Tuesday, March 17, 2015

King Crimson - Starless (Discipline Global Mobile, 2014)

A massive love letter to fans, this walloping twenty-seven disc boxed set is the kind of love that stares in your windows and goes through your trash. This version of King Crimson was one of it’s most revered with leader Robert Fripp on guitar and mellotron, John Wetton on bass and vocals, David Cross on violin and keyboards and Bill Bruford on drums and percussion. The box covers the band’s 1973-1974 tour of Europe from Scotland to Germany. Setlists were relatively similar night to night, with the staples being the fan favorites like the crushing “Easy Money” and “The Great Deceiver” to the ethereal “Starless” and “The Night Watch.” What makes each of the concerts unique was the manner that the group brought the each performance, and the quality of the collectively improvised sections that bridged the songs. Each member of the group was a master of their instruments, and the improvised sections rival The Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return to Forever or any other jazz-fusion band of the day except for the massive electric funk groups of Miles Davis. Of particular interest are the so called “blue tapes” which are very high quality recordings and make up the heart of the set. There are several mixes of the original Starless and Bible Black studio album, both in stereo and surround sound, mastered by Steven Wilson, and there is high quality DVD-A and Blu-Ray material that presents certain concerts and studio recordings in higher fidelity. There is a lengthy booklet included with excellent photographs, diary entries and comments by the band members and an essay that puts the music in historical context. There is also a set of ephemera like replica concert posters and tickets and magazines to round out the package. But it all comes down to the music, and if there is one band that deserves this outrageous treatment it might very well be this one where the songs, improvisations and performances make for a titanic achievement. Starless (Deluxe box set) - amazon.com

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