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On This Date 41 Years Ago...
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Tue., Oct 6, 2015

King Crimson released Red, their final studio album of the 1970s on October 6th, 1974.

Now regarded as one the most important albums of that decade, Red frequently turns up in numerous best of lists by artists and magazines.

Here's what the New Musical Express had to say about the album upon its release that week 41 years ago today. 

THE PREVIOUS two albums by this final King Crimson lineup have never been as hysterically self-conscious in their obvious adventurousness as the first four studio records that came out under the band's name.

In fact, listening to certain parts of each of those early albums can frequently provoke nothing as crassly simple as severe brain damage but a rather more civilised basic aural pain.

In general, it's a pretty tidy set of neuroses, instability and insecurity — both musical and personal — that cuts a jagged edged swathe across the eight sides. The psychic melodramas do, though, have the saving grace of being carried out with an appropriate sense of artistic folly.

Indeed when juxtaposed against the histrionics of those records Larks Tongues In Aspic, Starless And Bible Black and, now, Red would seem to have been recorded in a state of almost Calvinistic general togetherness — or, if you prefer, what used to be known at school as "maturity" — and even if Larks Tongues does marginally fail to cut it due to a rather too noticeable excess of zeal then Starless, which is minus both Jamie Muir and His Percussive Pistacchio Nuts and the perfectionist production of the former — though not credited on the sleeve as such the whole of side two was cut live — comes up with a more consistent and relaxed amount of highs than any of its predecessors.

There's one other little plus that Starless has going for it...uh...it...well, it nearly swings.

And so to Red. No two ways about it, and putting aside for the moment any little thoughts we may have about its being The Final Work this outfit — now reduced to the basic three-piece of Robert Fripp, John Wetton on bass and vocals, and Bill Bruford on drums (sorry, percussives) — were really starting to whizz those thought patterns around amongst themselves.

Side One is actually rather a funky, even heavy, piece with 'Fallen Angel' and 'One More Red Nightmare' restating the weighty note progression emphasised almost to the point of a calculated ennui on 'Red', the first track.

'Fallen Angel' moves things on with some of your old mellifluous free-flowing melody ending up as a variant on a basic pop track with a surreal middle eight that has some most impressive reed honking from Mel Collins. Robert Palmer-James' lyrics are virtually indistinguishable, which on past evidence is most certainly in the record's favour, whilst Wetton's voice, doable or triple tracked on the chorus fines has the chore of both sounding like Greg Lake and being able to highlight the inadequacies of any similar ELP technological ballad.

'One More Red Nightmare' puts the rather curious counterbalancing of the first two tracks into a comprehensible perspective as it grips together the main themes of each title with some hot ice howling lead percussion from Bruford that does just now and then veer dangerously towards intellectual doodling.

'Providence', which opens the second side, features "guest" violinist David Cross on a schizoid quasi Prokofiev piece of impressionism which, when joined by the bass and Bruford, displays at first the sense of spacing and notation which was particularly evident on Larks Tongues but which ultimately dissolves as it's hurled into a rather early model King Crimson piece of mellotron madness.

The truly enigmatic side of Crimson gets really well held up to the light on the twelve-minute final track, Starless, with the baroque intensity — and extremity — of Fripp's Mancini-like mellotron strings that carry a hint of the mood of side two of Lizard until the scorching guitar, bass and jangling percussion work up and along several note and chord structures with each instrument underlining the other until a pattern is shaped like a continuous loop of sound restating the album's themes.

It's really quite curious and should, I suppose, be put down to some psychic state evolving from the demise of the band but Red is truly the first Crimson album that I can find myself listening to over and over again.

Would it be that same psychic state that makes me believe it's the best album ever made under the name of King Crimson?

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Remix An ORK
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Mon., Apr 13, 2015
There's an opportunity to remix a track on an album featuring Pat Mastelotto  due out later this year by a new outfit called O.R.K. The new record is entitled  Inflamed Rides and is a project featuring multi-instrumentalist, Lorenzo Esposito (Obake & Berserk), guitar Carmelo Pipitone and Colin Edwin on bass. Pat contributed drums to the entire album last year following King Crimson's tour in the USA.

ORK are running a competition to include a track remixed by a member of the public. For full details of how enter or simply order the album, head over to their musicraiser page. You can take a listen to two tracks from the record, Pyre and Jellyfish.

Polygraph Talk
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Thu., Apr 9, 2015
Check out this new interview with Gavin Harrison talking about his latest solo album, Cheating The Polygraph and King Crimson. You can also check out the details on the album here. There's a Q&A video with Gavin and ex-Bruford Earthworks player Laurence Cottle, who provided the detailed brass arrangements on the album.

The Humans UK Tour
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Wed., Apr 8, 2015
King Crimson's Bill Rieflin is working in the UK this month with his other band, The Humans.

The core trio consisting of Toyah Willcox, Chris Wong and Rieflin will be joined by returning Human, Igor Abuladze and Tim Rose, long-time member of Toyah's regular group.  For details of the six gigs the group will be playing check out Toyah's website.

Theo Wraps It Up
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Wed., Apr 8, 2015
Theo Travis has finished work on his new solo album due to be released in July. You can read a short update about it here. Also worth looking at is
Theo's personal tribute to Daevid Allen, who died last month.

Cross & Stick Men In Japan
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Wed., Apr 8, 2015
David Cross has joined Stick Men to play two gigs in Japan this week. The violinist joins Tony Levin, Pat Mastelotto and Markus Reuter, bridging the gap between 70s, 80s and 90s Crim. Leonardo Pavkovic, from MoonJune Records posted this picture of the team as they go over logistics and setlists.

More Crimso For iTunes
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Tue., Apr 7, 2015
Four more albums by King Crimson are about to be released on iTunes later this month.

ITWOP, Lizard, Islands and Starless And Bible Black will be available for download from April 14th and are available for pre-order now.  These titles join ITOCTCK, LTIA, Red and Live At The Orpheum on the iTunes roster.

Crimso On BBC Six Music
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Tue., Apr 7, 2015
King Crimson and Islands got a special namecheck and shoutout on BBC6 Music yesterday.  The station’s output had been given over to The Unthanks, whose latest album, Mount the Air, has attracted  widespread critical acclaim.

Adrian McNally, pianist with the group introduced the track:  “This next piece, alongside Sketches Of Spain by Miles Davis and Gil Evans, has had more influence on me as an arranger and producer than any other, and also reveals the source of inspiration of our use of trumpet in The Unthanks. For most of my adult life this piece has been just a distant memory from childhood. I wasn’t even sure who it was by until I looked it up again recently.

All I could remember was the feeling it gave me, and now I realise that my limited armoury of tricks that relate to the impact of scale on the power and intimacy of music were all subconsciously learnt from this one piece. As an adult I can see its flaws but the best prog is full of flaws because the best prog was pushing boundaries, and if you’re pushing boundaries and not getting it wrong half the time, you’re not pushing hard enough. This is Islands by King Crimson...”

The programme then goes on to play the full track with Adrian adding afterwards, “Before we get any King Crimson aficionados regarding my comment about trumpet on that track, that was Mark Charig playing the cornet not the trumpet but did inspire us to use trumpet in The Unthanks which we’ve gone on to do.”  You can listen to the whole show here with the King Crimson section starting at around 01.09.34.

The band have previously covered Starless by King Crimson on their 2011 album, Last. You can read my take on the record over on the blog

This Just In From Reuter
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Sun., Apr 5, 2015
Markus Reuter talks about his work including Stick Men and Crimson ProjeKCt in this new interview with Anil Prasad. 

Gavin Interviewed
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Thu., Apr 2, 2015
Check out this podcast wherein Gavin Harrison talks about his new album, Cheating The Polygraph, and the role Robert Fripp had in its conception. 

KC Unplugged
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Wed., Apr 1, 2015
The support act for the forthcoming King Crimson tour will be King Crimson - unplugged! 

In addition to Crimso playing a 20 minute set of KC-related material on acoustic instruments at each of the dates already announced, the group are also also to make low-key acoustic only appearance at this year's Green Man Festival, as a warm-up for the KC tour proper later that month.

This perhaps surprising announcement comes after an equipment failure at last week’s full rehearsals. While the electrics were being fixed, Fripp and Jakszyk reverted to acoustic instruments in order to carry on their work. “We turned a disadvantage into an advantage” comments Fripp in his April 1st dairy published later today.

There’s no indication yet as to which numbers will be covered but the phrase “KC-related” opens up the possibility of Guitar Craft repertoire as well as solo material from Jakszyk and Rieflin also under consideration.

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