HiRez Poll King Crimson - THRAK [DVD-Audio]/[Blu-Ray Deluxe]


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Rate the DVD-A/BDA of King Crimson - THRAK

  • 7:

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  • 4:

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  • 3:

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  • 2:

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  • 1: Poor Fidelity, Poor Surround, Poor Content

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  • Total voters


Forum Curmudgeon
Staff member
Since 2002/2003
Mar 2, 2002
Please post your thoughts and comments on this 2015 reissue release of King Crimson's THRAK album, available as a CD/DVD-A combo package, as well as a Limited Edition Box Set including the DVD-Audio disc as well as 2 BluRay discs, one an audio only disc, and another containing a complete previously unreleased concert video in 5.1 sound!

PRE-RELEASE DISCUSSION THREAD: https://www.quadraphonicquad.com/forums/showthread.php?19538

I was not familiar with Thrak (or THRAK :) ) but I like it a lot. The surround mix is in good hands with Jakko Jacksyck assisted by Robert Fripp.
I also compared the old and new stereo mixes of Dinosaur. The new mix has one drummer left and the other on the right, which makes it a lot better to hear what is going on. In the surround mix the drummers are often put one in the front and one in the back.
I have to listen a couple of more times before voting, an 8 or higher very likely.
I've had my CD/DVDA set from Burningshed for a week. The surround mix is very very interesting. Took me a couple of listens. I liked it right off the bat but the drums forward and back did my head in until I sorted out what was going on. Little nuances in the guitar work really shine through. Still have not listened to the new Stereo mix, maybe tonight. I'll give the Surround mix a solid 9.
Right from the opening drum rolls of "VROOM", there is immersion that is quite unlike anything experienced before in 5.1 surround. Normally I am not a fan of drums in the surround channels but overall for this album it works extremely well for the density of this particular King Crimson lineup, affectionately known as the double-trio. Speaking particularly of the drummers in this lineup, it was decided that for the most part, Pat Mastelotto would be the straight man, leaving Bill Bruford to be the coloring agent. That's why I like how Jakko mixed Bruford's drums to the surround channels and Mastelotto to the front.
One of the changes made to this new 2015 remix of THRAK concerns the voices on "Coda: Marine 475". I personally would have mixed them a little lower myself particularly since some of the guitars are less prominent in this new mix than I think they should be.
Following these two tracks is the first proper song on the album, "Dinosaur". This is one where I wish the drum placement was flipped as Bruford becomes the straight man for this particular song, but the placements still work as they are. Adrian Belew's vocals are brought out into the room while the lower backing vocals in the chorus are effective emanating from behind you. Then following the breakdown in the middle of the song, the guitar solo floats around all the channels until Belew's vocal comes back in. A really nice mix of one of my favorite King Crimson songs from this era!
Then we're treated to the loverly "Walking On Air". The light, airy, and atmospheric sounds of this particular track sound better than they ever have before in surround. If you thought that the loveliness would last, well…brace yourself!
"B'Boom" is kinda like a soundtrack to a horror or thriller film with the opening dissonance setting the stage for this drum and percussion feature. If there was ever one piece of music featuring drums and percussion that was made for surround, it's definitely this one. Right in the middle of the track, the drums come at you from all four corners of the mix, and it is truly effective.
Then we're onto the title track, probably the heaviest piece of music on the entire album. There is a little bit of energy that's missing from the track at the start, but it gathers steam as it goes along. This instrumental also features some of Fripp's most inspired and challenging guitar-work. Like "B'Boom" it really is music for a horror or thriller film, but that horror doesn't last with the tranquility of "Inner Garden I".
"People", easily one of the funkiest tracks on the album, starts out with the main rhythm section (bass and drums) in the front with Adrian Belew's vocals in the center of the listening setup. The chorus is where we are first treated to a discrete surround presentation for this particular song. The middle, instrumental section of the song is probably the most fun surround section of the song with lots of ear candy surrounding you, but the ending is also equally effective in surround too.
Then comes "Radio I" which isn't really that essential to the album. I think of it more as an interesting bridge between "People" and the other loverly track on the album, "One Time". Like "Walking On Air", the atmospheric and airy nature of the song lends itself really well to surround. "Radio II" follows "One Time", and like its first incarnation, there's really nothing that special or unique about it, just simply a bridge between one concrete musical thought and the next. "Inner Garden II" is a shorter reincarnation of "Inner Garden I" and a conclusion to that particular musical thought.
The next song, "Sex Sleep Eat Drink Dream" has always been another favorite of mine, and while it may not excite in surround right away, there's a lot here to like. The moments that really comes off best in surround are the manic moments in the track where Bruford (and also Fripp) contribute the chaos to throw everything off track from a rhythmic perspective, and it just rocks!
Following that is a return to where we came in with "VROOM VROOM". The separation of the drums once again proves incredibly effective, adding to the clarity of being able to hear how each of them contributes to the arrangement of this album, but we are not finished yet!
The only thing that remains is the coda for "VROOM VROOM". This could easily be one of the best surround mixes on the entire album, a full immersive onslaught of sound from all directions that is equally exciting and terrifying!

After all of that, I'm very confident in saying that this surround mix easily belongs in my top 3 favorite surround mixes released this year (along with "Hand Cannot Erase" and "Oranges & Lemons). If money is tight, you might opt for the simpler CD/DVDA edition, but then of course, you would miss out on all of the other incredible surround elements of this set, particularly "ATTAKcATHRAK" (which I hope to also review very soon).
But when it all comes down to it, the surround mix of "THRAK" must be a part of your collection. As a matter of fact, I'll even say that it belongs in my top 3 favorite surround mixes from King Crimson, along with "Larks Tongues in Aspic" and "Red". It's the ultimate presentation of a great King Crimson album, and I have no reservations giving it a full and well-deserved vote of '10'! THRAK on, everybody! :)
A 10 from me. Sorry, its difficult following RT's brilliant review above!

I have the Thrakbox. I was a little wary of such extravagance and size for this release in getting the 16 disc box, but I am so glad that I did (y). It looks, sounds and smells awesome!! Such a quality product in all respects. The main aspect for us is obviously the 5.1 discs. For the 5.1 Thrak album, I agree with what RT says above! The drum positioning takes a bit of getting used to, split between front and back, but it does sound so good. I've heard this a few times now. My last listen was to the DVDA, as opposed to the Bluray, and for some reason I thought the DVDA sounded better. Well I know that shouldn't be possible, so it must have just been my mood and my ears on the day!

The 2 other 5.1 albums on the (wonderfully rich in contents) blu ray audio disc are Attakathrak (pieced together live improvs) and Kensington Thrak (a live recording from an Albert Hall gig that I was at :)). I'm listening to Attakathrak as I type now. Both of these extra albums sound amazing. Would it be wrong to think that these 2 surround mixes actually sound better than the Thrak album itself, because its the way I'm thinking at the moment! I've not heard a better sounding live surround disc than Kensington Thrak ever, except possibly the Japan gig on the blu ray video disc.

The blu ray video disc contains a hell of a lot too, including 2 complete concerts in wonderful surround, Warfield Theatre and Japan (previously released on dvd as Deja Vroom). Both of these have SD picture, which is a bit grainy at times, but the audio on both is top notch. The Japan soundtrack has been remixed to lossless form, and is especially good. Any fan of KC (and surround sound) needs to hear this and the Kensington gig!

Oh, I forgot to mention there's also some cds in the set! Some of the material is repeated on the blurays, but a lot of it isn't. I've listened to the Mexico concert discs, and they sound really good, very powerful, an excellent sounding live album.

I bought the box set as a Christmas present for myself. All I can say is: I like it! 9
My last listen was to the DVDA, as opposed to the Bluray, and for some reason I thought the DVDA sounded better. Well I know that shouldn't be possible, so it must have just been my mood and my ears on the day!

If you were listening to the DTS HD Master Audio group on the Blu-ray that may account for the difference you heard. Try the LPCM group and see if it sounds the same as the DVD-A.
This is such an amazing box. I'm glad I really like Thrak, 'cause the amount of superb-quality material to enjoy is immense. What a treat.
So far, my one and only niggle is that the octave up "I'm a dinosaur" line from Dinosaur is a little buried, for my taste. It's more dominant in the original mix and I prefer that. So, I still want to give the album a much deeper listen before voting, but it's an extremely worthwhile experience. While I might not vote 10, the box overall definitely is.
This surround mix is friggin’ thrack-tastic! I view it on par with my other favorites in the series thus far - Lizard, Larks’ Tongues and Discipline. Separating the drum kits front and rear was the perfect choice and makes for a wholly unique listening experience. The album still holds up beautifully with the possible exception of ‘People’. But the new mix allows me to better enjoy the musicianship and arrangement of that tune as never before - particularly during the coda section.

I appreciate the fresh approach for the new stereo mix but it doesn’t quite work for me. They went for a 60’s stereo Tamla Motown sort of thing, as they describe in the book, with the 2 drum kits panned hard to either side. Much of it is fascinating and offers great clarity and separation but, like many stereo 60’s recordings, it can sometimes feel imbalanced and somewhat anchorless. Also there’s the strange decision to pan the bass hard right in ‘Walking on Air’.

As per usual with KC the amount of quality extras in the box set is staggering. But I’ll focus on the 5.1 content. The first blu-ray includes two additional live surround presentations, ATTAKcATHRAK and Kensington, both mixed superbly. The second blu-ray contains video, including 2 live shows in 5.1. The San Francisco show is essentially mixed to ‘big stereo’ with one interesting aspect - Trey’s Warr guitar feed is isolated in the center channel throughout. Soloing this channel, it’s interesting hearing his role shift song to song between third guitar and second bassist. The video is SD and uses just a single camera consisting of slow zooms and pans throughout. The Japan show is that on the old Deja Vroom DVD and uses the ’97 mix which is a bit more immersive than the SF show.

Fortunately, as mentioned above, the 5.1 mix is also available in a smaller CD/DVD-A package allowing the casual fan as well as the curious to take a chance on it without spending big bucks. For me it’s one of the best and most revelatory mixes of the year, second only perhaps to Oranges & Lemons. A 10.
Voted 10 on this. I have minor niggles over levels, but everything is within the range, for me.
I'd have gone 9.5 just on the mix. When it's at its best its unbeatable. It even makes me like "People," which I've always found annoying until the back half.
I'm glad I have the Box. It's an incredible value. The 5.1 content has been covered. Several of the CDs are highly interesting too, featuring rehearsals, demos and remixes. This band worked HARD, homey, to make this record.
This Box will yield many more hours of entertainment for me...
Hmmmmm...today I tried to play the DVD-A from the boxset and both player stopped the disc. :(
I can not get into the menu.
Before there was no trouble to play it.

Anyone else has experience with this?

I will try to make a safety copy.
I'm not ready to vote yet, but I couldn't help but chime in. I"m on track 5, B'Boom, and I'm impressed. The original CD was not my favorite Crim album and this was not my favorite Crim era, but I am going to take some time listening to this and reconsider. The album sounds so different this way. Less harsh, more open.

I have the DVD-A, and I'm thinking about the Thrakbox now. Much to ponder.

Preliminary vote is an 8, which means I really like it.
I'm not ready to vote yet, but I couldn't help but chime in. I"m on track 5, B'Boom, and I'm impressed. The original CD was not my favorite Crim album and this was not my favorite Crim era, but I am going to take some time listening to this and reconsider. The album sounds so different this way. Less harsh, more open.

I have the DVD-A, and I'm thinking about the Thrakbox now. Much to ponder.

Preliminary vote is an 8, which means I really like it.

IMO, if you like the music, the Box is a no-brainer...
IMO, if you like the music, the Box is a no-brainer...

I'm agreeing with EB on this one.
There's so much surround in the "THRAKBOX". Besides three live performances (London, San Francisco, and Japan, with the latter two having video too) the main highlights (IMHO) are "ATTAKCATHRAK" and the "THRAK EPK" which now has the remixed surround sound audio in it.
You can get it for around $125 right now on Burning Shed, which is a great deal for a 16-disc box like it.
I cannot recommend it enough! :)
Mine is the CD/DVD version.
Now I have listened to this album a few times, I can appreciate a lot of the very favourable comments about this release.
Jakko and Robert have combined their skills and produced a very good surround mix.
Personally, I do find certain Crimson releases slightly tricky to get into but nonetheless, I can fully appreciate the innovation and musicianship evident here.
Robert likes to push the boundaries and with the rest of the band, he truly gets the response he is seeking.
I will give this a 9