Critic's Pick

Nothing about the most recent King Crimson album -- last year's rather inert ConstruKction of Light -- hints at the unstoppable power of the band's live shows, where disciplined musicianship and unbridled fun collide in a shower of sparks. The group's mercurial leader, guitarist Robert Fripp, has altered the lineup yet again (this time Crimson is touring as a quartet, leaving bassist Tony Levin and drummer Bill Bruford at home), forging a leaner, less cluttered sound. Since the group's inception in 1969, Fripp has dissolved and rebuilt King Crimson countless times, shuttling musicians in and out, most recently breaking the group into smaller, "fractalised" units; at this point he's partnered with singer and guitarist Adrian Belew, stick wizard Trey Gunn, and drummer Pat Mastelotto. Don't expect Fripp to take bows or indulge in show-offy solos: He'll be perched on a stool in the shadows, spinning out his crafty, spiraling sonic architecture. These monsters of prog, who can play circles around any other collection of musicians on the globe, provide a textbook example of controlled excess.

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