Daily Dose: ’21st Century Schizoid Man’ by King Crimson

Let’s take a look at the world King Crimson described in 1969, on groundbreaking progressive rock album In the Court of the Crimson King, and then compare with it the world now. Some similarities, aren’t there? Prescience is a curse, not a gift, remember. What is a gift is Robert Fripp’s utterly transcendent guitar playing, which takes something a back seat in this record to the styling of Greg Lake (bass and vocals) and Ian Mcdonald (I’m not even sure what he’s playing, I think it’s an alto sax?), who both play on this record, have some form with other bands that you might be familiar with. These 70’s and 80’s musicians, all in and out of each other’s bands, with each other’s TV’s. The drums of Michael Giles are also like a small contained apocalypse here, which deserved special mention if you like a real world ending feel in your music. In fact, earth-rending is really the best way I can think of to describe this album; the world is but chaos, and we are all tiny fragments of that chaos, and this song encapsulates that thought better than nearly any I’ve heard. Its 7 minutes of progressive-jazz-metal, back before such a thing was considered cool or edgy, and the result is something that actually sounds genuine in its insanity as possible, unlike many of its imitators. You can’t imitate this, its panicked screeching taken to a whole new level and then put in music form. It might not always be pleasant to listen to, but if you hit that right mood, one of near-reckless euphoria and irreverence, it really does hit the spot. Then the main riff kicks back in, and the madness becomes focused again, into that one refrain that everyone knows (but probably no-one knows what on earth it means). Oh, it was also on a Kanye West song that one time (it’s not as good). Since we appear to be in Jazz week, there might be some more on the horizon.

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