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Saturday, May 16, 2009

Red (E'G, 1974)

Everything that King Crimson has been doing since 1969 is worth to take a look at. Robert Fripp, its leader and mastermind, rarely misses a note, an arpeggio or a chord with his fantastic guitar. He seems to never stop learning about tonalities, textures and sensations his music can bring to an audience, in a living room or in a concert hall.

It all started with a buzz that was damn right: a masterpiece called In The Court of The Crimson King was voted album of the year in 1969 and the band, overwhelmed with all the success with the critics and the audience, imploded. Each album of King Crimson had the entire staff replaced over and over. But in 1973, Fripp found a perfect nucleus in drummer Bill Bruford and bassist John Wetton. Together they performed in the three most radical and vanguardist records of the seventies in England. They picked up the slack other bands were leaving because of changes of personnel and trends. King Crimson, although the members were always in crisis, never sold out or gave the audience a bad product. Even nowadays, King Crimson should be a hot ticket when they go touring.

Bill Bruford left Yes after Close To The Edge and found in Fripp's band a perfect environment for his complicated drum patterns and syncopations. King Crimson was always more advanced than Yes and also way more personal and identifiable with an individual: Fripp. Yes was up until 2008 a constant struggle of powers between Jon Anderson and Chris Squire. Bruford didn't want to fight and discuss but to find the meaning of the rhythm. John Wetton, Fripp's childhood friend, joined the court with an amazing bass sound, distorted and honest, that founded the music and gave it grounds where to grow.

The first one of the trilogy, Lark's Tongues In Aspic, was almost experimental in the kind of fussion that Miles Davis was doing around that time. But I always thought Fripp was heading towards hard rock and intense emotions, as his loud guitar in "Lark's Tongues in Aspic, part II" can tell.

When Red came, King Crimson was a trio, but went out with a blast with the final song of the line-up, "Starless." A 12 minute masterpiece featuring Mel Collins and Ian McDonald on saxophones. "One More Red Nightmare" was a leap into the future the same way they did it with "21st Century Schizoid Man" five years earlier. Unfortunately, there wouldn't be more KC until 1981, when Fripp renamed the band Discipline he was playing with Adrian Belew, Tony Levin and Bill Bruford.
King Crimson makes music for everyone, because most of us have ears. Is up to us to discover it and dare to explore it. When we realize what they're up to, their music won't be for everyone, but for a few who dared.


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