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King Crimson

Red

Review by Gary Hill

For my money, Red is King Crimson's most consistent and powerful album. The disc combines the hard edged sound that I think works the best for Crimson with both highly accessible and very creative song writing to produce an album that holds up exceptionally well. I also feel that the song Starless is quite probably the most perfect example of progressive rock ever produced. All in all, this album is very listenable and a wonderful sonic exploration.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2003 Year Book Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Red
Thundering in with an opening theme based on power and mild chaos. The cut changes gear to a new hard-edged jam. The band work through various reworkings of the theme before a transforming mode moves it into the next segment, a more moody and contemplative one.
Fallen Angel
Weird hard edged ambient overtones start this, making it feel like it is about to explode into hard edged musical fury. Instead, the song comes in as a gentle Wetton era KC ballad. This one is still rather quirky and intriguing, but quite accessible. It's a great breather and does include a harder edged jam of a chorus.
One More Red Nightmare
Slightly off kilter, this one is more KC hard-edged prog fury.
Providence
This one starts with ambient sedate strings. The cut moves forward in near classical modes for quite a time, but also move into the vein of near chaotic weirdness. Eventually, the weird tones take control, the song moving into near cacophony in its seemingly random wanderings. This is one of those KC instrumental jams that seem a bit hard to figure out or rationalize.
Starless
From the weird to the purely sublime, this cut is arguably the best KC has ever done, and I really think it might be one of the most perfect examples of what progressive rock should be. Mellow, heavily synthesized tones begin it in a haunting ballad style, and the instruments paint an enchanting melody to make up the introduction. This segment becomes the verse mode of the piece, gradually growing and expanding, the band reworking the central melody, creating a wonderful musical tapestry from it, sax wailing wonderfully overtop for much of the piece. Eventually it moves into an expressive instrumental reinterpretation of the central melodic themes before returning to the verse. After a time, the cut shifts a wandering sort of melodic, while quite exploratory jam. The band work this way through this exploration for quite some time before moving into a fast paced new jam. This moves the cut back to an instrument melodic section, this time reworked into amore powerful version. The conclusion is so completely satisfying that I have always thought that the first few seconds of silence after the cut are actually part of the song.
 
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