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Awesome Music / King Crimson

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King Crimson, just about the most influential and acclaimed prog rock band other than Pink Floyd. Most of their songs fit the crowning moment easily.

  • Anything played in In the Court of the Crimson King is made of progressive rock beauty.
    • "21st Century Schizoid Man" is a real rock 'n' rollercoaster, from the weighty sax and guitar riff that opens the song proper (after the disorienting 20-second intro), to Greg Lake's punchy, distorted rendition of the lyrics, through the epic instrumental interlude led by Robert Fripp on guitar and Ian McDonald on saxophone that separates the last two verses, to the final chaotic, shrieking buildup that cuts off suddenly... and then begins again, getting still louder, only to cut off into silence again. A great track for the band to announce themselves to the listening world.
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    • "I Talk to the Wind" could be a Trope Codifier for Mood Whiplash and Breather Episode. Coming right off the heels of "Schizoid Man", it's one of the most jarring transitions in music history, and undoubtedly did a lot to convince audiences of the time how versatile progressive rock could be. Today it holds up as one of the band's prettiest compositions.
    • The solemn "Epitaph" features another parade of instrumental wizardry from each member of the band, especially Robert Fripp on guitar and Ian McDonald on mellotron, as well as a great lead vocal from Greg Lake.
    • The (almost) title track, "The Court of the Crimson King". There's Greg Lake's soulful rendition of Pete Sinfield's enigmatic lyrics, and the twin tours de force for Ian McDonald that are the energetic mellotron solo and virtuosic flute solo that come between the later verses... and just when the song seems to have ended, Michael Giles' cymbals play on, quietly, until the song appears to begin again, transposed up a whole tone, only to cut off into silence after a few iterations of the opening riff.
  • In the Wake of Poseidon often gets accused of being a retread of the band's first album, as many of the major pieces have counterparts on the previous album, but it has its moments.
    • "Pictures of a City" is like a more melodic version of "21st Century Schizoid Man", and its instrumental section is every bit as entertaining as the instrumental break of the earlier song.
    • "In the Wake of Poseidon" is effectively the counterpart to "Epitaph" from the previous album, but it has the epic scope suggested by the mythological figure who gives it its name. The melodies are gorgeous and it demonstrates one of the finest uses of a Mellotron in progressive rock.
    • "The Devil's Triangle" is one of the major pieces without a counterpart on the previous album. It's a lengthy instrumental inspired by Gustav Holst's "Mars, the Bringer of War", and it is terrifying.
  • Lizard:
    • "Cirkus" provides a suitably ominous opening to the album. It begins with one of the most dissonant melodies the group ever composed (rather reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix' "Purple Haze") before resolving to a minor key. The effect is more or less heartbreaking.
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    • The whole 23 minute epic "Lizard" is awesome, but the epic, ominous section "The Battle of Glass Tears" stands out.
  • "Islands" from the album of the same name is one of their most gorgeous tracks, with lush and calming instrumental sounds mixed in with the gorgeous voice of Boz Burrell. A truly great song on what is generally seen as one of their lesser efforts.
  • The 4-part, 40-minute epic "Larks' Tongues in Aspic" is so awesome it took three albums and 27 years to unfold, with Parts I and II on 1973's Larks' Tongues in Aspic, Part III on 1984's Three of a Perfect Pair, and the trifecta that is Part IV on 2000's The ConstruKction of Light. In particular, the second part with its Epic Riff sounds like a Trope Codifier or Ur-Example for Progressive Metal (and has indeed been covered by many prog metal acts).
  • Starless and Bible Black:
    • The live improvisation "Trio" is utterly gorgeous, and it's difficult from listening to it to believe it was improvised. Bill Bruford's decision not to play on it was credited by the other band members as having a significant impact on the direction of the piece, and he received a composition co-credit for contributing what the band labelled "admirable restraint".
    • The title track, "Starless and Bible Black", is a masterpiece of melancholic distortion and grade A Nightmare Fuel.
    • "Fracture", which was described by Fripp as the hardest guitar piece he's ever played and is every bit as epic as one would expect from that description.
  • There isn't a single song on Red that doesn't qualify as Awesome Music:
    • The absurdly epic instrumental "Red". Kurt Cobain cited it as a major influence, believe it or not.
    • "Fallen Angel" is another in the group's long line of Tear Jerkers. That chorus in particular is heartbreaking, and fits the song's theme of urban violence nicely.
    • "One More Red Nightmare" is a contender for best drum track of all time, and is Exhibit A in the Bruford vs. Peart argument. Bruford played "One More Red Nightmare" on a beat up cymbal he found in the trash, which explains its thoroughly unique sound.
    • "Providence", which starts off sounding like a horror movie soundtrack before going out into a full blown rocker.
    • "Starless", surely a trope codifier for Epic Rocking. It starts as a subtle and melancholy Power Ballad in 4/4, then it changes into a long, quiet, ominous middle section in a different key and Uncommon Time (13/8, to be precise) with a very minimal guitar part and increasingly edgy drums, then it gets louder and louder until it bursts into crazed sax and guitar solos, still in 13/8 but played much faster, and just when things can't get any more frantic there's a Last Chorus Slow-Down which coincides with a return to the home key of G minor and Common Time, and the original Power Ballad melody returns for just one cycle with everyone playing incredibly loudly - and then it ends.
  • Discipline:
    • "Indiscipline" has got to be the best of their "weird" tracks, and the story behind the insane percussion section is prog rock legend. Bill Bruford played the entire album except for that song on a drum kit with no cymbals as part of a dare from Robert Fripp. He was allowed to cut loose on just one song: "Indiscipline". The results are amazing.
    • "Discipline" qualifies as Awesome Music too. The band decided to write a piece where the two lead guitars were rarely playing in the same time signature, and where none of the instruments (except the drums, in a constant 17/16 with a 4/4 bass drum polyrhythm) kept the same time signature for long. It is one of the finest examples of Uncommon Time in music history, and has to be heard to be believed.
    • The band has only performed on American television once, on the sketch comedy program Fridays in 1981. However, the footage of them performing "Elephant Talk" and "Thela Hun Gunjeet" is nothing short of incredible.
  • "Heartbeat" from Beat shows that even King Crimson weren't afraid of doing a pop song in the 80s and results are awesome.
  • Three of a Perfect Pair:
    • "Sleepless" may be Paranoia Fuel, but it counts as this too - that damned awesome, epic bassline is what really clinches it.
    • From the Eighties era, there's "Dig Me", with Adrian Belew delivering a delightfully freaky monologue as a car about to be crushed into a cube, capped off with a lovely chorus.
  • "Dinosaur" off of Thrak is an underrated gem of a song, filled with complex melodies and compositions. It's a sad piece, but gorgeous, fully capturing the feeling of growing older and regretting all of your mistakes and flaws. It's packed with raw emotion, and is one of the most intense songs ever made.note 


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