Asakusa Kokusai Gekijo, Tokyo, Japan – December 15, 1981
Disc 1 (43:10) Frippertronics Walk On, Discipline, Thela Hun Ginjeet, Red, Matte Kudasai, The Sheltering Sky, Frame By Frame
Disc 2 (47:55) Neurotica, Indiscipline, Band Introduction, Neal And Jack And Me, Elephant Talk, Encore Anticipation, Larks Tongues In Aspic Part II, After The Show
The reformed King Crimson played their inaugural live performances in Japan during a nine date tour in December 1981. The famous taper of the Far East, Mr. Peach taped several of the concerts and the Tarantura label has released a few to this point, Discipline In Shibuya (Tarantura TCDKC-4-1,2), Discipline In Asakusa (Tarantura TCDKC-8-1,2), and The Last Night 1981 (Tarantura TCDKC-12-1,2). Their newest release features the sixth show of the tour featuring King Crimson playing the 3,800 seat Asakusa Kokusai Gekijo. As mentioned the source is an excellent recording done by Mr. Peach, he was close to the stage as this features excellent balance with each instrument being clear and detailed in the mix. The mastering has been excellently done by Enigma who brings out the best in the source tapes, this is a joy to listen to, an awe inspiring revelation to my ears.
Over the past few years I have been dipping my toes into the music of King Crimson, the Larks Tongue In Aspic, Starless and Bible Black, Red period albums plus many of the King Crimson Collectors Club releases 1972 through 1974, never stepping outside this time frame save for a couple of 1969 and 1971 titles. I always wondered why Bill Bruford quit Yes, after listening to the dark instrumental improvisations of King Crimson, I completely understood. This new title by Tarantura was my first listen to the reformed era of King Crimson which began in 1981 and ended just three years later in 1984. I have to admit my motivation for this purchase was to listen to Enigma’s mastering of a Peach recording, and I was not disappointed in either the mastering or more importantly, the incredible music played.
The setlist features the entire Discipline album plus two new songs, Neal And Jack And Me and Neurotica, from the follow up Beat with just two songs from their 70’s output. Robert Fripp’s noodling Frippertonics begins the proceedings, ambient instrumental followed by the full band arriving for Discipline. For a four piece the music is dense and on first listen shocking in its power and creativity. Tony Levin’s bass causes a very small amount of distortion well handled by Enigma and does not overpower, it lends to the sheer force of the instrumentation. I was pleasantly surprised on how Adrian Belew’s singing reminded me of John Wetton, Thela Hun Ginjeet being the first song of the set with vocals. A monster take on Red that is quite fierce in its delivery, a modern interpretation with Tony Levin playing complex rhythm to match Bruford’s percussion. The ten plus minute version of The Sheltering Sky is a blueprint of ambient soundscapes that is meant to relax and provoke reflection.
Frame By Frame is complex in its framework, Levin’s playing is masterfully sublime and is beyond description, focused and fully a lead instrument on the track, a clear example on why Robert Fripp chose him to be the bassist for this and later projects. Neurotica is introduced as a “new song from the next King Crimson album” and continues with a similarly complex structure as Frame By Frame. Adrian Belew’s sonic abrasive guitar, the clarity of the recording allows for one to hear the interplay of all four and how each blend their playing into a cohesive form. Indiscipline offers a sort of calming effect, so much that afterwards Belew asks the audience if they’d like to stand up and move around, the band still not accustomed to the Japanese audiences. Neal And Jack And Me is the second new song, music and lyrics being inspired by the great road books by Neal Cassady and Jack Kerouac is rather catchy. Careful what you ask for, during the beginning of Elephant Talk, Belew asks the audience to stop standing on the seats or they’ll have to pay for them!
There is a short break during which announcements are made and the band return for a modernized version of Larks Tongue In Aspic part II, while not straying too far from the original the new line up puts their stamp on it, particularly Levin whose bass is simply thunderous and Belew whose guitar is razor sharp. A short but killer flurry from Bill’s drums signals the ending of the piece coupled with a bit of feedback makes for a corrosive excellent ending that gets a major round of applause. Peach leaves his recording going for nearly seven minutes capturing post concert cheering and P.A. soundscape. Incredible musicianship and performance.
The packaging is standard Tarantura, a full color gatefold sleeve featuring an official band picture superimposed over the sadly long gone venue. The interior is an excellent full live shot plus pictures of the master tapes and ticket stub, let’s not forget the OBI, a typically beautiful package indicative of the label. I was pretty much blown away by the music of Discipline era King Crimson found on this release. Excellent performance, mastering, and packaging that will serve as motivation to seek out the other Peach recordings from this tour.