Other reviews explain how the ProjeKcts came to be, but few actually describe the music, partly because there is too much to characterize, too wide of a range. The easiest thing to say is that ProjeKcts is most like "Repercussions of Angelic Behavior" from Fripp, Gunn and Rieflin. If you liked that, ProjeKcts is almost certainly right for you.
ProjeKct 1 (Fripp, Gunn, Levin, Bruford) is the only one with Bruford. "4 ii 1" (to pick only one song) begins with Levin and Bruford putting down a gut-grabbing thump that never relents, with Levin throwing in charming, gnarly little whorl-accents all over the place--it's a bit like "Sleepless" (from "Three of a Perfect Pair), but pumped up to monstrously more interesting proportions. A guitar introduction follows, a combination of chord abuse and swelling sustains that teeter at the very edge of feedback. Somewhere in here, Gunn takes over and frees Fripp to unleash some thoroughly visceral shredding. How a guitar can be so distorted and still be carving out "melody" (with the harmonizer going) is truly something to behold. "1 ii 2" which follows is slow, spare, and has soaring guitar lines backed by Frippertronics, demonstrating that ProjeKcts 1 is a thing of many moods and styles. Except for the first track, which leaves me a bit flat, the whole thing is sonic bliss from almost start to finish.
ProjeKct 2 (Fripp, Gunn, Belew) was actually the first ProjeKct to tape, and features Belew on V-drums rather than guitar--an example of Fripp easing toward electronic drums (it sounds like Belew's bass tom is actually playing the bass guitar in spots). Probably the weakest of the four discs (one of them has to be), it nevertheless is no waste of time. The concert staple, "The Deception of the Thrush" originates here, and features Gunn's talking guitar. Another staple, "Heavy ConstruKction" debuts here. Starting with a bopping heavy drum riff, Fripp's "Thrakattak"-sensibility crunch introduces a linear main theme as Gunn snakes a thick smoke-curl bass line underneath. As soon as Fripp leaves the opening idea behind, though, the song opens into an amazing stratosphere of sound, with Gunn alternating between Godzilla-sized bass lines and washes of the most delicious spiky fuzz guitar as Fripp vies again for the honor of Most Interesting Guitar Player Ever. Program out the last track, which is mostly 10 minutes of audience noise, for a solidly wild ride otherwise.
ProjeKct 3 (Fripp, Gunn, Mastoletto) is probably the most difficult at first. Called "Masque", unnamed tracks and advice from the liner notes recommend putting the disc on shuffle play to "continue the improvisation". What makes Masque tricky is that Fripp, Gunn and Mastoletto have clearly gone to pains to erase the distinction between individual performers-sifting out who is playing what becomes impossible, especially since Mastoletto's drums are capable of patching in guitar flourishes or bass lines. Perhaps "masque" is precisely a reference to the hiding of personality here; it might just as well have been called Hydra. As to the music itself, these are no longer seem improvisations in the usual sense of elaborations upon a musical idea. They're more like extrapolations-extensions of prearranged musical ideas. No surprise, given the foresight that must go into making Mastoletto's patched drums play music and not blech. The opening track illustrates this. An intense guitar flourish jumps out at you, echoes, then dies away...and then the song starts-a burst of Frippertronics, thumping bass, clicking drums with live accents by Mastoletto, Gunn or Fripp growling quietly in the background until one guitar steps forward to play a lyrical melody. Then the bass changes, becoming big and visceral. The drums follow suit with bright cymbals, Frippertronics creep up in the background and then suddenly, Fripp's skysaw rips through it all backed by waves of white noise. Gunn's bass detaches itself and you realize the bass has actually been the drums. And on it goes. In a sense this is atmospheric music, it's just that the atmosphere is Venus'. Ultimately, as with much difficult music, this disc has become the most consistently rewarding to listen to for me.
ProjeKct 4 (Fripp, Gunn, Levin, Mastoletto) is more accessible than 3. Overall, it consists of five songs, but the 40 minutes of "Ghost" is split so that it opens and closes the album. Adding Levin seems to have caused a backing away from the blending of players on "Masque", making for a more "straightforward" musical approach. In "Hindu Fizz", Mastoletto concocts a hyper jangle of entirely artificial Tibetan percussion and live accents for Levin's more-felt-than-heard subsonic bass as Gunn, basically a second bassist here, rips out a talkative, schizy "melody" in the tenor range. Imagine "Nuages" (from "Three of a Perfect Pair") nervously amped up on coffee and jittery. A middle section features Fripp on "piano", intermixing ridiculously fast lines with Gunn matching. But what truly makes the song is the patch Fripp has found for the main theme. It is like glass and steel, unbelievably crisp, and played very high up on the neck of the guitar to sharpen its ice-like edge. And just when it seems it cannot be any sharper, Fripp hits the wah-wah pedal, and the note careens up to a truly gorgeous, crystalline intensity-musical nirvana. "ProjeKction", by contrast, once it gets past its too-abstract opening theme, becomes a monstrous smorgasbord of noise and thump.
This is the Crimson I listen to most. Abstract, instrumental, captivating and gorgeous.