Friday, December 24, 2021

King Crimson - Music Is Our Friend: Live In Washington D.C. and Albany (DGM Records, 2021)

With the news that King Crimson could possibly have played their final concert, comes this double live album recorded in Washington and at The Egg in Albany, chronicling the 2021 tour. After a year off the road due to COVID-19 restrictions, the band sounds as good as ever, continuing the multiple drummer setup that has been a of the band ever since Robert Fripp resurrected it in 2014. The group plays a wide range of material from the length and breadth of the band's over fifty year existence. They dip into their early eighties period, previously unexplored, for interesting re-arrangements of "Neurotica" and "Indiscipline" as well as their own recent original material like the thundering "Hell Hounds of Crim." The material from the brilliant Red album, which was never toured after release in 1974 is particularly vibrant here, be it the skull hammering riffs of the title track, the wonderful saxophone of Mel Collins on "One More Red Nightmare" or the slow building shimmering and majestic "Starless" with its apocalyptic payoff. Their well known first album is also well represented, "In the Court of the Crimson King" was out of bounds for decades, before a revival in the triple drummer unit, and they drive it hard, and navigate the tricky passages with aplomb, creating a performance of startling vibrancy. "Epitaph" gets a particularly moody and atmospheric reading, setting the stage for a positively epic "21st Century Schizoid Man" that pulls out all the stops in terms of arrangement and performance, creating a musical monster that stalks the theatre. The opening and closing parts of "Larks' Tongues in Aspic" provide great contrast, with the experimental first part toying with sound and the second resolving into a driving rock instrumental. King Crimson has been releasing live albums of the most recent group nearly every year since the and re-formed in the middle of the decade. It has been interesting to listen to the band refine it's approach to their material, playing it with such power and grace, proving that truly progressive rock is hardly a pejorative term. Music is Our Friend: Live in Washington and Albany - amazon.com

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