Music / King Crimson

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"Everything you've heard about King Crimson is true. It's an absolutely terrifying place...In Yes was an endless debate about should it be F♮ in the bass with G♯ on top with the organ, or should it be the other way round. In King Crimson, almost nothing was said. You were just supposed to know."
Bill Bruford, 2009 interview

King Crimson is a band that began in 1968 in London, from the first generation of Progressive Rock groups. They've pretty much existed ever since, despite some pretty regular break-ups and reformations (1968–74, 1981–84, 1994–2004, 2007–08, 2013–). Also debatably proof that time travel is real.

The only constant member of the band is guitarist and mastermind Robert Fripp, and indeed the band's 1968–74 period was plagued by constantly shifting lineups. It's most stable lineup was between 1981 and 1984, where they toured as a four-piece, and from 1994 to 1998, when that same four-piece took on two additional members. The present iteration is a seven-piece band that contains two new members, along with five previous members, inlcuding one (Mel Collins) who'd hadn't played with the band for nearly 30 years.

Their music is characterised by really impressive instrumental technique, Uncommon Time signatures, Epic Rocking, pretty extreme dynamic contrasts, lots of Improv, lyrics that usually sound cooler than they read (when they appear), and a large percentage of tunes that seem specifically designed just to fuck with your head.

Not counting any ProjeKcts - side albums from various subsets of the band, used as "research and development", according to Fripp - King Crimson had been on another hiatus since 2009. And in August 2012, Fripp announced his retirement from live performance, seemingly disbanding the group.

However, in September 2013 he announced the new seven-piece lineup (which includes three drummers) which began touring in 2014. It initially was billed by Fripp as a 'farewell' tour, but then the seven-piece line-up also toured in 2015, and now will be mounting another tour in fall of 2016. But, as Fripp recently turned 70 and his dissatisfaction with the state of the music industry is well documented, each re-formation or line-up change could someday be the last.

Has spawned two bands, 21st Century Schizoid Band and The Crimson ProjeKCt, comprised of former and current members who also play the band's repertoire, ostensibly with Fripp's blessing. Four of the current seven-piece band are in these units as well, putting the status of both effectively on hold.

Current band members:
  • Robert Fripp (1968–): guitar, guitar synthesizer, etc.
  • Mel Collins (1970–72, 2013–): saxophone, flute, Mellotron
  • Tony Levin (1981–99, 2003–): Chapman Stick, bass
  • Pat Mastelotto (1994–): drums, percussion
  • Gavin Harrison (2007–): drums
  • Jakko Jakkszyk (2013–): guitars, lead vocals
  • Jeremy Stacey (2016-): drums note 

Former band members:
  • Ian McDonald (1968–69): saxophone, flute, Mellotron
  • Greg Lake (1968–70): bass, vocals
  • Michael Giles (1968–69): drums
  • Peter Sinfield (1968–72): VCS 3 synthesizer, lyrics
  • Gordon Haskell (1970): bass, vocals
  • Andy McCulloch (1970): drums
  • Boz Burrell (1971–72): bass, vocals
  • Ian Wallace (1971–72): drums
  • John Wetton (1972–74): bass, vocals, piano
  • Jamie Muir (1972–73): percussion, drums
  • Bill Bruford (1972–97): drums, percussion
  • David Crossnote  (1972–74): violin, Mellotron, piano
  • Richard Palmer-James (1973–74): lyrics
  • Trey Gunn (1994–2003): touchstyle guitar, Chapman Stick, fretless bass
  • Adrian Belew (1981–2013): guitar, vocals
  • Bill Rieflin (2013–2016): drums

Additional musicians:
  • Peter Giles (1970): bass
  • Keith Tippett (1970–71): piano
  • Jon Anderson (1970): vocals
  • Nick Evans (1970): trombone
  • Robin Miller (1970–71, 1974): oboe, cor anglais
  • Marc Charig (1970–71, 1974): cornet
  • Harry Miller (1971): double bass
  • Paulina Lucas (1971): vocals
  • Eddie Jobson (1975): violin, piano, recruited to add violin to the live album USA whenever Cross' contributions were lost to technical issues

Studio album discography and notable songs:
  • In the Court of the Crimson King (LP, 1969) - "21st Century Schizoid Man", "Epitaph", "The Court of the Crimson King"
  • In the Wake of Poseidon (LP, 1970) - "Pictures of a City", "Cat Food", "The Devil's Triangle"
  • Lizard (LP, 1970) - "Cirkus", "Lizard"
  • Islands (LP, 1971) - "Ladies of the Road"
  • Larks' Tongues in Aspic (LP, 1973) - "Larks' Tongues in Aspic, Part One", "Easy Money", "Larks' Tongues in Aspic, Part Two"
  • Starless and Bible Black (LP, 1974) - "The Great Deceiver", "The Night Watch", "Fracture" note .
  • Red (LP, 1974) - "Red", "Starless" note 
  • Discipline (LP, 1981) - "Elephant Talk", "Matte Kudasai", "Thela Hun Ginjeet"
  • Beat (LP, 1982) - "Heartbeat", "Sartori in Tangier"
  • Three of a Perfect Pair (LP, 1984) - "Three of a Perfect Pair", "Sleepless", "Larks' Tongues in Aspic Part III"
  • VROOOM (EP, 1994) - "Sex, Sleep, Eat, Drink, Dream"
  • THRAK (LP, 1995) - "Dinosaur", "Walking On Air"
  • The ContruKction of Light (LP, 2000) - "FraKctured", "Larks' Tongues in Apsic Part IV"
  • Happy with What You Have to Be Happy With (EP, 2002) - "Eyes Wide Open", the title track note 
  • The Power to Believe (LP, 2003) - studio versions of "Level Five" & "Dangerous Curves" note , new versions of "Eyes Wide Open" and "Happy With What You Have To Happy With"

"ProjeKct" studio album discography:
  • (as "ProjeKct Two") Space Groove (LP) - 1997
  • (as "ProjeKct X") Heaven and Earth (LP) - 2000
  • (as "Jakko Jakszyk, Robert Fripp, and Mel Collins - A King Crimson ProjeKct") A Scarcity of Miracles (LP) - 2011

The band has released several live albums; the most-well known are arguably Earthbound (1972) and USA (1974) from its John Wetton-led early lineup, while the most loved among fans tend to be The Night Watch and The Great Deceiver, which document the Wetton-era lineup, and Absent Lovers, which represents the 1980s-era Belew-led lineup. Fripp also has released forty-seven King Crimson and ProjKct live albums between 1998-2016, independently through the King Crimson Collector's Club series, which was subscription-based at its inception, but of which all are now available individually.

Fripp's label, Discipline Global Mobile, also has nearly six hundred recordings available for sale via download, ranging from full concerts (at times even entire tours) from every stage of the band, along with compliations of rehearsals, rare mixes, and demos. Fripp, ever the archivist, notes each recording's sound quality and source, at times along with notes from his diary. note 


Tropes:

  • Added Alliterative Appeal: Each verse of "Elephant Talk" is a list of words that mean "talk" that share the same first letter. This gets lampshaded in the fourth verse with the line "These are words with a D this time."
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: In a live performance of "Thela Hun Ginjeet", Adrian Belew recounts how the gang he encountered wanted to "Kill me! Rip my limbs off! Smash my tape recorder!"
  • Bald of Awesome: Tony Levin.
  • Berserk Button: Robert Fripp hates (unsolicited) flash photography during concerts (and doesn't feel too hot about bootlegs, either).
    • To the point of actually stopping concerts when it happens and having the roadies take away the camera.
    • Don't ask him for an autograph either.
      • Specifically, RF believes that such things screw with a musician's ability to perform music in a honorable fashion. If you're "the right person," (who isn't out to sell autographed material, disrupt performances, or ask anything of him so you can brag about it to your buds later), at "the right place," (namely, not at concerts or out of the blue on the street), at "the right time" (when he's prepared to do such things), you may just get lucky.
    • Generally, anything to do with the inherently shitty nature of the music business (such as the folding of the record label King Crimson was under due to unsound business practices, ill-designed venues, self-serving promoters, jerkass "fans," and a consistent ignorance of anything KC did after 1974 by the press and the public alike) can cause the soft-spoken Englishman to make the word "fuck" REALLY stick more than any DI could hope to achieve.
      • It took decades, with the discography passing through a few different labels, but Fripp now finally controls the Crimson catalog. Beginning in 2008, each album is being re-issued, with new stereo mixes, bonus material, and a 5.1 surround mix (coordinated by Fripp and produced by Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree) on the majority of them. When we say bonus material, by the way, we mean a lot of bonus material. Some releases have as many as twenty discs.
  • Bolero Effect: They first tried this out with their simplified cover version of Gustav Holst's "Mars", and by five years on, "Starless" used this to the point where it could be considered an Ur-Example of Post-Rock. It's not their only usage of the trope; "Lizard" and "The Devil's Triangle" are other good examples.note 
  • Breather Episode: Most of the band's early albums have a Surprisingly Gentle Song somewhere along the middle to provide a break from the otherwise unrelenting bleakness.
  • Broken Record:
    "I repeat myself when under stress, I repeat myself when under stress, I repeat myself when under stress, I repeat-"
    "In the court of the crimson kiiiiiiiiiing ahhhhhhhhhhhhh... kiiiiiiiiiing ahhhhhhhhhhh..."
  • Cover Version: "Get Thy Bearings" by Donovan, "Mars, the Bringer of War" (from The Planets) by Gustav Holst, "Prism" by Pierre Favre, "'Heroes'" by David Bowie (note: Fripp played guitar on the original version of this song, and Belew played the song live as a member of Bowie's touring band).
  • Crapsack World: "21st Century Schizoid Man" and "Epitaph" from In the Court of the Crimson King both describe this kind of world.
  • Darker and Edgier: Many albums, notably Red.
    • The whole Wetton, Cross and Bruford line-up could be considered this. After the complete personnel turnover from Islands to Larks' Tongues in Aspic, the band metamorphosed from a lush, symphonic prog band into almost a metal group. Starless and Bible Black is probably every bit as edgy as Red but just not quite as heavy.
    • Allmusic's review of In the Court of the Crimson King even refers to the trope by name.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Robert Fripp and Bill Bruford.
  • Epic Rocking: To a T. The best example from the band's studio work is the twenty-three-minute "Lizard", though they have done so much of this throughout their career that they practically count as the Trope Codifiers. (If counted as one song, "Larks' Tongues in Aspic" would be even longer, at around thirty-six minutes; however, it was released in four separate parts across three albums).
    • Robert Fripp needs his own special tuning to rock this epically.
    • Adrian Belew also qualifies. His ability to make his guitar sound like another instrument or an animal call, combined with the dexterity of the other band members, is probably what Fripp meant on making Crimson a "Small, mobile, intelligent, self sufficient unit".
    • They indulged in this so much in their early years that their management advised them to give titles and track listings to the individual sections of their longer songs, the reason being that if you've got a song that's so long it takes up one entire side of an album, the composers only get royalties for one track, but if it consists of four or five tracks gathered into a "suite", they get royalties for each track.
  • Foreign Language Title: "Matte Kudasai", "Nuages (That Which Passes, Passes Like Clouds)", "Shoganai"
  • The Gift: Fripp says that Tony Levin has this, in that Levin's a natural musician who can fit into any context and who learns difficult-to-impossible parts with ease, whereas by contrast, when Fripp himself started to learn guitar he was tone-deaf and had no sense of rhythm, and only reached his current level of virtuosity by means of self-imposed Training from Hell.
  • Gratuitous Panning: The studio version of "VROOOM" from the THRAK album is mixed with with half of the band members (Fripp, Gunn, and Bruford) on the left channel and the other half (Belew, Levin, Mastelotto) on the right channel.
  • Have a Gay Old Time: "Faggot" in "The Great Deceiver" is intended to refer to a skinny person (the "stick" definition of the word), not as a gay slur. Richard Palmer-James was apparently pretty embarrassed when he remembered the word's alternate meaning (which was not commonly used in the United Kingdom at the time, so this could also be an example of Did Not Do the Bloody Research or Separated by a Common Language).
  • Hidden Track: Islands has one (see Studio Chatter below). Several other live recordings also sometimes contain them, though they're usually just speeches by Fripp or one of the other band members.
  • Instrumentals: Lots of them. Some King Crimson fans resent that they do songs with vocals at all.
  • Improv: From beloved ("Asbury Park", "Trio") to almost universally despised by fans.
    • A curious example: "The Deception of the Thrush", an improvisation featured on many King Crimson live albums. Each iteration follows the same basic structure, but with wild variations in actual content.
  • Intercourse with You: Not many of their songs; "Ladies of the Road" is one exception.
    • And "Easy Money" from Larks' Tongues in Aspic
  • Japanese Stock Phrases: "Matte Kudasai" (lit. "please wait"), "Shoganai" (a variant of "shikata ga nai")
  • Last Note Nightmare: "21st Century Schizoid Man" is probably the best known example, but the band use this trope pretty often. It's especially commonplace during live improvisations.
  • Lead Bassist: The band has a history of this. Greg Lake, Boz Burrell and John Wetton are good examples, but although Tony Levin only sings backing vocals he's still more of a showman than Fripp. In the 2014- lineup of the band, Jakko Jakszyk is the lead singer and he, too, is less of a showman than Levin.
  • Limited Special Collector's Ultimate Edition: Starting in 2012, there have been four massive boxsets produced, each limited to a single production run of between 3000 and 7000 copies:
    • A 15-disc boxset commemorating the 40th Anniversary of Larks' Tongues in Aspic in 2012;
    • 2013's The Road to Red, A 24-disc collection of material of the three-piece (Wetton/Bruford/Fripp) 1974 lineup;
    • 2014's Starless, a 27-disc collection of material of the 1973-1974 lineup that released Starless and Bible Black;
    • 2015's THRAKBOX, is a 17-disc collection of material of the 'double trio' lineup of the mid-1990s.
    • In October, 2016, a new box set, On and Off The Road 1981-1984 will be released documenting the Fripp/Belew/Levin/Bruford years.
    • Starting in 2009, the studio albums began to be re-released as 2-disc '40th Anniversary Editions', most with newly-minted stereo mixes, rarities, and all featuring newly-produced 5.1 surround mixes by either Jakko Jakkszyk or Steven Wilson.
  • List Song: "Elephant Talk" lists ways to say talking ("Arguments, agreements, advice, answers...")
    • "Coda: I Have a Dream" (from "Larks' Tongues in Aspic Part IV") lists major events of the 20th century.
    • "Coda: Marine 475" (from "VROOOM") lists… something… related to "a Lloyd's insurance syndicate which suffered huge financial losses..."
      • The song alludes to King Crimson's former label, E.G. Records. The two executives who owned the label, Sam Alder and Mark Fenwick, deliberately delayed paying out artists' royalties, instead using the money to invest in a multitude of insurance schemes and real estate deals, most notably with Lloyd's Of London. They also took advantage of Fripp's semi-retirement in the mid-1970's to convince him to sign over the publishing rights of KC's catalog over to E.G. as well (meaning Fripp no longer had any control on how King Crimson music was released or used). Due to a real estate bubble bursting in the late 80s, coupled with a tidal wave of insurance claims made against Lloyd's (claims many thought Lloyd's knew about but deliberately delayed paying, to make it look more attractive to investors) Alder & Fenwick were bankrupted, and couldn't pay its artists what they were owed. So they sold E.G. to Virgin Records, without telling Fripp, and then offered all the label's artists a lump sum settlement (read: bribe), which included a clause to release E.G. for wrong-doing, to avoid them later getting taken to court for mismanagement. Fripp refused to take a pay-off, and took Alder & Fenwick to court. After a really long (and expensive) lawsuit, he managed to get his publishing rights back, and then ultimately control of the entire Crimson catalog, so now that any future releases and re-releases will all be through his own label, Discipline Global Mobile (or licensed by Fripp to other labels for distribution). The entire fiasco (along with his disdain for online distribution, including a well-publicized row with Grooveshark) is in part why he left public performance in 2009.
      • TL;DR: Marine 475 was the name of one of Lloyd's of London's property schemes that E.G. Records execs had bought into with the money they kept from their artists. When Lloyd's became besieged with claims, along with accusations of fraud, it lead to the collapse of the label. note 
      • Epilogue: Fripp, once in control of Crimson's catalog, has overseen an extensive re-release of the band's recordings, including versions created especially for online distribution like iTunes.
  • Long Title: "The World's My Oyster Soup Kitchen Floor Wax Museum", "Mother Hold the Candle Steady While I Shave the Chicken's Lip"
  • Loudness War: Thankfully, almost always completely averted, as Robert Fripp hates modern recording industry practices. One release that dips into this a slight amount is the second disc of Ladies of the Road, but it's extremely rare for this problem to plague even modern releases of Crimson's music.
  • Minimalistic Cover Art: Earthbound has only the band name and album name on a black background. Discipline, Beat, and Three of a Perfect Pair each have a symbol, the band name, and album name on a solid-color background. Red just has a picture of the band's lineup at the time (Fripp, Wetton and Bruford), with text and title. Larks' Tongues in Aspic probably takes the cake, having just a symbol on a stark white background.
    • Actually, every single album they've made between 1973 and 2000. These guys don't usually go for Design Student's Orgasm.
    • Most of Crimson's archival releases and box sets released from 1998 onward are done by the same artist, P.J. Crook. She also did the artwork for A Scarcity of Miracles.
  • Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: From 1 to 7, depending on the era and the song. For their time, they probably qualified as an 11 on some songs (particularly "21st Century Schizoid Man", "Larks' Tongues in Aspic, Part Two", and "Red"), though.
    • A circa-1975 interview with Robert Fripp mentions the difference in the public's perception of the band, depending on the country: in America, they were seen almost as something one would put on a suit and tie to go see, while they were considered elsewhere to be some kind of killer metal.
  • Mood Whiplash: They were masters of this, starting from the first album. The Last Note Nightmare of "21st Century Schizoid Man" transitions almost directly into the Surprisingly Gentle Song "I Talk to the Wind".
  • Motor Mouth: Adrian Belew in "Neurotica".
  • Mythology Gag: The lyrics of "The World's My Oyster Soup Kitchen Floor Wax Museum" include references to earlier Crimson songs, in particular "Larks' Tongues in Aspic" ("happy as a lark's tongue in cheek bone china doll") and "Frame by Frame" ("the world's my oyster soup kitchen door frame by frame").
    • "Walking on Air" (from 1995) includes the lyric "In between the deep blue sea and the sheltering sky", and one of their instrumentals (from 1981) is titled "The Sheltering Sky" (itself a reference to a novel by Paul Bowles).
    • Then there are "FraKctured", "Larks' Tongues in Aspic Part III", "Larks' Tongues in Aspic Part IV", and "Fearless and Highly Thrakked", whose titles refer to earlier songs/instrumentals.
  • New Sound Album: One of the kings of this trope.
  • The Not Remix: The "40th Anniversary Series" of album reissues, and two tracks ("Cadence and Cascade" and "Bolero - The Peacock's Tale") on the compilation Frame by Frame.
  • Post-Rock: As mentioned above, "Starless" is sometimes cited as an Ur-Example for this genre. The lengthy Bolero Effect-laden instrumental passage is a major reason for this.
  • Progressive Rock: One of the Trope Makers and Trope Codifiers.
  • Protest Song: They have a few. "21st Century Schizoid Man" protests The Vietnam War, "Lament" protests record industry politics, etc.
  • Pun-Based Title: In addition to the examples under Mythology Gag, a lot of their improvs get these (which also double as Mythology Gags). "Clueless and Slightly Slack", "The Fright Watch", "Sharks' Lungs in Lemsip"...
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: The vocal sections of "Thela Hun Ginjeet" come straight from Adrian Belew's frazzled story of being confronted by gangsters just minutes earlier. As Belew began his story, Robert Fripp signalled to the studio engineer to begin recording.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: When the showmanlike, somewhat flamboyant Adrian Belew and the focused, intellectual Robert Fripp are put on the same stage, this kind of interaction inevitably results.
  • Revolving Door Band: See above.
  • Rock Me, Amadeus!: "The Devil's Triangle" has some obvious similarities to "Mars, the Bringer of War" from Gustav Holst's The Planets, but different enough to not be a copyright violation. (They either didn't ask for permission or were denied permission to record it at that time. Later on, some archival live albums such as Epitaph included recordings of their adaptation of "Mars, the Bringer of War" that they performed live in 1969, titled simply "Mars".)
  • Rock Trio: The lineup just before their mid-70s hiatus. In the 90s, King Crimson's six-man lineup was billed as being two Rock Trios put together.
  • Sampling: In a rather unexpected move, the Title Drop of "21st Century Schizoid Man" was sampled in Kanye West's "Power" from My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, as were parts of the line "Neurosurgeons scream for more".
  • Scare Chord: Several, but the one in "The Devil's Triangle" is particularly jarring.
    • Another one happens at the end of "Dangerous Curves", after about six minutes of tension building up.
  • Scary Musician, Harmless Music: Inverted. King Crimson are one of the most terrifying bands ever, but Fripp is a polite, soft-spoken intellectual.note 
  • Self-Deprecation: Fripp loves to quote the band's more negative reviews, and adopted as a badge of pride one 80s music journalist's description of the band as "prog rock pond scum, set to bum you out".
  • Shout-Out: The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix and Rupert Bear are depicted on the cover of Lizard.
    • The lyrics of "Happy Family" (from Lizard) are widely believed to be a thinly-veiled reference to The Beatles' breakup ("Silas" = George, "Rufus" = Ringo, "Jonah" = John, "Jude" = Paul), which would explain the cover illustration.
    • The opening lyrics to "Epitaph" reference Simon & Garfunkel's "The Sounds of Silence"
  • Shout-Out to Shakespeare: One section of "Epitaph" is called "Tomorrow and Tomorrow", which is fitting since the song is about death and despair.
  • Something Blues: "ProzaKc Blues".
  • Silly Love Songs: You wouldn't expect to see this trope here, but there you are. "Cadence and Cascade".
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: A French porn studio in the mid 70s used "Larks' Tongues in Aspic, Part Two" in one of their films (Emmanuelle). While Fripp was irked that they didn't ask for his permission to use the track, he commented/joked in his online diary that they actually couldn't have picked a better KC song to use (honestly, the song does have certain raunchy, sexy overtones). Nonetheless, the heaviness of the piece might seem a bit off to some.
  • Spoken Word in Music: "Elephant Talk," "Indiscipline," "Thela Hun Ginjeet," "Neurotica," "Dig Me", "Coda: Marine 475"note 
    • "Larks' Tongues in Aspic, Part One", near its end, includes a recording of the play "Gallowglass": "[...] you shall be hanged by the neck upon a gibbet until you are dead", with a Scare Chord at the same time as the word "dead".
  • Studio Chatter: Right at the end of the Islands album, there's a recording of the string and woodwind musicians rehearsing "Prelude: Song of the Gulls". Also doubles as a Hidden Track.
  • Surprisingly Gentle Song: There is often at least one of these per album in their '60s and '70s work. "I Talk to the Wind", "Cadence and Cascade", "Peace - A Theme", "Lady of the Dancing Water", "Prelude: Song of the Gulls", "Islands", "Book of Saturday", "The Night Watch", and "Trio" provide examples for the first six albums (Red arguably does not possess an example). If we're counting Robert Fripp's work outside King Crimson, his collaborations with Brian Eno would also count (for Fripp, anyway), as they consist of serene ambient music that is light-years removed from the chaotic, dissonant prog Fripp was known for at the time.
    • "Matte Kudasai" is becoming Crimson's iconic Surprisingly Gentle Song, thanks to cover versions from Kurt Elling and k.d. lang, among other people. From Beat there's "Two Hands".
  • Textless Album Cover: In the Court of the Crimson King, In the Wake of Poseidon, Islands, and Larks' Tongues in Aspic.
    • Also, the ProjeKct Two albums Space Groove and Live Groove.
  • The Spartan Way: Bill Bruford's descriptions of what playing in King Crimson was like almost make the band sound like this.
    Bruford: In Yes, there was an endless debate about should it be F natural in the bass with G sharp on top by the organ. In King Crimson... you were just supposed to know.
    Bruford (on joining King Crimson): It was like going over the Berlin Wall... into East Germany.
  • Title Confusion: The last song on Red is titled "Starless" on the album cover, but Fripp sometimes announced it as "Starless and Bible Black" in concert. The reason for the shortened title apparently was that the previous album, Starless and Bible Black, contained an improvisation titled "Starless and Bible Black", which was completely different from the song "Starless". The confusion is understandable, given that "Starless" actually contains the lyrics "starless and bible black," whereas "Starless and Bible Black" does not (being an instrumental). Whew.
    • This was actually because Wetton wrote "Starless" as the title track for the previous album, but the rest of the band rejected it and went with the improvisation. For "Red," they brought the song back, but since the original title was already taken, they shortened it.
    • The band often had (private) parody titles for their LPs. Hence Braless and Slightly Slack, or Tree of a Perfect Pear.
    • They do this in their improvs as well; one is called "Sharks' Lungs in Lemsip".
  • Title Track: An unusual case, in that all but one of their studio albums have title tracks (and even the one that doesn't, Beat, has a song called "Heartbeat"). It appears that Robert Fripp finds the inclusion of a title track vitally important. The most amusing example of this is the album Starless and Bible Black—although they had begun writing a song whose chorus included the title phrase, it was eventually rejected from the album, and a live improv was just added in its place and titled "Starless and Bible Black". The originally intended title track made its way onto Red, where it was entitled just "Starless".
  • Trope Codifier: For Progressive Rock in general. Arguably also for some tendencies of the genre, such as Epic Rocking and Uncommon Time.
  • Twelve Bar Blues: Even King Crimson has written a twelve-bar blues, in an Uncommon Time, to boot. "Cat Food".
    • "Matte Kudasai" isn't twelve bars (it's five) but it's blues-inspired and has a shuffle feel.
  • Uncommon Time: All over the place. Possibly the Trope Codifier for this trend in Progressive Rock. Discipline really takes this Up to Eleven with some almost impossible-to-follow polyrhythms on tracks like "Frame by Frame", "Thela Hun Ginjeet" and "Discipline". It's probably not possible to express in concise terms just how mind-boggling the last of these gets, so have a Wikipedia article.
  • Word Puree Title: "Thela Hun Ginjeet", an anagram of "heat in the jungle".
  • Word Salad Lyrics: Some of their lyrics, especially the ones by Adrian Belew or Peter Sinfield (the latter may also be Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory).
  • Word Salad Title: "Sex Sleep Eat Drink Dream", "This Night Wounds Time", "The World's My Oyster Soup Kitchen Floor Wax Museum".

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