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Wilson Talks Lizard
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Mon., Feb 13, 2012

There's a major interview conducted by Anil Prasad with Steven Wilson over on the ever-informative Innerviews website.  


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On This Date 44 Years Ago
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Thu., Dec 3, 2015
King Crimson released their fourth studio album, Islands on December 3rd, 1971.



Recorded at Command Studios, largely because it was cheap and could be had at short notice, the tracks were laid down in a series of guerilla-style raids in between Crimson’s  gigs around the UK.  The bulk of Islands was recorded in this way during September, with most of the overdubbing and mixing completed in early October. “It is difficult to convey the level of exhaustion during this last week” explains Fripp.  “I’d get home about 3-4 in the morning from the studio, pull out a pencil and write orchestral parts for Song Of The Gulls, before getting to bed anywhere between six and eight. Up around ten to leave for the studio for noon. The final night began around 18:00 and never ended for me — Peter bailed in the early hours and I carried on. Richard Williams came in to listen to the playback/run-through the following late morning, then the van arrived after lunch. I got in, fell asleep, we drove to the first show of the tour, and I woke up shortly before we arrived.”



The final night that Fripp refers to was the same evening that overdubbing on Sailor’s Tale was finished. “The solo was, and is, from some other world” notes Fripp. “Technically, the right hand could only have been developed by someone familiar with the banjo. My connection to this was through Don Strike (his old guitar tutor in Bournemouth). Other references would include Sonny Sharrock (notably with Herbie Mann) and the idea of Peter Townshend’s flailing. And maybe a subversion/perversion of early Scotty Moore, with echo delay, at the Sun sessions. But none of this seems relevant somehow. Late at night, faced with a solo to be played, for which there was no solo available, something happened: a young guitar player was confronted by necessity. And then something remarkable happened…”



There are many stand-out moments on this curiously schizophrenic album; Formentera Lady’s laid-back sunny dreamscapes (Peter Sinfield’s lyrics inspired by his recent holidays in the Balearic islands); the free-jazz tussle within The Letters’ melodrama; the skewed, mutant blues guitar licks and raucous sax of Ladies of the Road; the genteel classical music climes of Song of the Gulls; the emotional reverie of the title track. 






Arguably, the most stylistically diverse KC release to date, it features some fine singing from Boz, including heroically singing into a studio fire bucket for Ladies Of The Road complete with a raging hangover. There’s also superb jazzy flourishes as well as understated and detailed throughout from Ian Wallace. Mel Collins also displays both sides of his musical personality with moments that are both tender and brutal.




If Lizard represented a wild party between the progressive strand of rock music and the UK jazz scene, Islands, for the most part, was more akin to a more gentle, laid-back kind of communion between those two worlds. 

Though he’s woefully under used on Formentera Lady, Harry Miller was one of the most gifted bassists of his generation who at the time of this recording was founding his own independent record label, Ogun. Along with Keith Tippett’s delicate additions on the title track comes his cornet player, Mark Charig, whose free-flowing and impassioned blasts, over the top of Fripp’s folksy harmonium, lends a poignant warmth to the stirring coda of one of Fripp’s most beautiful melodies.

However, it’s Sailor’s Tale which arguably overshadows everything here. The solo makes a break with the symphonic and jazz-inspired leanings of previous albums, clawing its way into a spikier, fractious metal-edged territory. It’s the sound of Fripp hammering out a new map of where he wanted to explore next.

Upon its release the album netted a good reaction from the music press of the day though there were some notes of caution as well. Sounds' Steve Peacock lauded the album for its "rare sense of ease and grace" and hailed it as a "Great Leap Forward.” One unnamed critic was enthusiastic in the extreme. “Despite the shoddy packaging, this is one of the most extraordinary albums ever to emerge out of the general idiom of rock. It’s impossible to describe the warm, lambent feeling obtained by a juxtaposition of Mark Charig’s cornet over a pedal harmonium on the title track’s long, gradual climax, or the breathtaking rightness of Fripp’s splintery chorded solo on “A Sailor’s Tale.” And it’s not pretentious and it’s not self-indulgent.”

However, the Melody Maker’s verdict was less certain. “Islands is altogether different from their former work. Where their preceding albums had a dominant strain of almost overbearing intensity, which matched the dark imagery of the lyrics, this is more muted and soft.”, concluding, “This isn’t the master album that Fripp threatens to produce, but the day can’t be far off.” For his part, self-confessed Crimso aficionado Nick Logan, writing in the NME, observed “Islands confirms a growing belief that Crimso have evolved into a skillful but somehow cold and dispassionate band. Warmth is what is lacking.”

Having previously been responsible for commissioning other artists to produce album covers for the band, Islands saw Peter Sinfield provide the artwork directly.



In the UK the album was presented in an unmarked single sleeve with a photograph of the Trifid Nebula in the constellation of Sagittarius. The inner sleeve was a fragile cream coloured gatefold with delicate islands created by Sinfield's patented method of food dye on blotting paper on the outside, and a collage of five individual portraits and three group shots of the band in concert. This was the first time the faces of the band had ever appeared on an album sleeve.





On its release in the USA, the inner gatefold was used as the outer cover. “The change of cover for the US was because the UK cover was considered so feeble.” explained Fripp. “The cover artist for the UK cover was Peter. Peter’s ‘move onstage’ through use of the VCS3 now expanded to include designing the cover as well. If this works, fine. But Peter’s cover wasn’t striking, and wasn’t in the same league as the other Crimson covers. The Nebula really wasn’t much of a cover either, because it hadn’t been chosen as a cover."

When it came to remixing the album as part of the 40th Anniversary Series in 2010, the multi-track tapes yielded many extra takes and a revelatory missing-link piece that would become Larks’ Tongues In Aspic Part I and parts of Lament.

Perhaps the greatest surprise regarding Islands however comes from the inclusion of Sailor’s Tale and The Letters in the current setlist. It’s a fair bet that when Robert Fripp and Mel Collins left Command Studios in the autumn of 1971 they never thought they’d be playing those numbers live some 44 years later. 

Thrakkies!
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Thu., Dec 3, 2015
Time for another crop of Thrakkies. Any ideas on what the collective noun for these might be? A thump of Thrakkies? A B’Boom of Thrakkies? Answers on a postcard please. First up today, Robert Wright-Stasko says “After 20 years, I got my upgrade to Maximum Vrooom!”



"Me and my brand new box" offers a presumably happy Francesco Buscemi peeping over the great wall of THRAK BOX, so big it can be seen from space.

 

"It’s huge!" shouts occasional TED talker and all-round entertainer, George Hrab with incontrovertible photographic evidence that puny humans are dwarfed by the THRAK BOX’s monolithic immensity...



Jonathan Sindelman pauses from the keyboards to let us know he’s “Just received the THRAK box after much anticipation!”



Finally, Sugarmouse writes that he’s "Happy with what I have to be happy with" although, to be honest, it’s hard to tell from this stern expression...




Keep ’em coming. If you’ve not got your THRAK BOX order now to beat the Xmas rush. Available from Inner Knot for US-based folks and Burning Shed for Europe.

Vancouver & Victoria Pix
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Wed., Dec 2, 2015
Tony Levin has posted up another gallery of photographs from the band's visit to Vancouver and Victoria. You can take a peek here. 


No Phone Zone
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Wed., Dec 2, 2015
My thanks to Adrian Reynolds for sending in this item explaining how comedian Dave Chappelle is getting around the problem of mobile phones ruining his shows. 


What's In A Name?
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Wed., Dec 2, 2015
The need to place bands into a generic description can be something of a vexed issue. At least one of the guitarists in King Crimson is on record as disliking the term prog rock being applied to the band. Occasional guestbook contributor, rzachol, sent in this news item about the band's dates in Poland next year: "In Polish media KC is called "avant-garde rock" - much more adequate term than "prog" IMHO."
 


On This Date 18 Years Ago
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Tue., Dec 1, 2015

ProjeKct One played a four-night residency at London’s Jazz Cafe.

The fraKctalisation of King Crimson into smaller research and development groupings marked the start of the next stage in the band’s evolution which would eventually see it move from the Double Trio to a Double Duo formation.

All four nights of the ProjeKct residency are available to download as a bundle or as individual concerts. Check them out here. 

With (Facebook) Friends Like These...
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Tue., Dec 1, 2015
Here’s a revealing exchange that sheds light on the mentality of some fans and their willful disregard for the wishes of the band or the potential fall-out and repercussions of their actions.

Even after posting polite signs around the venue and a polite and friendly request from the band not to take photographs during King Crimson’s concerts there are some who inexplicably feel that such appeals might apply to others but not to them.

Step forward Daniela Pagliuca who added her gallery of snaps of KC playing at Hackney Empire onto her Facebook account with this explanation.

Good evening everybody. First of all, I respect your position and I want to apologise for the inconvenience that this picture may have caused to you. It was not in my intention. And I also recognize I didn’t follow the rules of the theatre. But my aim was only to catch a beautiful moment in my life, to bring it to life in my memories and to share it with people that have the same enthusiasm and passion. I’m not a professional photographer and I don’t even take advantage from my pictures but only the pleasure to share the best moment in life. That’s what each of us do (or should do) on this “social” network! Neither I own any rights on the picture, as well as I can’t own a beautiful sunset I can fix with a shot. The watermark has the only function of a distinctive feature.Moreover, I enjoyed every single note of that memorable concert, and I’m quite sure I didn’t bother the audience’s amusement, neither the musicians’ concentration. Or better…not more than the countinuous coming and going of people between the bar and the toilet during the show, including some physiological burps…Finally, I’m really surprised of your consideration, I don’t deserve it, I mean for this picture. There are many other worthwhile topics, and disturbing pictures in this moment that require our indignation. In my picture I only see one of the most beautiful and bright sides of the human species: playing music. It should always bring people closer and connect the souls. Especially in these days. And the freedom to enjoy a concert and share pictures and feelings should be the expression of a tolerant and highly civilized world.I take this opportunity to thank you for this show. It’s one of the most beautiful things I’ve seen in my life! All the best!Daniela

Occasional guestbook commentator Errol Tout observed “The point is that you were specifically asked NOT to photograph the show. Yet you ignored the request....didn't you think it applied to you?”

Ms. Pagliuca: “I'm aware of this as I recognized...but I also think that some rules are too strict and pointless and that I didn't do harm to nobody...so, please, please, forgive me!”

The exchange caught the attention of one of King Crimson’s guitarists.

RF: Ms. Paglialuca clearly has no notion of the damage she has done. Forgiveable, yes. Excusable, no. Much as one may be reasonable, present the clear statement that this behaviour disturbs at least one member of KC to the extent that they have to leave the stage, where we lack the fundamental courtesy to engage with a performer's necessity - Some rules are too strict! and it didn't do harm to anyone, not even Fripp regardless of his public statements in this regard for at least three and a half decades! and even so, what do i care because there are many other worthwhile topics and i have apologised for my inconveniencing in my first post while negating that in my second! - One small example of the unseen damage done: there have been several online comments as to why KC has not toured Italy. The behaviour exhibited by Ms. Paglialuca - it doesn't hurt anyone! so why should i act courteously, or at least politely? - is a commonplace of Italian performance practice.

To which he added the obvious and fatal flaw in her logic: “Ms. Paglialuca: First of all, I respect your position...”  Clearly, not very much.


Victorious In Victoria
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Tue., Dec 1, 2015
Here's a short review of the band in Victoria. 


Jarrett's Advice To Snapper
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Tue., Dec 1, 2015
Keith Jarrett had some good advice to a person taking a photograph in London last month. You can read about it here.  


King Crimson 2016 European Tour
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Mon., Nov 30, 2015
King Crimson will be touring Europe next year. The band return to Aylesbury once again but from there will play countries not included in the 2015 itinerary.  It will be the first time King Crimson have performed in Germany,  Czech Republic, Poland, Denmark and Norway since 2003.



King Crimson European Tour 2016

Sunday 4th Sept    Aylesbury  Waterside Theatre UK

Monday 5th Sept    Aylesbury  Waterside Theatre UK

Thursday 8th Sept   Stuttgart, Beethoven-Saal, Germany 

Sunday 11th Sep     Berlin, Admiralpalast, Germany

Wednesday 14th Sept Prague, Forum Karlin, Czech Republic

Saturday 17th Sept, Zabrze, House of Music & Dance, Poland   

Sunday 18th Sept,   Zabrze, House of Music & Dance, Poland   

Tuesday 20th Sept,     Wroclaw, National Forum Of Music, Poland

Wednesday 21st Sept Wroclaw, National Forum Of Music, Poland

Friday 23rd Sept     Copenhagen, Falkoner, Denmark

Monday 26th Sept    Oslo, Sentrum Scene, Norway

Tuesday 27th Sept    Oslo, Sentrum Scene, Norway

Please note that Aylesbury tickets will go on sale Saturday 5th December at 10.00 a.m.

All other tickets will go on sale Friday 27th November

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