Sunday, April 15, 2012
Straddling a line between beguiling creations ("Fallen Angel", "One More Red Nightmare") and frustrating noodling ("Providence"), Red still comes across as an astonishing slab of progressive rock. Inscrutable, impeccable figures are drawn from guitarist Robert Fripp's capable hands, with John Wetton and Bill Bruford contributing very busy and inspired foundation work.
Opening with the powerful instrumental title track, the trio clearly relish the opportunity to play games with time signatures in support of Fripp's ambitous lines. Dark synth sweeps creep in toward the three minute mark, interpolating with the ever inventive guitar work as the rhythm section disappears. Much like an ominous, passing cloud burst, this gives way for the full band to take up the theme all the way to its glorious finish.
Wetton's vocals hit the spot on all three tracks that showcase them. Bill Bruford brings his usual percussive brilliance to the proceedings, with a great anticipation for playing the spaces in between the notes. His tasteful approach generously allows the others to stretch out, though he reminds the listener that he's one of the best in the business when opportunities to dazzle present themselves.
Fripp's breaks in "One More Red Nightmare" seem as if they are visiting from another dimension.
Ghostly mellotron (courtesy of Fripp) announces "Starless", which is quite engaging for it's length. Free form, jazzy sections mingle with dreamier interludes in an extremely successful marriage. Not a note is wasted as Mel Collins goes for improvisational gold on sax.
Violinist David Cross excels.
This is the soundtrack of the future...even today.
Apart from the aforementioned "Providence", everything else is on target here. Armchair rock critic Kurt Cobain thought this disc to be one of the best of all time. Employing string and wind instruments in very clever arrangements also brings an array of sonic surprises to the table, adding a majestic air to some tracks. It certainly comes off as an offering outside (and slightly ahead) of it's time.
Fripp walked away from King Crimson before the release of Red in the fall of 1974 and no supporting tour was undertaken. Outside of a live disc (USA) that was issued in 1975, there was no further band activity until 1981.