‘Fracture’ moto perpetuo on marimba.

In the ‘things I didn’t expect to see today’ category, I just ran across a clip of the moto perpetuo section of King Crimson’s “Fracture”…played on marimba.

Sometimes it needs repeating in our crazy world:  people are awesome, and for all its annoyances, YouTube is a treasure.

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Because “Larks’ Tongues in Aspic”, that’s why.

Had the family car today, which means a (vastly) better listening environment than the Jeep.  On such occasions I will frequently arrange a more intentional listening session, for the 20 mile drive to and from work.  Today, that was King Crimson’s 1973 record, Larks’ Tongues in Aspic, which I haven’t really listened to closely in some years.

Holy cow, what a triumph.  Even now, with all that has happened in music since–a notion that’s nearly incomprehensible in and of itself–the record’s ideas and experiments just drip with freshness and authority.  What it must have been like in 1973, coming nearly out of nowhere (King Crimson having been in a sort of perpetual shambles since the end of 1969) is something I can only speculate about, but for the average rock-idiom listener at least, it must have been like being hit by a truck.  I recall Robert describing it somewhere as a “leaner” and “more muscular” Crim than earlier ones, which is true enough–the raw power the band had is justifiably legendary–but boy, does that risk oversimplifying a host of nuance within the group as well.  And that nuance comes out more on the LITA record than anything which followed it.*

Just consider “Larks’ Tongues in Aspic, Part One”.  On YouTube:

This is a simply massive statements.  (Yes, plural.  Definitely plural.)  The closer you get to it, the more carefully you listen, the more inventiveness you hear at every turn.

That doesn’t mean it’s easy.  I know that when I first heard LTIA (around 1990, I’d guess) I was by no means ready to grok all the things I can hear now, and of course there is probably still an ocean left to discover.  Other parts of the record spoke to me more immediately–“LITA Part Two” and “Easy Money” most prominently–and “LTIA Part One” was comparatively a slower burn.  Not to worry of course;  true masterpieces of art simply wait patiently until we clouded dolts make ourselves available for the experience.

Man, I love drives like that.

 

Finally, here’s YouTube live clips of Part One (with Jamie) and Part Two (without):

Because Larks’ Tongues in Aspic, that’s why.

 

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* One gets the impression, both just from listening to the music and also from reading Robert’s comments over the years, that this new edition of Crim found its voice right away (something that just as self-evidently happened with ’69 and ’81 Crims, as well), but then grew quickly into an almost self-competitive beast that shed members and eventually collapsed of its own mass.  (Maybe the KC muse was simply drunk on its own power…)  On one hand, what a shame to lose Jamie’s brilliance** so soon, and to have David essentially drowned out by the ridiculous power of the Wetton-Bruford rhythm section (Robert considered it all that he could do just to keep up)…  The flip side of course is that we got to see just how much Bill learned from working with Jamie–wow!–and what the group did manage to achieve in 1973-4 is nothing short of staggering;  for some of us at least, it’s hard to imagine more significant music than this.  It may “belong” to the rock music idiom, but there is so much more in there than just that–and that’s before considering how much of it was group-improvised…

** Want to hear something really nerdly fascinating?  Check out this clip of Jamie’s isolated track from the studio recording of “Easy Money”.  Who else would have come up with this?  Yes, this man is an artist.

King Crimson’s 50th anniversary.

This is intended solely as a bookmark–there is no way I could do justice to the whole topic here–for the YouTube playlist, at King Crimson’s YouTube channel, celebrating the group’s fiftieth anniversary year*.

From the notes to the first clip in the playlist:

To celebrate their 50th anniversary, King Crimson are releasing 50 rare or unusual tracks from the archives. Starting on 13th January, the date the band was formed in the Fulham Palace Café in 1969, these tracks will be released one a week for the remaining 50 weeks of 2019. Each track will be introduced by a commentary from David Singleton, King Crimson manager and producer.

Admitted fanboy that I are, I find this stuff utterly fascinating.  It will probably be less interesting to someone who doesn’t know the context, background, and history that I do, but they’re still extremely well done, and marvelous historic documents in their own right.

Given what we’ve seen thus far (at this writing, the latest release is Keith Tippett’s mesmerising isolated track from Lizard‘s “Prince Rupert Awakes”), I’m not sure I want them to stop at the end of the year!

 

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* Which of course goes back to the year in which I was born, as well.  Maybe something more than a coincidence, then, that all this should be quite that meaningful to me.

Failure to Fracture.

Okay, my brain seems to recall running into this “Failure to Fracture” title some years ago now, but by accident I ran across a reference to it today, and after taking a peek–oh heck yeah, that’s going to need a bookmark!

So, there’s this Anthony Garone character from the YouTube channel Make Weird Music, which I know I’ve seen before (I believe it was the episode on Michael Manring’s “Hyperbass”), and what caught my eye was a new clip titled “Fracture is impossible to play” Failure to Fracture, Ep. 6, with a likeness of Robert stating those words in 2016.  Well…each of us has a personal limit to our effective girding against clickbait, and of course for me this sailed right through that like neutronium through interstellar gas.

Interesting indeed, and hence this bookmark.  The series playlist seems a little disorganized to me, but I don’t know that story;  anyway, here’s a link starting with the “Episode 0 – Introduction” clip.

Of significant interest is that he spends over half an hour talking with Crafty Alex Anthony Faide about the topic, which is just fascinating on so many levels.

Yeah, Make Weird Music just earned itself another subscription.  🙂

‘Blockhead’, imagined…larger.

It’s fun when the Crafties in my TwitFace space show me new musicking things.  One great example, which deserves further posting, has been an introduction to Petra Haden’s a cappella work, among which she has done more than one King Crimson / Guitar Craft piece.  (Check out Hope, Red, and The Sheltering Sky (!);  she’s apparently keen to release an album of such that may wind up with the name “Sing Crimson”.)

This clip is of drummer Dan Moore, playing “Blockhead” on Steve Ball’s Tiny Orchestral Moments project, and it immediately made me wistful for GCCO.

Not only is it fun watching Dan, but the entire arrangement is pretty rich.  (As in:  possibly rich enough to be open to the “ensemble cast film” criticism…but hey, I’m a fanboy and I like it anyway.  🙂  )

Bookmarked!

King Crimson press.

It’s killin’ me, not having any viable way to get to see the Seven- (now Eight-) Headed Beast of Crim on what by pretty much all accounts is a fairly amazing tour.  It doesn’t help that much of my TwitFace feed is occupied by Crafties, who understand better than almost anyone how to listen to a muse like Crimson’s, and who are pretty unanimously agog at this most recent group’s efforts, but then there is press such as this, to which I am simply not accustomed.  Therefrom:

To be crystal clear: King Crimson 2014-2017 is unequivocally not a tribute band, a legacy band or any other of the epithets applied to so many bands from back in the day that have reformed in recent times to capitalize on the burgeoning progressive rock revival of the past couple of decades. In fact, Crimson sits alongside Van der Graaf Generator as, perhaps, one of but a few bands of such longevity to not only reinvigorate its older material with a fresh approach, but to add new material that, with its own distinctive personality, fits as comfortably and with as much strength as the music that made it famous in the first place. And while VdGG remains a thrilling live act that has, out of necessity, been forced to rearrange its material for the trio version that emerged following co-founder David Jackson’s departure after its 2005 comeback album Present (Virgin/Charisma, 2005) and accompanying tour, Crimson’s approach to much of its 40+ year-old material— barring those where the signatures are so prevalent as to demand greater literalism—is far, far freer.

Bookmarked, here, for its simple utility in being a reference for anyone who wants a crash course on Crim in context.  It’s long, but it kinda has to be, too.  It’s also worth reading!

And of course there are always Tony Levin’s road diaries, which are always insightful and not infrequently amusing as well.  From one recent entry:

And a Crimson train wreck is, well, not like other bands… a King Crimson train wreck takes out the whole train station. And maybe the town it’s in!

By now, we certainly knew we had a problem about how to bring this piece together. There’s no just counting ‘one two three four’ when one player’s in 28/8 and others in 7/4 offset a quarter note from each other, and the drummers waiting to join in in 15/8 to signal finally getting beyond the verses!

One of the things I have always loved and appreciated about KC is the willingness to take huge risks.  What’s cool is to hear of so many opinions that mirror my own experience, that sometimes they fall flat on their faces…but the other times make all the train wrecks more than worth it!

So, I’m stoked that things seem to be working so well, but heartbroken that I may not get to see it before it’s concluded!

Seven-headed Crim: ‘Starless’.

This needs a bookmark.  Another teaser from the 2015 tour of the “Seven-headed beast of Crim”;  this one the ’70s-era staple “Starless”.

Most previous observations still apply, at least at first viewing of this second clip.  I found I wanted Collins to be much louder in the mix here, as his presence on the original ’74 recording is just breathtaking.  It was cool to see the drum parts scattered among the frontline, especially including Rieflin, who is also the keyboardist.  And it was a treat to watch the “circulated” pivot notes between the two guitarists late in the 13/8 windup.

But man, check out Robert Unrestrained from 10:45 – 11:10, especially that top-of-the-neck harmonization at 11:00.  Holy smokes!

Like I said–this needs a bookmark.  🙂