Jim Lange Published

King Crimson 2014: Joy?


"Everything you've heard about King Crimson is true. It's an absolutely terrifying place." ~Bill Bruford

King Crimson – a place where the music might resemble a tsunami, a typhoon, a hurricane and that’s just the nice bits. King Crimson – where musical ideas such as acerbic Bartokian Jimi Hendrix guitar riffs, wicked bass lines and polyrhythmic drumming are commonplace. King Crimson – where the 21st century schizoid man roams in all his fractured red nightmares.

Those are some pretty fanciful words, but KC is a force of nature when all of these disparate elements come together. It’s like witnessing something truly magical. It’s as if the players are no longer individuals, but merely pawns in the service of the “good fairy” (Robert Fripp and company’s term.) – something that enters and animates the players into music.

Most Crimsos now know that King Crimson, that eternal flame of creativity in contemporary music, is back in business.  The KC 2014 lineup can be found here.

What we didn’t expect was descriptions of “joy” being involved in the rehearsal place. From the RF diary August 25, 2014:

King Crimson Principles.

1.    May King Crimson bring joy to us all. Including me.
2.    If you don’t want to play a part, that’s fine! Give it to someone else – there’s enough of us.
3.    All the music is new, whenever it was written.
4.    If you don’t know your note, hit C#.
5.    If you don’t the time, play in 5. Or 7.
6.    If you don’t know what to play, get more gear.
7.    If you still don’t know what to play, play nothing.

Here’s what bassist Tony Levin said about rejoining King Crimson:

"For me, it's about 5 days into rehearsing that my musical brain finally arrives back in Crimson land. It's kind of a way of thinking, and somewhat different ways of playing. I can try to jump into it right away, but some parts of me lag behind. Also, after a few days playing this music, 4/4 time signature seems as foreign as a language you studied back in school. 7/4 or more complex, becomes the norm. You even start to dream in it."

The working strategy or paradigm for King Crimson is unlike any other “rock” band. The fans expect the unexpected, but above, some serious chops from these mighty players. And a wild musical ride unlike any other.

There is joy in Crimson after all.