New Band of the Month: May – King Crimson

Every month this year, I’m dedicating myself to getting into a new band.  By ‘new band’, what I really mean is an old band who I’ve known of for awhile but have for one reason or another never checked out.  Maybe they were a genre I wasn’t into, maybe they were the favorite band of someone I didn’t like, maybe I was just lazy.  Whatever reason, I’m going to spend the month trying to get into them.

If, at the end of the month, I find myself enjoying the music I’ll buy an album.  And if not, I’ll save my money for something else.

My New Band for May is:

King Crimson

From the wiki page

King Crimson is a rock band founded in 1969 by members from Western England; since the 1980s, King Crimson’s new members have been Americans. Widely recognized as a foundational progressive rock group, the band have incorporated diverse influences and instrumentation during their history (including jazz and folk music, classical and experimental music, psychedelic rock, hard rock and heavy metal, new wave, gamelan, electronica and drum and bass). They have been influential on many contemporary musical artists and have gained a large following, despite garnering little radio or music video airplay.

My personal history with King Crimson:

As far as I know: Nada.  While I’ve likely heard some random song of theirs here or there, I think it’s pretty safe to say I wasn’t rocking out to any King Crimson on the radio as a kid.  Prog Rock is a weird beast.  The bands that can be labeled as such are both popular (Pink Floyd) and obscure (Faust, Can), and while they are generally considered highly influential acts, they also tend to be disparaged by music snobs (when The Decemberists went all rock opera on The Hazards of Love, one of the common criticisms was that they had given in to their Prog Rock tendencies).

In the Radiohead documentary (that I quote far too much), Meeting People Is Easy, one of the members of the band can be heard saying, “No, we all HATE progressive rock music.”  Yet, the influences of Can and Pink Floyd and other Prog acts are all over their music.  Maybe they were being ironic, but more than likely, it’s the quintessential response to Prog Rock: It’s ambitious and experimental, which are good traits, but the music can start to become off-putting when it becomes too ambitious and experimental.

At least, that’s the impression that I get, but I don’t really know because other than Can and Pink Floyd (who I don’t generally think of as Prog), I can’t say I’ve listened to much in the genre.  I could have picked Rush or Yes or one of a dozen other bands, but King Crimson is a name that gets dropped frequently in music circles and I’m interested in giving them a try.

So, here I go.  A four-decade-long career is going to be hard to digest in just a month.  Of course I won’t be able to touch on everything.  If there are any King Crimson fans out there who want to suggest songs/albums that I must listen to, please let me know in the comments.  And if you’re like me and have never given them a chance before, why not try them with me this month?

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