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King Crimson Fractures Again

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A letter posted at the Trey Gunn website announces the latest dissolution of King Crimson (Line-up 6: the Double Duo).

All things must pass. And now, for me, life with King Crimson fulfills itself.

I am sending out this letter of thanks to all the people who have made the experience of being part of King Crimson such a powerful and vital one.

I am grateful to all the musicians who have I been able to share the stage, the creative process and the long bus rides with: Robert Fripp, Adrian Belew, Pat Mastelotto, Tony Levin and Bill Bruford. To be able to call these modular, glowing, rock solid, earth shaking and nimble characters my friends and allies has been a constant source of amazement to me…

Earlier this year, at the inevitability of the closing of this phase of my musical life, I spent some time looking back. I thought back to the original aims I had as a young musician. And much to my surprise, I discovered that I have realized them. They were simply and elegantly stated to myself at the time: I want to play with the best musicians on the planet and make the most powerful and unusual music possible. I have done that. And done it with this band: King Crimson. And… I don’t need to just keep on doing it over and over again.

This path has taken ten years (not to mention the previous eight working with Robert Fripp in many other projects.) During my time with the band we have put out 17 CDs, 2 DVDs, and brought to the stage hundreds of performances. Here again, a musician couldn’t ask for more.

Trey Gunn

There is as yet, no announcement of Fripp, Belew and Mastelotto’s future plans. Nor Bruford and Levin’s. Fripp has lately expressed increasing reluctance to carry on the life of a Traveling Gigster, but he still identifies himself as a Working Musician. While denying the role of “Leader” of King Crimson, he recogniizes some truth in the appellation “facilitator”. So, a Frippless King Crimson is less likely than no Crimson at all. Which may be the result if suitable musicians cannot or will not commit to bringing voice to the Crimson King. And Robert may choose to focus on Guitar Craft instead, and build himself a happier life. (All manner of uninformed speculation and ignorant advice can be found on an internet near you.)

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About Hazy Dave

  • Tom Johnson…step right up!!!

  • And here I am!

    I’m actually glad to see a shake up in the King’s lineup. While I love Gunn’s contributions, what I’ve witnessed both live and on recent live albums and DVDs seems to indicate that Gunn had begun to distance himself from the band. I can’t put a finger on why, but I was absolutely not surprised to hear him issue his resignation letter this weekend. Fripp is reported to have said earlier this year that a lineup change was likely because someone in the group had gotten a very rock-and-roll-attitude going, and it was likely that a “certain bald bassist” may show up again. I think it’s pretty simple to deduce that the rock-and-roll-attitude may be attributed to Gunn, who I’ve always felt was a bit of a ham at times (not quite the funny-guy ham that Adrian Belew is, however – and “ham” works okay as a front man, but not in the bass role, typically.)

    Gunn is clearly a devoted student of Fripp, but I think the key to vitality in Crimson is to not have too many like-minded players. If the band continues on, which seems to be in doubt at the moment, I would like to see them move in a new direction. I think it’s highly probable that Tony Levin will step back into the group, but Bruford will definitely not – jazz is his thing now, and Fripp has no interest in exploring music with acoustic drums at its core. I’m a big fan of what Pat Mastelotto has brought to the group and hope to see him continue with the band. If anything, he is the real spirit of the band at this moment, driving it forward with samples and unique drum riffs. Bringing Tony Levin, king of the bottom end, back into the fold would reorient the band away from the three-part guitar pieces. Who knows what they could come up with? I think it would be very interesting to get Tony back in to see him weave around Pat’s samples. The future of the band, as always, seems to hang in doubt.

    What would I really like to see? New blood. Adrian should step out and let a new guitarist take his place, and a brand new bass/Stick/Warr player should jump in too. I really hoped we’d see this at some point, but Fripp doesn’t take as many chances as he used to. I can’t see this happening, but it’s interesting to put up names – how about Mick Karn and David Torn?

  • Perhaps it is time for the Court of the Crimson King to empty. Lord knows, it has had a long and esteemed run. All things must pass, and the glorious music of all its various stages lives on regardless.

    Must admit, though, I would like the idea of Tony Levin rejoining the fold… Crimson has taken me on some amazing trips, the best of them propelled by his booming bottom.

  • Belew is definitely a funny guy. i saw Projeckt II (pick your number) and while Robert is sitting there looking like he’s having kidney problems, Belew is playing a dentist’s drill sample and making funny facial expressions.

    i’d love to be a fly on the wall when they put the music together.

    and who knows what Fripp really desires. i’ve read some of his online diaries and sometimes it sounds like he’d be happiest to just retire.

  • (Thanks for the Amazon Links, Eric. I thought I was just saving a Draft, intending to add some later!)

  • Fripp’s kind of become that cranky old man of rock. But instead of “stay off my lawn!” his mantra is “don’t violate my feeble connection with the muse by taking flash photography or bootlegging our concerts.” When you get to the point where your creative energy is diminished simply by someone showing up with a camera, or sensing the presence of a recording device in the audience (yes, Fripp has said this!), it sounds like you’re really not enjoying yourself anymore. I’d love to see them go on, but they’ve had a great 34 year run (well, on and off, I guess.) If this is the end, so be it. If Fripp wants to continue on, I’d like to see him re-embrace the spirit of rock n’ roll and just play, regardless of the distractions.

  • what i’d really like is to hear Fripp unplugged from his outboard gear.

    just a guitar and an amp.

    oh yea.

  • Eric Olsen

    thanks Dave, I didn’t want the story to get too buried.

  • Oooh, Mark, that would be awesome, wouldn’t it?

  • I’ve been praying Fripp/co. would dump the midi stuff for years. While I enjoy the freedom it gets them, I’d love to hear Fripp ripping it up through a stompbox and a stack like he did before Eno brought tape-loops into his life.

    A few years ago I thought I might go insane because of my infatuation with the group – Fripp entered into a period where nearly everything he played had either a vibraphone patch or a piano patch applied to it, and it got real irritating, real quick. I would not miss it if someone were to destroy all vibes/piano patches in the world . . .

  • a sortof-related note:

    i happened to look at the Belew website this morning.

    here’s his description of how they (adrien & his wife) spent halloween:

    Adrian and his wife, Martha recently attended a Halloween party at the home of Maynard (TOOL) Keenan and Martha took the stage with a frighteningly powerful rendition of the B-52’s “Love Shack” with guitarist Twiggy (Marilyn Manson) Ramirez handling the Fred Schneider parts and Martha as Cindy Wilson. Boo!

  • Gunn’s solos at the end of Deception of the Thrush were a highlight of the KC shows I saw in recent years.

  • Thrush is definitely one of the key pieces that this incarnation of Crimson has developed, from its inception as a piece from one of the ProjeKcts. I was hoping for more material in that direction but the band steered more in a direction similar to the 70s work, which, while interesting, is only the surface of what this group could probably accomplish. For all this version’s successes, I feel they failed to live up to the expectations promised with the ProjeKcts, unfortunately. Fripp hinted in his Nov. 12 diary that “further fractalization” may occur, likely with the knowledge of Gunn’s departure. I hope so – the four ProjeKcts were some of the most exciting material the band has done in a long time.