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King Crimson - In The Court Of The Crimson King CD (album) cover

IN THE COURT OF THE CRIMSON KING

King Crimson

 

Eclectic Prog

4.60 | 3011 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Kotro
Prog Reviewer
5 stars PROGRESSIVE SUMMER RAMBLINGS - 1

Writing about music is like dancing about architecture. This phrase - with no clear origin, but often attributed to the likes of Zappa, Eno, Elvis Costello and Laurie Anderson - sounds awfully goofy. Yet there might be some truth in it. At least, on what it intends to state: that music is to be listened, not dissected in writing. I can relate to that - I don't generally like to write about music - or read about it, for that matter - when I can instead listen to it or make it myself.

However, the question should be posed: who has ever tried dancing about architecture? Have you ever tried? Have you ever been compelled to move those feet to the white silence of a minimalist building? If you have, Kraftwerk would probably be the soundtrack while you slide your feet and dance like a robot. Walking through the streets of Vienna, don't you just feel like waltzing? Don't you feel like swinging on the floor of the American lunchwagon lighted by the luminous jukebox? And don't tell me you don't hear Soft Machine and Caravan in the old walls of Canterbury.

Culture is all around us, and all intertwined, just like the human senses - sight and surround can evoke sound, and sound and rhythm will have physical effect on our bodies. So it possible, in a sense, to dance about architecture. And so, the same might be said regarding writing about music.

Writing about music can, however, be a pain in the but, especially if your knowledge of music theory is close to zero. How to describe the feelings produced by a certain listen? How do speak and write about the notes on a song, the tone and pitch of the singer, the use of instruentation - what are the proper adjectives to use? How do you write an album review? The only answer I can think of is "with honesty, and as best as you can".

As a musically unaware toddler, I had the good fortune and good guidance of a father who, not being entirely a prog-head, had an hear for fine music. At an age when pop and three minute radio singles should be making my day, he made me sat in the living room listening to Ravel's Bolero and Vivaldi's Four Seasons. My mother balanced things a bit by providing me with Queen and Spandau Ballet. Rock music was progressively growing on me, and it was only natural that my father presented me to a few other gems in his small music collection - Led Zeppelin II, This is the Moody Blues, CSN&Y's DejÓ V˙. Seeing that I was very much into that music, my father had the brilliant idea of showing me something "a little different". Enter the Crimson King.

How impressed I was, aged 8 or so, at the sight of the grotesque face in the enormous gatefold, telling me instantly that what I was about to hear was. not normal. As the needle touched the vinyl surface, I couldn't hear a thing. My father told to get near the speaker, and listen carefully, and so I did. I began hearing strange, electro-metalic sounds, but very faint. Then, out of nowhere - BAAM BAM BARAM BAM BAAM (I swear to you, my right ear never recovered. Thanks, Dad.)

Greg Lake's distorted vocals, Frippy's guitar, Ian's sax - all love at first listen in 2st Century Schizoid Man, the most delightfully wicked cacophony ever made. This track, with it's heavy sound and swift changes quickly became an all-time favorite. After such a sonic orgy, it is followed by the gentle I Talk To The Wind, one of the most beautiful songs ever with that exquisite flute playing. The mellotron-drenched, apocalyptic Epitaph (my fathers favourite) also became one of my favourites, although not as much as the first track. Still, what an ending to the first side! I remember the speakers trembling during the ending, what a rush!

The beginning of side two. It starts wonderfully, with my favourite guitar work by Fripp ever in Moonchild - this song could have been great. It was, in fact, great, for 3 and half minutes or so. After that, it was just a nice improvisational piece, with a few curious moments. Not a bad piece per si, but sub-par when compared with the rest of the album. However, even if long, it was still a good prelude to The Court of The Crimson King. The delicate instrumentation with slight nods to medieval music, the emphatic vocal chorus, the general sense of drama in the song - what is there not to like? An almost perfect closer. It ends the album on the same note as the beginning - delicate electronic sounds fading away before the main structure of the song is repeated, with that mellotron bringing the whole show to an end in a juicier, more bombastic ending. By now, I forget the initial surprise. My ears are thankful for this experience. Both to the band and to my father, and their demented sense of humour.

Kotro | 5/5 |

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