|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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
:: 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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