Friday, September 28, 2007

Anton (another Interlude)

The other day I decided to take a break from the project and listen to the Complete Anton Webern box set, 'cuz that's just how I roll, yo. At one point Christopher was out on the porch and the four year old who lives across the street told him "This music's silly." I don't know if those are the exact words I would have use to describe Webern's music, but I also don't know that he's wrong.

The good Judge Robert presiding... (pt. 5 of 5)

90's Double Trio

Talk about the return of the Crimson King!! VROOOM, THRAK, B'BOOM!!!! Say it loud, say it often. This band is so intense that they have to use all caps for their album titles. I do have to admit that I have a special place in my heart for this specific incarnation of Crimson since I got to see them live (once under, shall we say, interesting conditions), but even still I was blow away on this listen. And once again, the live material is where it's at. Interesting that for someone who usually doesn't particularly care for live recordings I've been tending to prefer them for every period of Crimson. My only regret is that I didn't have a copy of THRaKaTTaCK to listen to.

note: I was originally going to treat 90's to present as one entry, but upon listening decided that the material from this century is so significantly different that it warrants its own post.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Tonight we're gonna party like it's 1995 (an Interlude)

I've been reading "A Year with swollen appendices, Brian Eno's diary." He kept this diary during 1995, at which time he was working (to varying degrees) on David Bowie~Outside, James~Whiplash, Passengers~Original Soundtrack & Eno/Wobble~Spinner, all of which I've owned since they came out. I decided to take a day to listen to these four discs.

Outside Wow. This album truly keeps getting better and better. In the midst of the peaceful idyll of the mid-nineties, Bowie taps into an Orwellian paranoia that doesn't seem that far fetched today. The band is spectacular, and Eno's influence is abundant.

Whiplash Of these four albums, this is the one that Brian was the least involved with. It's chock full of great songs, and the band is tight, but in the context of an Eno review it hardly qualifies.

Original Soundtrack Essentially U2+Eno, this disc is going into heavy rotation for me. In terms of the diary, there is a rather detailed section when they are working on this album. As such it is excellent to be able to read about the in studio process, and then hear the end results.

Spinner This album has been, and continues to be an influence as a way of working. Essentially Eno handed a bunch of tapes over to Jah Wobble, who then added his own work. Oddly enough, even though all four of these albums remind me at least somewhat of specific times in my life, this disc gave me the strongest flashbacks as it were.

So in conclusion, most of my non-listening-project listening has been Eno-based. I am, after all, the fourth deadly Finn.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The good Judge Robert presiding... (pt. 4 of 5)

1980's: Discipline era.

What was it about the 80's that made everyone suck? Now, to imply that The Mighty King Crimson was ever less than stellar could earn you a black eye (or at least a scathing e-mail) in the nerdy circles I run with. However, if Discipline, Beat, and Three of a Perfect Pair were the entire recorded output of the King I don't think I would count myself as a Crim Head. The great irony here is the one line liner note in the first album which reads "Discipline is never an end in itself, only a means to an end." Listening to the studio albums, all I hear is the discipline. "Gosh, that sure sounds hard to play." It wasn't until about halfway through Three of a Perfect Pair that I realized what was missing. There was no danger, no edge. Particularly in contrast with the Larks' Tongue era. That band always seemed as if it was about to crush the listener by shear force of sound. And then I got to the live set Absent Lovers. It's almost as if before the show Fripp said to the guys "Ok, I want you to go out there and play this show like King Crimson!" The power and the beauty is there in these songs, but it only seemed to come out live. Perhpas there was something in the water in recording studios during the 80's that rotted the brains of great artists.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

The good Judge Robert presiding... (pt. 3 of 5)

I don't even know where to begin with this incarnation of Crimson. This has always been my favorite era, and I don't predict that that willl change during the current listening. Talk about a monster band. Bruford ('William' as he's credited on Starless) is amazing as always. No offence to any of the other fine bass players throughout the King's history, but nobody had the monster tone that Wetton had. And Cross and Fripp dance around one another while piercing into your brain. Not only is the song writing top-notch proggy-type goodness, but the improvising is so tight that all improvising rock bands should be forced to sit down and listen to the Great Deceiver box-set before they are allowed to jam again. My only regret is that the incredibly talented Jamie Muir is only present on Lark's Tongue. His various precussives add a level to that album that I think the other two studio albums and the live set lack. Perhaps I'll just have to improve my Music Improvisation Company collection before I get to M.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

The good Judge Robert presiding... (pt. 2 of 5?)

So last week I started King Crimson. After listening to the first two discs I have (In the Court of the Crimson King & Lizard) I decided that I owed it to Crimson to listen to the complete discography. A phone call and a disc later and, voila, I have the complete studio recordings and assorted live releases. Since I had inadvertently skipped over In The Wake of Poseidon, and I now have the early live discs of Epitaph, I decided to start again. After re-listening to Court at home the other day I got down to some serious Fripping out as it were yesterday. As it happens, with adding in the live material I now have between six and nine discs for each of the four major periods of Crimson. That means that I can listen to each period in a single work day. As a result, I will be publishing a brief post on each period.

Early years ('69~'72)
The live material from this era really points out how jazzy they were at the time. During several of the improvisations one could easily speculate that this was a jazz rock band, particularly during some of the woodwind solos. A lot of the studio material from this time seems hopelessly dated to me. With the notable exception of 21st Century Schiziod Man, there is no doubt that this band was still dealing with the hippie influence. One can almost imagine Fripp in the studio saying "Ok, seriously, when are we going to stop playing this hippie music. Will someone please wake me up when all of you are out of the band and we can play something with balls again?" Which is not to say that I didn't enjoy listening to these discs. There are some delightfully weird bits here and there, and I must admit that I love the sound of a Mellotron (are you listening Santa?) However, as beautiful as a song like Cadence & Cascade may be, it seems rather weak after the fury of Schiziod Man. Additionally, with having the perspective of knowing what lies ahead for Fripp & Co. I have to conclude that King Crimson would probably not be as important to me if this had been their entire output.