For me, since 2000, I’ve been a huge admirer of King Crimson after buying their debut album, In the Court of the Crimson King from Soundwaves that changed my life on real good music. Robert Fripp described King Crimson as “A Way of Doing Things”. Despite various line-up changes from 1969 and onwards, they’ve never done me wrong. Starting in late November, the band will start their Fall tour in the States this year on October 19th at the Bass Concert Hall in Austin, Texas.
And they’ve unleashed a 5-track EP entitled, Heroes which the band recorded at live performances in Berlin, Paris, and Vienna last year in their European Tour in the fall of 2016. It was also a heavier year after the loss of the late great David Bowie on January 11th, so it was quite an honor for Fripp who worked with Bowie from the Heroes album in 1977 to Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps) in 1980, to show that he hasn’t forgotten him and knowing to keep his spirit alive.
Originally known as the “Seven-Headed Beast” line-up, Fripp takes it up a notch with now known as the “Double Quartet Foundation”. Which considers alongside Robert Fripp on Guitar & Keyboards, but Mel Collins on Sax and Flute, Tony Levin on Bass and Chapman Stick, Gavin Harrison, Pat Mastelotto, and Jeremy Stacey on Drums. Not to mention Stacey also plays Keyboards. And Jakko Jakszyk on Guitar and Lead Vocals.
When you listen to the Heroes EP, you can close your eyes and imagine yourself being at those concerts and just being in awe of seeing Crimson for the first time or a dozen times and being in awe of seeing Mel Collins back into the fold. The echoing reverb effects kick into an emotional vibe from Robert as he takes his guitar creating the sustained sound that was in the original album to create the pitched feedback as Jakko nails the song down as a celebration for the Thin White Duke and the original sessions at the Hansa Tonstudio overlooking the Berlin Wall 40 years ago on the opening title-track.
The three drummers (Gavin, Pat, and Jeremy) come into the center stage in the performance in Vienna with The Hell Hounds of Krim. Listening to this track, you can close your eyes and imagine the sounds of Taiko drumming in Japan, but adding an intense and thunderous beats and tempos throughout their kit and cymbals. It’s almost as if they are taking you through a journey of world music on their instruments, creating the scenarios and making you believe that the beasts is right inside the caves and is ready for their feast to be served with a vicious roaring voice.
Easy Money is a classic live during those live recordings. It’s a fabulous take of the song performed live. Jakko is not trying to hurt the song, but to honor and stay true to the piece and honor the late great John Wetton in his arrangement which he almost sounds like him to give the stamp of approval. Mel’s snarling sax comes at you in various moments in the piece.
Almost looking and peeking through the keyhole and seeing what the corruption of the government has become all of a sudden, Easy Money creates the tension of the dark side of what they’ve never told you behind those curtains in that midsection. Collins does some free-jazz scenario momentum on his sax and it’s the tension that creates the mysterious atmosphere between himself, Fripp, and Levin’s dooming bass and the clattering drum sections.
The only criticism I have is with Starless. While it’s an edited version of the laid-back emotional pieces from the Red album, I wish it could have been 11 or 15-minutes longer as it goes through the jazzier and mellotron-sque sections of a dream-like landscape of the lyrics, it would have been interesting to hear a full-length version of this song as the band into uncharted waters to give the audience a mind-blowing performance.
For me, this is not a bad EP. Yes it’s short with five pieces, but it’s quite a small journey to see what questions and answers lay ahead for Crimson to delve into the waters for. But this is a small peek of what is about to happen when they hit the road again this October in the States. So be prepare to see King Crimson live when they hit the States again. And enjoy the Heroes EP