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Reviewed by - Matt Rowe

King Crimson
Eyes Wide Open
Released: October 07, 2003
Origination Year: 2003
Time: 265 minutes
Tracks: 28 - 2 DVD
Produced by: Robert Fripp
Style: Live
Format: DVD
Enhancement: Bonus Features

The borders for Progressive Rock are incredibly vast if they exist at all.  It allows for distinction and expands the boundaries of musical brilliance unique to the capacities of a band and its members.  The count of progressive rock bands is large although none are in the mainstream.  Of course, all pointers inevitably come to rest upon the extraordinary abilities of King Crimson, the granddaddy of all prog-rock bands and the one clearly without any borders.

King Crimson is wrapped around the musical genius of Robert Fripp and then expanded outward to whoever finds themselves within its sphere.  Arguably, many will point to longtime guitarist/vocalist Adrian Belew as one of the necessary components to what makes King Crimson what they are today.  One could say that Adrian is the rock star persona that this band doesn’t otherwise project.

King Crimson is one of those bands that have weathered well with multiple lineup changes throughout the years.  And every lineup has left behind a unique legacy of its own.  The fan base will argue vehemently as to which Mark lineup was the superior breed but few will challenge the validity of this present incarnation.

Eyes Wide Open is a 2 DVD live set featuring 2 separate shows, one from April 2003 and another from July 2000.  With the present line up of Robert Fripp, Adrian Belew, Trey Gunn, and Pat Mastelotto, King Crimson’s free flowing musical exploration is fresh and always challenging the rules.  This is quietly watched over in a corner and away from the lights by Fripp.

The first disc is from the April 16, 2003 show in Tokyo and contains 14 songs, many of which are from this formation of KC.  This tour is in support of the latest album called The Power to Believe.  An exception is made for the very popular and decades old “Larks’ Tongues in Aspic: Part IV”, which is played on both discs.  The Japan show is quite loose and played off of each other with Fripp setting the tone.  This is then served to the audience by Belew with his usual exceptional quality.

The second disc showcases a show from July 3, 2000 in support of The ConstrucKction of Light.  It’s a larger audience than the first disc but the beautiful thing here is that the magnificence of the band is as evident as on the first disc, perhaps more so.  With 15 songs on the second disc, the entire set offers a wide selection of 23 songs with duplication of 6 tunes bringing the total to 29.  This works because KC’s performances of songs are different from show to show, a dynamic feature of the band.

The video footage here is not the best of quality and King Crimson makes no apologies for it.  In fact, the video quality is mentioned in the booklet as that which is honest and becomes the style of the band.  There are blurs and fuzziness, especially visible on the second disc, the London show.  Belew’s guitar actually seems neon in comparison to the rest of the images.  But again, King Crimson makes no apologies.  Interestingly, it’s what we’ve come to expect from KC, who is not a visual band but rather a celebration of a juxtapositions of sounds.

Sonically, the DVD set shines.  With Dolby Stereo or Dolby Surround choices, the audio is crystal clear and well…that is what we enjoy about King Crimson, what they bring to a song in terms of the construction of it.  However the selection of either is hidden from the main menu.  Instead, you must go into songlist selection to access the Stereo/5.1 options.  At the top you’ll note Audio Setup.  Click through on this and you’re able to choose your sonic assault.

The extras provide improvisational pieces that have endeared the band to its fans.  There are plenty on the second disc to satisfy anyone willing to hear the experimentation of screeching guitars, tribal beats, and rhythmic extensions.  Everyone in the band gets to jam to their own song while being accompanied by the rest.  Don’t ask me how they do it.  It’s as if each player leads and everyone follows but they’re doing it at the same time.  It does take a dedicated KC fan to enjoy this.  Interestingly, this also lends to a feature of the second disc in that normal play ‘borrows’ from this set of extras and inserts them randomly in any of the songs.  It’s a fascinating new use of DVD technology in that you may be listening to “ProzaKc Blues” when you’ll detect a slight pause and one of these improvs is inserted into the middle of the song.  You’ll hear an extended cut of the song that will not be replicated over several listens of the disc.  Quite simply, you get a different and random experience of the song.   The extras on the first disc are sound and camera checks with very raw video.

The included booklet is refreshingly extensive.  There are 16 pages with photos, track listing, liner notes, and tour information from whence these song performances originated from.

King Crimson has created an extraordinary experience with Eyes Wide Open.  Although the experience is largely for fans of Prog Rock and particularly for King Crimson fans, people on the periphery of appreciation can purchase this DVD without fear of being overwhelmed.

Track Listing:

Disc One:

Introductory Soundscape / The Power to Believe I: (A Capella) / Level Five / ProzaKc Blues / The ConstruKtion of Light / Happy With What You Have to Be Happy With / Elektrik / One Time / Facts of Life / The Power to Believe II (Power Circle) / Dangerous Curves / Larks' Tongue in Aspic: Part IV / The Deception of the Thrush / The World's My Oyster Soup Kitchen Floor Wax Museum.

Disc Two:

Into the Frying Pan / The ConstrucKtion of Light / VROOOM / One Time / London Improv I: Blasticus SS Blastica / Dinosaur / The World's My Oyster Soup Kitchen Floor Wax Museum / London Improv 2: C Blasticum Cage / ProzaKc Blues / Larks' Tongue in Aspic: Part IV / Three of a Perfect Pair / The Deception of the Thrush / Sex, Sleep, Eat, Drink, Dream / Heroes.

Bonus Features:

Disc One - Tokyo Sound and Camera Check: Indiscretion I / Indiscretion II / Indiscretion III
Disc Two - Improvising Crimson

Audio Options:

5.1 DD Surround / DD Stereo

King Crimson:

Adrian Belew - Vocals / Guitar

Robert Fripp - Guitars

Trey Gunn - Guitar / Fretless Warr Guitar

Pat Mastelotto - Drums

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