Red by King Crimson
I've recently been checking out King Crimson in an effort to show love to some albums I've had for a while, but didn't give a proper listen.
Red is weird (just like KC), but there are some pretty spectacular things going on here.
The album-titled opening track is a heavy prog instrumental that is repetitive in nature, but I can't not listen to it all the way through. It's no secret that these guys can play, and in a weird way, this song illustrates it. There aren't any face-melting guitar solos or massive drum solos, but the mastery of tension and release combined with some shifting time signatures and off-the-wall tonalities makes this song both haunting and beautiful.
Next up is "Fallen Angel." This is the first of two ballads on this album. I use the term ballad loosely with this track. The content ain't exactly lovey-dovey or heartbroken so don't expect to be reminded of Rod Stewart. The driving rhythmic ostinato gives it plenty of momentum along with some crazy trumpet, oboe, and sax solos.
Third is my favorite from this one, entitled "One More Red Nightmare." Right out the gate, this one has early prog rock written all over it. Think Jimi meets Cream. Psychodelic guitar riffs mixed with psychodelic lyrics with a dash of craziness from Bruford gives way to a cool sax/guitar jam not once but twice! Dig it.
Next is "Providence." Not really sure what to make of this one. It sounds like a single and/or live take of David Cross having quite a time with his violin. There are moments when I feel like I'm about to hear a full orchestra come in to accompany and others where I'm fairly certain I'm listening to the soundtrack for The Black Swan...
The album's final track, "Starless," is a much more 'normal' ballad in the fact that it is more somber and slow in nature... at least at first. For a 12-minute tune, there are only three real verses so you know there's going to be plenty of instrumental work coming. Once again there's plenty of sax to be heard along with some atonal nonsense from Robert Fripp on guitar and I think David Cross on violin. Just like the opening track, this one is weird and at times hard to follow, but I can't not listen. It's too unlike anything I've ever heard.
Overall this is a pretty awesome album from one of the first really progressive rock bands. Side note: this album was finished as the group was disbanding, which to me makes it even more impressive that it came off so strongly. If you want to hear some rock that is unlike anything else you've laid ears on, check out Red.