A Scarcity Of Miracles is given extra kudos in that it has been given the tag line “A King Crimson ProjecKt” owing to its numerous connections to the KC family tree. Aside from that it has its own drawing power simply through the respect its five contributors command within the world of modern progressive rock.
Long awaited by many including this writer, the arrival of this album will disappoint those expecting a loud KC type improv thang, but most folk I would hope have approached this with no preconceptions. My first impressions are of a late summer evening’s contemplative listen. Fully formed songs have arisen out of dreamy soundscapes lent a warm glow by Mel Collins’ mellifluous sax playing. The lyrics, which one assumes are probably mainly the work of Jakko Jakszyk and possibly Tony Levin hint at loss and regret and decay and dark nights of the soul, but the organic and emotionally warm music means it never gets depressing. Judging by the numerous meteorological references I can only surmise that the main lyricist must live here in the UK!
Instrumentally, no-one gets to go off on a tangent and the whole thing is, well, lovely, and definitely the sum of its parts rather than a showcase for individual indulgence. The Price We Pay features Jakko’s Gu Zheng which is really the only instrumentation one could describe as exotic, to Western ears at least. Tony Levin’s trusty bass and Chapman Stick underpin everything with a sonic hug. Gavin Harrison’s drumming is down in the mix, and a bit like a good referee in a football match he never intentionally plays a starring role. This man is a perfect example of the drummers’ most prized skill, that of “less is more”. The Other Man has a Japan-like quality, Levin sounding like Mick Karn, then Fripp enters with a brief burst of traditional Frippisms, but quietly. Certainly the most complex song on the album, Collins’ sax then weaves in and out of a shifting time signature, Fripp and Jakko joining in. At just under six minutes, it ain’t long enough! In fact my only small gripe is that at 43 minutes the album feels like it should be about ten minutes longer.
A bit like a good claret, this album has to be given the attention it deserves in order to be fully savoured and appreciated, and it will leave you well satisfied after consumption. One of the best albums of the year so far in my humble opinion.
For less than £2 more than the standard cd issue, get the dvd/cd issue which as well as the standard cd features a great sounding 5:1 surround sound mix, and alternate takes of most of the songs, two impovs from Fripp/Jakszyk and the video for the title track.
1. A Scarcity Of Miracles
2. The Price We Pay
4. This House
5. The Other Man
6. The Light Of Day
Robert Fripp – Guitars, Soundscapes
Mel Collins – Alto & Soprano Saxophones & Flute
Jakko M Jakszyk – Guitar, Vocals, Gu Zheng & Keyboards
Tony Levin – Bass & Chapman Stick
Gavin Harrison – Drums & Percussion
4 out of 5