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!

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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.  🙂

King Crimson, ‘Sartori in Tangier’.

Because YouTube.

I gushed a bit about this one a while back on the Blogspot blog, and wanted to have it documented here too.  Because seriously, who else sounds even remotely like Robert, as a player?  One doesn’t even have to like his playing style, to acknowledge that it is like no other.

Dang.  Just–dang.

New old Crimson…wait, what?

A sneak preview of the 2016 incarnation of King Crimson, playing…”Easy Money“.

Wait, what?  King Crimson doesn’t usually repeat itself.

But the way I’m understanding it, this new Crim is indeed “reimagining” some of the older tunes.  That seems to be at least part of the point.  Okay, does that somehow mean that Robert’s gone soft all of a sudden?

I suppose we’ll see, but somehow, I doubt it.  In my book at least, he’s earned a lot of trust in that regard.  And who knows, maybe it’s me that’s gone soft, because at least on first listen, I enjoyed this a great deal:

Cry fanboy if you must–guilty as charged–but there is a lot in here to like.  Based on this performance alone, I’m not entirely convinced on Jakko as frontman, but he does seem both reasonably precise and endearingly earnest, and I look forward to seeing more before making a real judgment.  In a similar vein, given the use of the word “reimagining” to describe this edition of KC, I was a little surprised at how canonical and straight-up this edition of “Easy Money” seemed to be.  Again, I don’t know how indicative it may be, and I ain’t castin’ a judgment until I’ve seen more.  (Besides, it’s a great song, and as much as I have loved KC’s long insistence on new music over old, I’m in no way above the idea of re-Crim-inating some of the catalog;  if that’s what the muse is interested in doing now, I’m happy to go along.  Again, the trust has more than been earned.)

And boy, do I hear some treats in there.  It is always a pleasure to hear T-Lev in a Crimson group, and the return of reedman Mel Collins holds a lot of promise.  Watching and listening to Robert, it is obvious that he is playing the old piece with all the context of his subsequent work, and that is just a-okay by me;  it’s also quite a charge to see him smile like that!

Finally, there is that triple-drummer frontline, and wow, does that sound fantastic.  The stories of Mastelotto, Rieflin, and Harrison focusing on being a single drummer with one brain and six available hands–yeah, I’m believing that.  The interplay here is magnificent, and true to intention, there really is no overplaying that I can hear, just a solid, collaborative percussion line that demonstrates much of the richness that Jamie Muir brought to the ’72 Crimson.

Yes, please, more of that!  I do look forward to seeing what else they have in mind.