Tuesday, November 6, 2018

King Crimson - 2002 "Happy with What You Have to Be Happy With"

Happy with What You Have to Be Happy With is an EP by the band King Crimson released in 2002, a companion to the subsequent album The Power to Believe (2003).

This mini-album of mostly short tracks, including one hidden unlisted track, is more song-centered than other Crimson releases, and acts as an appetizer for the full-length studio album, THE POWER TO BELIEVE (2003). Featuring Adrian Belew, Robert Fripp, Pat Mastelotto and Trey Gunn.

EP version of "Happy with What You Have to Be Happy With" is longer by one chorus. "Eyes Wide Open" is an acoustic version. Alternative versions of these tracks can be found on The Power to Believe. "Larks' Tongues In Aspic Part IV" is from the "Live In Nashville, TN" Collectors' Club release.

The relationship between this EP and King Crimson's Power to Believe (2003) long-player mirrors that of the six-track Vrooom (1994) sampler and subsequent full-length release Thrak (1994). The music perfectly contrasts the primarily instrumental and live Level Five (2001) EP by honing in on the latest lyrical contributions from Adrian Belew (guitar/vocals).

The disc begins with "Bude," the first in a series of short spoken verses incorporating an electronically manipulated and harmonized Belew. The result is similar to the voice box effect used by Peter Frampton on "Do You Feel Like We Do?." This slams headlong into the thrashing title track, which is not too far removed from the angst-ridden alternative metal from the likes of Therapy?, Tool, and Rammstein.

In true Belew style, he incongruously twists the subject matter into a sonically aggressive backdrop, cleverly dissecting his craft as a singer/songwriter, exemplified in the lyrics: "And when I have some words/This is the way I'll sing/Through a distortion box/To make them menacing." "Mie Gakure" is a two-minute meditative soundscape interlude from Robert Fripp (guitar). While the necessitation for brevity is duly noted for this release, interested parties are emphatically encouraged to seek any of Fripp's full-length soundscapes -- such as Blessing of Tears (1995), November Suite (1996), and Gates of Paradise (1998).

She Shudders -- another of Belew's harmonized haikus -- prefaces an acoustic version of a second new tune, "Eyes Wide Open." This is without a doubt one of the most lyrically poignant and musically refined tunes in the King Crimson repertoire, taking its rightful place alongside tracks such as "One Time" or "Frame by Frame." Belew's vocals hang ethereally over the languid, inspired instrumentation. "Potato Pie" is a moody and dark blues containing angular chord structures as well as some symbiotic fretwork from Fripp and Belew. A live version of the fourth installment in the "Larks' Tongues in Aspic" saga concludes the ensemble endeavors on this disc.

These tracks are couched between the final pair of Belew's brief vocalizations. Likewise, there is a hidden and untitled cut-and-paste pastiche consisting of incidental musical and spoken-word odds and ends taken from the recording sessions. Sandwiched between rehearsal snippets of the title track and "ConstruKction of Light" there is a bit of Belew doggerel titled "Einstein's' Relatives." These sonic scraps conclude with the final strains of "In the Court of the Crimson King," performed live by an uncredited vocal chorale.

There's a little of everything here: head banging, blues, metal, and poetry represent a wide variety of styles that would simply leave less talented bands adrift far, far out at sea. Crimson pulls it off brilliantly. This eclectic mix is stitched together by short vocal and instrumental vignettes that add a dose of continuity and coherence without intruding on the whole experience. This allows each episode to stand apart without ever falling apart.

The jewel in the crown this time out is the latest installment in the "Lark's Tongues' " canon. Unlike so many imitators, Crimson is able to cut loose and stay together all at once. The compositional complexity is finally matched to a wild sense of freedom: nothing constrained, precious or small-minded about what's happening here. An incredible fury pointed right between your ears. No doubt -- hear this and you'll have the power to believe.

Track listing:

01. "Bude" (Adrian Belew) – 0:26
02. "Happy with What You Have to Be Happy With" (Belew, Fripp, Gunn, Mastelotto) – 4:12
03. "Mie Gakure" (見え隠れ Appear and Disappear) (Belew, Fripp) – 2:00
04. "She Shudders" (Belew) – 0:35
05. "Eyes Wide Open" (Belew, Fripp, Gunn, Mastelotto) – 4:08
06. "Shoganai" (しょうがない It Can't be Helped) (Belew) – 2:53
07. "I Ran" (Belew) – 0:40
08. "Potato Pie" (Belew, Fripp, Gunn, Mastelotto) – 5:03
09. "Larks' Tongues in Aspic (Part IV)" (Belew, Fripp, Gunn, Mastelotto) – 10:26
   "I Have a Dream"
 Recorded live at 328 Performance Hall, Nashville, USA, November 2001
10. "Clouds" (Belew) – 4:11
 The song "Clouds" ends at 0:30. The hidden track "Einstein's Relatives" starts at 1:00, after 30 seconds of silence.


Robert Fripp – guitar
Adrian Belew – guitar, vocals
Trey Gunn – Warr guitar, bass guitar
Pat Mastelotto – drums, electronic percussion

1 comment:

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