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“King Crimson is, as always, more a way of doing things. When there is nothing to be done, nothing is done: Crimson disappears. When there is music to be played, Crimson reappears. If all of life were this simple.”

-Robert Fripp

“21st. Century Schizoid Man”- King Crimson

Cat’s foot iron claw
Neuro-surgeons scream for more
At paranoia’s poison door.
Twenty first century schizoid man.

Blood rack barbed wire
Polititians’ funeral pyre
Innocents raped with napalm fire
Twenty first century schizoid man.

Death seed blind man’s greed
Poets’ starving children bleed
Nothing he’s got he really needs
Twenty first century schizoid man.

Oh, I can’t stand it any more… Show the colour of your crimson… suspenders… Here it goes:

Your admirers on the street
Gotta hoot and stamp their feet
In the heat from your physique
As you twinkle by in moccasin sneakers

And I thought my heart would break
When you doubled up at the stake
With your fingers all a-shake
You could never tell a winner from a snake
but you always make money

Easy money

With your figure and your face
Strutting out at every race
Throw a glass around the place
Show the colour of your crimson suspenders

We would take the money home
Sit around the family throne
My old dog could chew his bone
For two weeks we could appease the Almighty

Easy money

Got no truck with the la-di-da
Keep my bread in an old fruit jar
Drive you out in a motor-car
Getting fat on your lucky star just making

Easy money.

Yes, yes, Scevola! Excellent.

How about the percussion in that one? Bruford is a genius, no questions asked.

And that cackling laugh at the end of the song. Who is that, Scevola? That is the laugh of our capitalist after he has made his “easy money.”

Do you see now? Listen to the under-tones and effects during that song- how they creep maliciously behind the melody. It is a soft, gentle brooding terror.

Let me tell you what Fripp is doing with Crimson. His music is a reflection of the world and all its tensions. Fripp can produce the most horrible and brutal music you will ever hear…but also the most beautiful and compassionate. He makes offensive music on purpose when it is deserved, as with the more gentle pieces also.

To get an idea of what I mean, listen to the song entitled “happy with what you have to be happy with.” This song is an outright mockery of “modern rock” and how utterly simple, cheap and shallow it is. The song is hilarious. The lead he plays in the middle of the song is just terrible- a perfect representation of what is considered “talented” today in lead-guitarists. He even uses “scratching,” that stupid shit that rappers do with turn-tables, to enrich the point of the song. It is offensive to the generation raised on modern rock, but quite a delight to real musicians who truely understand the great tragedy of modern music. An “inside joke,” one might call it, for you and me.

Critics have called Fripp’s music “math rock,” and rightly so. He produces some of the most elaborate and complicated polyrhythms I have ever heard. The music is “woven” through meters and counter-points. He might play a seven over a three, producing a syncopation that absolves itself at the next nearest common multiple of the numbers, in this case twenty-one. On that note, the cycle starts again on the down beat, etc., etc. Brilliant brain music.

It is extremely challenging to play it, and the musicians must focus on their own parts without listening to the other’s, or else one loses the time and the equation falls apart.

I could go on and on about Crimson- they are entirely too deep to be merely passed over. I pity the ears who do not hear their music.

Tell me more. What are some of your other favorites? Let’s discuss.

That’s wonderfully said and goes perfectly with Fripp’s quote. You express your ideas clearly and attractively, Detrop; you’re a clever fox… The innumerable facets of your socialist propaganda are charming through their colourful diversity and could easily be gathered into a good book… But what is there more to be said, but not done ? In Gamer’s words: “Your dolly whispers: go for it” Only time will tell if history will do you justice or leave you with a fat lip.

Anyway, one of my favourite King Crimson is, I have to be honest, Larks’ Tongue in Aspic, but I would like to discuss Red, it being a genuinely great album, every piece on it being more or less a gem. However, I cannot listen to the opening song without getting a bit uneasy about the whole thing, but maybe that’s what it’s supposed to give. The inventiveness and compositional complexity of ‘Red’ is obvious, though, even if I can hardly ever listen it to the end. ‘Fallen Angel’ is very good, while the jazzier ‘One More Red Nightmare’ is absolutely great. With some effort, I am still awake when ‘Providence’ is over, so I can feast my ears on ‘Sleepless’, which is one of my favourites on the album and of King Crimson in general. The emotional guitar and mellotron from Fripp with great drumming from Bruford, and a great vocal performance from Wetton make up one of my favourite pieces of music ever. When I listen to it I usually build up the tension in the first part. Wetton’s sung lines creep up over the music, just like twilight rays of light gleaning between the drawn curtains into a dark room… After that the pass through the minimalist Fripp guitar solo and on towards the explosive climax with its intense jam really opens up the song. The sax sounds great; the song is a beauty…

That’s strange because I would consider “One More Red Nightmare” to be the odd one out. The intro to the song is strong and rigid, but the melody strikes me as a bit pre-eighties popish. I do love the song though. Red, on the other hand, is that signature raw instrumental rock that Crimson plays explicitly to distinguish themselves from conventional rock- which was lyrically oriented- and that tense, horrific tone that Fripp gets with the diminished and dissonant chord structures is easily the precursor for “metal,” which he was setting the stage for. Like Hendrix, the audience was always two- those who hated it and those who loved it. Crimson is the avant garde par excellence and never made it mainstrean. That, ironically, is a compliment.

The band wasn’t ever about lyrics, as Fripp mentions, so on that note it is often times harder to aquire a taste for songs that have no lyrics. In Crimson’s case it is ever more difficult because the music is unique compositionally, when compared to other “rock” bands present at the time. Perhaps “Yes” and “Genesis” can be compared, although neither have that hallmark sound that Fripp pioneered. It is therefore just as easy to be disgusted by Crimson as it is to fall in love. Many times have people I know listened to the wrong Crimson, from the wrong time, and it ruined the possibility that they develop a taste for it. One must understand the bands evolution and the stages that Fripp went through writing the music. I, personally, think “The Construction of Light” sucks, excepting the song itself, and if I hadn’t heard the early Crimson first, I’d certainly not want to hear anymore. So it is critical to the listener that he/she know what Fripp is thinking in response to the time.

Haha…I know what you mean. Providence can be called an interlude to the basic theme of the album. Most of the albums from the early seventies have an interlude period in them where the band plays improvisationally- either becomming a jam or fading as quitely as it started. You notice how the script is played like it was for a movie or a series of scenes. In Larks Tongues, for example, that three or four minute period in the song where the violin is playing behind the sampled dialogue, is just such a case of this seemingly improvisational interlude between song points. There are several points like this on “Starless and Bible Black,” “Lizard,” and “The Wake of Poseidon,” as well. In fact, “The Devil’s Triangle” is like one big interlude.

Yes, the mellotron is another hallmark feature of Crimson.

Do you mean “Starless?” Yes, that song is brilliant. Do you see the chemistry of the mood as it moves in that song? It begins as a soliloquy of sadness and utter despair (the mellotron does it all). The transitional period is strangely mischevious…it is plotting, scheming, a sinister ploy, etc. This is the metamorphosis of despair into the brief and subtle madness experienced before the resolution- finally exploding with passion and power (the jazz jam with the sax you speak of). The end of the song is the intro melody but it is now empowered and climatic. It is no longer tragic but triumphant.

What an awesome song. 1974, baby. You can’t get that fat analog sound nowadays. Nobody did it like the crimson king.