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The Mastelottos: Too Much Happiness - A Romantic’s Guide To King Crimson

If you’re going to create an album which covers the music of just one band, then you better have something different to say when you do. The Mastelottos are Pat, one of three current drummers in King Crimson, and Deborah, who is not just married to one of the three current drummers in King Crimson, but an enigmatically talented singer in her own right. And the idea that the pair have shared here is simple, take some of the songs of King Crimson and dismantle them until they reemerge as crawling pop tunes interspersed with jazzy interludes and a lounge-like slither. So, not so simple after all…

This is undoubtedly dangerous territory, because these tracks were not in any shape or form intended to be presented in this way and while the most obvious of Crimsonian moments are avoided, these cuts are known inside and out by the band’s faithful hordes and as such often viewed as being somewhat untouchable when it comes to reinterpretation. So maybe it’s fitting that, being totally honest, if it wasn’t for some of the lyrical refrains remaining intact, you’d be hard pressed to ever realise what you are listening to without at least some prior notice.

To some that may feel counterproductive but it’s certainly this album’s main strength as “Inner Garden” suddenly becomes an accordion lead howl of anguish that harks back to the days of Piaf, such is its stark, contained beauty. Deborah is magnificent throughout, as a cast of players including The Three Of A Perfect Pair Music Masters and which stretches to more than twenty musicians, completely reimagine the likes of “One Time (Eyes Wide Open)” into a clicking snap of shimmering sounds and crisp vocals, or “Elephant Talk” (long a KC favourite of mine) into an intimate spoken piece that unsettles and soothes in equal measure. The arrangements across this whole album are masterful and the patience in slowly revealing these pieces in a style never previously even hinted at, as the latter of those songs evolves through electronic judders and muted trumpets into gentle but pointed submission, is clever indeed. In truth the effect can, at times become too much, with the desire for someone to crank the handle just a little harder unavoidable in places. To describe this album (for me at least) as mood music, would be to understate how rarely I could imagine wanting to live through it in its entirety.

As an endeavour to completely tear down a famous band’s works and make them into something else entirely, what The Mastelottos have done here has seldom been bettered. But while the performances match those thoroughly realised ambitions, I’d still be inclined to describe this album more as captivating than I would indispensable. Those seeking to hear the music of King Crimson from a completely different angle, however, would undoubtedly beg to differ.


Track Listing
1. Two Hands
2. Matte Kudasai
3. Heartbeat
4. Moonchild
5. Inner Garden
6. One Time (Eyes Wide Open)
7. Peace
8. Book Of Saturday
9. Exiles
10. Elephant Talk
11. People
12. Sleepers

Added: August 6th 2021
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Score:
Related Link: The Mastelottos @ bandcamp
Hits: 294
Language: english

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