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The Letters - 2004 - "An Unconventional Italian Guide to King Crimson"

(79 + 81 + 26 min: 3CD, Mellow)

TRACK LIST:                             

Disc 1 "Virtuous Circle":
1.  Frame by Frame ('81) - Stefano Bollani
2.  Doctor Diamond ('74 Live) - Germinale
3.  The Talking Drum ('73) - Nema Niko 
4.  Cat Food ('70-1) - Spyrosfera
5.  Discipline ('81) - Caimi / Menotti / Roversi
6.  One More Red Nightmare ('74-2) - Soundvision
7.  Sailor's Tale ('71) - Anatrofobia
8.  One Time ('95) - Tilion  
9.  Larks' Tongues in Aspic-2 ('73) - Taproban
10. Inner Garden-1&2 ('95) - Three Of A Charming Pair
11. The Great Deceiver ('74-1) - Prophecy 
12. Formentera Lady ('71) - Giardini D'Autunno
13. Starless ('74-2) - Psychonoesis

Disc 2 "When I Say Stop, Continue":
1.  Epitaph ('69) - Goud
2.  Lady of the Dancing Water ('70-2) - Costa/ Mambrini/ Piazzi
3.  Pictures of a City ('70-1) - Jet Lag
4.  Prince Rupert Awakes ('70-2) - Ubi Maior
5.  Providence ('74-2) - L'Imbroglio
6.  I Talk to the Wind ('69) - Malibran 
7.  Exiles ('73) - Floating State
8.  Cadence & Cascade ('70-1) - Notturno Concertante
9.  Larks' Tongues in Aspic-1 ('73) - Greenwall
10. Moonchild ('69) - Caboto
11. Matte Kudasai ('81) - The Slowmovies
12. In the Court of the Crimson King ('69) - Zaq 
13. Sex Sleep Eat Drink Dream ('95) - Mariposa

Disc 3 "This Night Wounds Time":
1.  Red ('74-2) - Mosaic Orchestra
2.  We'll Let You Know + Fracture ('74-1) - Comfort
3.  Lament ('74-1) - Nodo Giordano
4.  The Great Deceiver ('74-1) - Area Palea

Produced by M Moroni, M Giordano, 
A Mariotti, & D Pivato. Mastered by M Olivotti.

Prolusion. Well, here is another tribute to one of the most influential progressive bands of all time, King Crimson, which, however, goes under the exclusive brand name "Made in Italy". The first two CDs run about 80 minutes each, while the third is only 26 minutes in length. I am sure that the set is available by the price of a double CD or even lower.

Analysis. Thirty Italian bands present twenty-nine different works of King Crimson, covering most of the full-length albums that the Legend released from 1969 to 1995. Only "Beat" and "Three of a Perfect Pair" don't have their representatives in this show, while The Great Deceiver occupies two 'seats'. Of course, it would've been something marvelous, but if I had never listened to King Crimson (and I've listened to all of their albums) I would say that this is probably the best Art-Rock-related album released after the vintage progressive era ended, as the music is brilliant of course, and there's so much! Thanks to the fact that the material was recorded in Italy (I mean, exclusively by Italian performers), it often sounds much like an album of a unified stylistics, which makes it in many ways an outstanding effort. Most of the tracks presented were performed with all the instruments available on the original songs and even more (which I will point out below). Some of them sound harsh and heavy, like the originals. However, the warmth, which is so typical for Italy's Progressive, resides in most of them, which, in its turn, seems to be logical rather than vice versa. The playing is well executed and is imaginative enough to make the songs sound not as just covers. In other words, most of the tracks appear as real renderings, kind of autographed versions of the originals, with some new instruments and arrangements added, which is especially evident on the tracks taken from "Discipline" and "Thrak". A wide expanse for pianists' freedom, these are vastly and, what's central, really aptly enriched by different keyboards, all the parts of which were specifically arranged, of course. The only exception in this respect is the title track of "Red", performed by Mosaic Orchestra. Here, instead of the harsh electric guitar riffs as on the original, the lines of the main themes are drawn by rather soft passages of synthesizer. Otherwise everything is all right if not great.

Conclusion. The classic King Crimson songs presented sound very good, and I especially liked those with extra instruments and arrangements. This is also a great opportunity to hear a lot of new, unknown and little known Italian bands and performers at once. King Crimson addicts might be happy, though I'd recommend the album above all to novice progressive music lovers. Well, it will be popular without doubts and my additional recommendations as well.

VM: January 10, 2005

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