Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Song #26 of 9999 - Frame by Frame by King Crimson

Song #26 of 9999

Title: Frame by Frame
Artist: King Crimson
Year: 1981
Album: Discipline

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King Crimson is one of those prog rock bands that always seemed to have a new lineup featuring a different permutation of members who were already or previously in the band or on loan from some other similar band like Yes, Emerson, Lake and Palmer or U.K. But for three glorious albums with primary colored covers, the band maintained the consistent and perfectly balanced lineup of Adrian Belew, Robert Fripp, Tony Levin and Bill Bruford. Belew's quirky lyrics and singing style coupled with his hyperactive whammy bar guitar-playing seemed the ideal counterpoint to Fripp's experimental electronic noise and sustained moto perpetuo style. Levin's thumpy bass filled in the bottom of the rhythm section, allowing Bruford to place his focus on the snare and hi-hat where he likes it. They created a sound that sounds fresh even thirty years later and is emulated by so many progressive bands today, most notably Radiohead.

"Frame by Frame" is a good example of the style that emanated so naturally from this pair of duos with its emphasis on tritone-tinged guitar strikes, metric technical precision and windshield wiper effect polyrhythms. It could have easily stood on its own as an instrumental, but Belew manages to layer a vocal track over the 7/8 meter that seems a natural fit while the backing vocals almost make you believe you're listening to a pop song. If you haven't heard Discipline in its entirety, I highly recommend it. And if you like it, don't hesitate to pick up the other two records and complete your set of one of the classic trilogies in progressive popular music.

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