Thrak For My Daddyo… The THRAK Box Set Reviewed

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King Crimson’s fifth touring incarnation, the “double trio” formation, coalesced in 1994 and gigged until 1996. After 1997 rehearsals in Nashville were derailed by recurrent friction between Robert Fripp and Bill Buford, the band “frakctalised” into four “Projekcts”, sub-groups charged with evolving repertoire for “The Greater Krim”… which, in the event, declined to reassemble itself.

From this brief period in Crimson history Fripp managed to conjure the mini-album Vrooom (which helped to finance…)… the fully fledged album Thrak… several live recordings and a couple of live DVDs, plus various recordings of The Projekcts (all of these released generally and / or via the Crimson Collectors’ Club.) Not a bad haul from a short-lived band that set itself ambitious aims and never really fulfilled them. But you ain’t heard nothing yet…

Epic Crimson box sets have become de rigour in recent pre-Xmas release slates. Ozymandias is still getting his head around the Larks’ Tongues, Road To Red and Starless – Live In Europe collections. Now the Thrak box has arrived with a resounding thwak on the Boot Room welcome mat, comprising 16 (CD, DVD and BD) Discs, a 40 page glossy booklet, posters and sundry bits of other memorabilia. The musical content presents a bewildering array of material in various mixes and formats, conflating new and previously available stuff, remade and remodelled according to the kaleidoscopic vision of Fripp and DGM eminence gris Dave Singleton. The live footage comprises a newly discovered gig from San Francisco’s Warfield Theatre (26.06.95) together with the band’s dates at the Nakano Sun Plaza in Tokyo  (05/06.10.95), the latter looking suspiciously like what has already been released on the Deja Vrooom DVD (though with less of the interactive features boasted by that disc, rather more vaseline on the lens and perhaps a more frenetic assemblage of shots… dunno, will have to find time to do a proper compare-and-contrast.)

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So far I’ve managed to leaf through the booklet and ephemera while listening to the 5.1 Blu-ray audio mix of Thrak, masterminded by current Crim Jakko Jakszyk. As is always the way with any surround sound mix worth its sonic salt, any amount of previously unnoticed subtleties were revealed to me. Sterling work, Mr Jakszyk! When the opportunity presents itself, I’ll commence the daunting task of consuming the rest of this box by listening to Jurassikc Thrak, a disc of the eponymous album as work-in-progress (which I doubt will top… could anything ever top?… the corresponding platter on the Larks’ Tongues box.) Then I’ll be checking out ATTAKcATHRAK, Singleton’s sequel to the improv montage THRaKaTTaK (1996), a record which I’ve only revisited when “in the mood” for it… i.e. hardly ever.

So that’s going to be a considerable investment of time (and has already been a not inconsiderable investment of money) in what has always been one of my least favourite King Crimson line-ups. Jeez, that Fripp guy could sell snow to frickin’ eskimos…

This review previously appeared on the now defunct Bootroom Of Ozymandias blog… and yes, I’m still working my way through the THRAK box!

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Categories: Box Sets | 1 Comment

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One thought on “Thrak For My Daddyo… The THRAK Box Set Reviewed

  1. Philip Broomhead

    Yes, I agree with the sentiment that the ‘Crimson Box Sets’ are worth every penny of investment. However, the Nakano Sun Plaza in Tokyo DVD does look suspiciously like the Deja Vroom on first viewing, time will tell. Having listened to the London gig (re-mastered by Jakko), the new remix does reveal subtleties in the recording. But the real delights of this box sets are undoubtedly, Jurassic Thrak, Maximum Vroom and the complete recordings of the band’s concerts at New York and Mexico City. There’s enough in this box set to satisfy any Crimson fan and I heartily recommend you (if you haven’t done so already), to go out and purchase it.

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