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Old 12-27-2011, 04:39 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default King Crimson Introduction & Question


King Crimson

King Crimson released their first studio album in 1969, and their last studio album in 2003 (as of 2011). In those 35 years, they released 13 regular studio albums. I say “regular” because they released a ton of other irregular studio albums, many under what they consider part of their improvisational “ProjeKcts” collections. In addition to the 13 “regular” studio albums, they have released a ridiculous number of live albums and other improvisational albums. In terms of Personnel, they have had at least 30 different members, and they have spent more time broken up and disbanded, then they have spent together. Lastly, they have covered an abundance of different musical styles and sounds, so very few albums sound alike. Thus, their music is not for the average listener. It is extremely complex, challenging, and sometimes, it is just plain confusing. So, for the sake of simplicity, I’ll try to further explain King Crimson in just two Points:
#1 Robert Fripp
King Crimson is really not a band, but rather an idea. The idea that music should be ever changing and progressing. Over their 42-year history, the only constant member has been Robert Fripp, so Fripp really is King Crimson, kind of in the same way that Ian Anderson really is Jethro Tull, but with one major difference. Ian Anderson is not only the leader of Tull, but he has always been the primary songwriter. Fripp on the other hand is certainly the leader of Crimson, but he often delegates the writing duties to other band members, and I think that’s why they have been able to successfully master so many different styles of music.

#2 Progressive Rock
Several bands had incorporated progressive rock tendencies into their music before King Crimson, but King Crimson really put progressive rock on the map with their debut release “In the Court of the Crimson King.” After that seminal album was released, progressive rock really took off and progressive rock bands were everywhere, but here’s what really makes King Crimson different; they didn’t stop progressing. After the release of their first album, they released 3 more albums (all within 3 years) in that same style of original progressive rock. Then in 1971, they pulled out, and they called that style of music (that they invented) out dated. They then took 3 years off, and returned with a new line up for 1973-1974, and they recorded 3 more albums in a completely different style. Once again, this style of music was completely new to the rock world, and I think it is best described as improvisational progressive-grunge. They then pulled out again, only to return for another run from 1981-1984 with three more albums of a completely different style. This time around, the music is probably best described as progressive New Wave, and during this period they were heavily influencing and being influenced by other New Wave bands. They then took about 10 years off, but they returned again in 1995 and recorded 3 more albums. This time around, I would classify their sound as industrial and improvisational progressive Grunge, and it was heavily influential to other bands such as Tool, with whom they toured.
My point with all this is that they are truly progressive in the sense that they keep progressing and pushing the boundaries of music in completely innovative and new directions. All in all, King Crimson is a really difficult band to get into. Their music is not easily digestible, and they have covered so many different styles that every album is completely unpredictable, but for these reasons that they are an incredibly interesting band, and it is worth it to explore at least one album from each of their four main periods.

Questions:
Of Crimson's 4 periods, how would categorize their sound? Do you agree with my labels? I would think "grunge" will be a point of contention for some, but I think it is an accurate label. I don't hear it as the Nirvana, Pearl Jam style of grunge, but I think those albums have a grungy quality to them.

Period 1- "In the Court," "Poseidon," "Lizard," "Islands" (progressive rock)
Period 2- "Larks' Tongues in Aspic," "Starless and Bible Black," "Red" (improvisational progressive-grunge)
Period 3- "Discipline," "Beat," "Three of a Perfect Pair" (progressive new wave)
Period 4- "THRAK," "The Construction of Light," "The Power to Believe" (industrial and improvisational progressive Grunge)
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Old 12-30-2011, 07:10 AM   #2 (permalink)
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i don't think they were, in any way, grunge

perhaps you're befuddled into thinking that Nirvana's popular period is "grunge" but it's just stoner/hard rock

grunge would actually be something like a cross between Mudhoney (stoner-punk) and Melvins (sludge metal)
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Old 12-30-2011, 10:01 AM   #3 (permalink)
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i don't think they were, in any way, grunge

perhaps you're befuddled into thinking that Nirvana's popular period is "grunge" but it's just stoner/hard rock

grunge would actually be something like a cross between Mudhoney (stoner-punk) and Melvins (sludge metal)
I didn't really like the description of grunge either and I didn't want to draw comparisons to Nirvana (which I guess was inevitable); I just think the sound of those albums is grungy, but that's not really the right adjective.

How would you label or classify the sound of Crimson's 73-74 period, and their 1995 to "Power To Believe" Period? I know many people don't like labels, and I normally don't either, but I'm really interested in this particular case, and I would love to hear people's description of the sound.
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Old 12-30-2011, 10:18 AM   #4 (permalink)
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me?

73-74 would be "proto-metal prog"

the newer albums would be "avant-garde prog"
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Old 12-30-2011, 10:44 AM   #5 (permalink)
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me?

73-74 would be "proto-metal prog"

the newer albums would be "avant-garde prog"
I like it, I would include the term "Industrial" somewhere in the newer albums as well, I hear a connection to Ministry and NIN in those albums.
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Old 01-04-2012, 06:46 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
#1 Robert Fripp
King Crimson is really not a band, but rather an idea. The idea that music should be ever changing and progressing. Over their 42-year history, the only constant member has been Robert Fripp, so Fripp really is King Crimson, kind of in the same way that Ian Anderson really is Jethro Tull, but with one major difference. Ian Anderson is not only the leader of Tull, but he has always been the primary songwriter. Fripp on the other hand is certainly the leader of Crimson, but he often delegates the writing duties to other band members, and I think that’s why they have been able to successfully master so many different styles of music.
I had the pleasure of living and studying with Robert Fripp in 1985, he mentioned that the band King Crimson is rather an entity itself, in order for a line up to be called King Crimson, there must be this something that Robert recognizes that was present in the past kC's as well.

Myself & Fripp 1985 Claymont Virginia
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Old 01-04-2012, 06:57 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I had the pleasure of living and studying with Robert Fripp in 1985, he mentioned that the band King Crimson is rather an entity itself, in order for a line up to be called King Crimson, there must be this something that Robert recognizes that was present in the past kC's as well.

Myself & Fripp 1985 Claymont Virginia

Very cool... how did you get to study with Fripp?
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Old 01-04-2012, 07:26 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Very cool... how did you get to study with Fripp?
I was chosen for the very first Guitar Craft seminar along with 21 other guitarists from around the world. I think I found an article in a music magazine about it.
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Old 01-13-2012, 02:22 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by RMR View Post

Questions:
Of Crimson's 4 periods, how would categorize their sound? Do you agree with my labels? I would think "grunge" will be a point of contention for some, but I think it is an accurate label. I don't hear it as the Nirvana, Pearl Jam style of grunge, but I think those albums have a grungy quality to them.

Period 1- "In the Court," "Poseidon," "Lizard," "Islands" (progressive rock)
Period 2- "Larks' Tongues in Aspic," "Starless and Bible Black," "Red" (improvisational progressive-grunge)
Period 3- "Discipline," "Beat," "Three of a Perfect Pair" (progressive new wave)
Period 4- "THRAK," "The Construction of Light," "The Power to Believe" (industrial and improvisational progressive Grunge)
I wouldn't agree with your period 1 here, the first two albums were with Greg Lake and they define the early Crimson sound and both are prog rock with real power , I once heard the debut album being described as "heavy mental" but both albums have some really mellow stuff. Both Islands and Lizard are without Greg Lake and are far mellower and different in style to the first two albums.

Your period 2 I really wouldn't describe as prog-grunge at all, these albums were around almost two decades before grunge. The grunge moniker comes in as this phase of Crimson was influential on certain grunge acts most notably Nirvana. I'd describe this period with John Wetton as being atmospheric prog with a dark and menacing feel at times and without doubt one of rock's defining moments.

Your period 3 I'd agree with but they sound too much like Talking Heads here and I'd sooner listen to Talking Heads.

Your Period 4 I also agree with.
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Old 01-13-2012, 10:19 PM   #10 (permalink)
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aduhai! again with the Talking Heads comparison

just because Adrian Belew was there doesn't make them sound like the Heads
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