
07. Inner Garden, Pt. 1. 1:47.
08. People. 5:51.
09. Radio, Pt. 1. 0:42.
10. One Time. 5:22.
11. Radio, Pt. 2. 0:57.
12. Inner Garden, Pt. 2. 1:16.
13. Sex Sleep Eat Drink Dream. 4:49.
14. VROOOM VROOOM. 5:49.
15. VROOOM VROOOM: Coda. 2:57.