Ever wonder what the follow-up album to King Crimson's classic "Red" might have sounded like had Fripp not dismantled the group in 1974?
True enough, Fripp resurrected his Crimson beast numerous times throughout the decades, making wholesale changes in both style and personnel. But it was that span between "Larks Tongue In Aspic" (1973) and the albums "Starless And Bible Black" and "Red" (both released in 1974) in which King Crimson established a sound like no other - controlled chaos - combining thunderous dynamics, moody Mellotron drenched splendor, bombastic percussion, electric violin, and the frenetic metallic attack of Fripp's astounding guitarwork. Fripp himself once described the band's sonic assault as "a flying brick wall".
It was this classic incarnation of King Crimson that brought down the house on the evening of September 29th, 1973 at the Chicago Auditorium Theater, where my wife and I were in attendance celebrating our 6th Anniversary.
Well forty one years have passed and we're still together, and the memory of that evening flooded back to me as I slipped the self-titled debut album from "Spoke Of Shadows" into my CD player.
What would the follow-up to "Red" sound like?
It would sound like this ... "Spoke Of Shadows"!
Spoke Of Shadows is a collaborative project from multi-instrumentalist Mark Cook and drummer Bill Bachman. Together they have re-animated that progressive rock monster of yore, dragging it kicking and screaming into the 21st Century with all the aplomb and sonic majesty as the original. Adding a few custom bells and whistles of their own, making it all shiny, new, and showroom fresh.
Mark Cook (Warr guitar, ADG fretless bass, guitar, and keyboards) is currently a member of the progressive rock band Herd Of Instinct. In the past he has performed with the electronic experimentation group 99 Names Of God as well as the psychedelic band Liquid Sound Company. His bombastic guitarwork on "Spoke Of Shadows" is highlighted by crunchy harmonic distortion, diatonic arpeggiated patterns, and dissonant minor scales.
Bill Bachman (drums and percussion) is a graduate of the Berklee College Of Music and author of four instructions books ("Stick Technique", "Rudimental Logic", "Quad Logic", and "Reefed Beats"), instructional videos, inventor of many drum products, and a columnist for Modern Drummer magazine. He has performed with Neal Morse (x-Spock's Beard) and Michael Harris. Bachman is a master technician, whether beating the Hell out of the skins with the manic fury of Keith Moon or easily maneuvering around complex poly-rhythmic patterns like Bill Bruford. His style is reminiscent of iconic drummer Jon Hiseman of Colosseum I & II.
"Spoke Of Shadows" is released on Djam Karet's Firepool Label, and Gayle Ellett lends a hand providing Mellotron and Rhodes Piano on the track "Splendid Sisters".
The complete line-up of guest musicians include: Joe Blair - guitar, Gayle Ellett - Rhodes and Mellotron (Djam Karet, Fernwood, Ukab Maerd), Bob Fisher - flute (Herd of Instinct), Michael Harris - guitar (Thought Chamber, solo artist), Jeff Plant - fretless bass (Alex Acuna, Conundrum, Thought Chamber), Tony Rohrbough - guitar (Byzantine), Dave Streett - Warr guitar (Herd of Instinct), and Shannon Wickline - piano (Charlie Daniels Band).
In between the sonic blitzkrieg of high energy tracks like "Tilting At Windmills" and "Dichotomy" (which closest resemble material on Crimson's "Red") are delicate and pastoral soundscapes like "Last One", "Persona", "Splendid Sisters" and "Images"- and the melodic jazz fusion track "One day" which features flute, piano, and Mellotron.
"Pain Maps" is a classical orchestral arrangement one might expect to hear from the likes of Robert John Godfrey and The Enid or Karda Estra - once again displaying the incredible versatility of the band.
The convergence of "Red" era Crimson evolving into the 1981- 84 line-up of Fripp, Adrian Belew, Bill Bruford, and Tony Levin can be heard on the tracks "Dominion", "Harbinger", and "Drama Of Display". These monstrous tracks have a "Three Of A Perfect Pair" vibe running throughout.
"Spoke Of Shadows" is highly recommended to fans of bands like King Crimson, Gordion Knot, Anekdoten, Bi Kyo Ran, Anglagard, and Djam Karet.
Reviewed by Joseph Shingler on February 22nd, 2014