Somewhere in America, the prog-rock mastodon that is King Crimson is lumbering into action for the first time since 2008 – during which time the band’s baffling mastermind, West Country Hannibal Lecter Robert Fripp, repeatedly insisted he’d retired. Crimson Mk VIII, as he calls it, is an ungainly creation, six musicians, three of them drummers, with the traditional rhythm section at the forefront, guitar and vocals languishing in the back. It sounds very noisy and not altogether pleasant to listen to.
Here, though, are the fruits of a collaboration where the Fripp juggernaut was harnessed for poppier purposes – footage from a 1993 performance with David Sylvian, ex-lead singer of the band Japan, with whom Fripp assisted on a string of early 90s projects. A word of warning – as so often when you take a trip down the promenade of prog, you’ll have to power down your pretension detectors to like this one. Zen-calm Sylvian gives a fascinatingly unruffled performance, his droll baritone warble far more effective than it should be, but his ‘deep’ lyrics – ‘I’ll tear my very soul to make you mine’ – can veer into cringe-worthy territory. Fripp soars and trills like a nuclear-powered Les Paul, and it’s all very lovely if sampled in moderation.
Early this year, Robert Fripp appeared to retire. This week, he’s announced that King Crimson are reforming, his protracted legal wrangles with Universal Group apparently resolved, which is all very surprising. We’ve never been all that fond of King Crimson, preferring Fripp’s less forbidding collaborations with other artists, and this isn’t likely to change by the sound of what’s been released about the band’s latest configuration. One-time Zappa sideman, Talking Heads dynamo and impressionistic guitar wizard Adrian Belew is out, which is a shame, because for thirty years he’s been Crimson’s bouncily enthusiastic human face. He’s been replaced by three drummers – interesting in theory, but not the nicest thing to listen to either. But never mind – it provides a decent enough excuse to showcase ‘Elephant Talk’, Crimson at its campest, silliest, and most accessible, mostly thanks to Mr Belew, here resplendent in pink. This video also documents one of the Halley’s Comet occurrences when Robert Fripp actually smiles on stage.
Oh, and go on then – the rather more geriatric early 2000s version too.
For some annoying reason, if you want to actually watch the video bit of a WordPress-embedded YouTube video rather just hear the audio, you have to either watch it fullscreen or click to watch it on YouTube itself.
It’s an exciting day for the Bemolution. Art-rock colossus David Bowie has startlingly reappeared from a decade of silent exile that many read as retirement, marking his 66th birthday by issuing his first musical peep since 2003. Four-minute single ‘Where Are We Now?’ was laconically deposited on ITunes with no prior warning, no comment from the man himself and little else beyond the promise of a full album to follow in March. Continue reading
Bowie, Fripp & Eno
As promised/threatened, a selection of Robert Fripp’s work for your aural edification. A very selective selection. King Crimson can be quite nice in places, but Fripp’s main musical outfit has always a bit faceless and machine-like for the Bemolution’s tastes. Unless you’re the most die-hard of die-hards, you can’t take very much of that kind of real, unflinching, hard-core prog before collapsing into your own personal Year Zero and gorging yourself on Black Flag and Muddy Waters for hours before you can take another side of Lark’s Tongues in Aspic.
So here’s Fripp with Bowie instead – ‘Joe the Lion’ from 1977’s “Heroes”, and ‘Fashion’ and from 1980’s Scary Monsters.
The Bemolution recently read in its music rag of choice that Robert Fripp has retired. Robert Fripp is a 66 year-old rock guitarist responsible for producing some of the oddest, angriest, most un-guitar-like noises in the history of the instrument, in addition to being one of the strangest men alive.
He first surfaces in the annals of rock in the late 1960s as axeman and de facto leader of King Crimson, the band that pioneered the much, sometimes justifiably maligned medium of progressive rock. Crimson would go through various incarnations over the next four decades, but Fripp’s best work almost always came about when his prodigious talents were paired with someone else’s creative vision – David Bowie’s, Brian Eno’s, David Sylvian’s and others. Continue reading