In The Court of The Crimson King

By Aidan Morales

Coming out of pop-filled London in the late 1960’s, “King Crimson” was forged by Robert Fripp, legendary singer Greg Lake, rock symphonist Ian McDonald and lyrical genius Peter Sinfield. Unknown to the members of the band, King Crimson would become the founder of progressive rock and a pioneer of the genre of rock itself. Inspiring artists such as Pink Floyd, Genesis and Yes, the band also provoked a musical opposition movement, punk. Progressive Rock defined and enriched the music culture of 1970’s Great Britain, crowning King Crimson as musical nobility forevermore. 

Before I dive into the album, a concept must be grasped by the reader. Free Time, which is a musical anti-meter, is defined by music that has no consistent beat and can mostly be attributed to improvisation. The album “In The Court of The Crimson King” begins with quickly introducing you to very harsh guitar and drums, playing in a chaotic manner, but somehow also in unison. After a minute of this, Greg Lake’s equally harsh vocals come into play, creating this very rough and militaristic mix of music. When I say harsh in this context, I am not by any means calling it bad. These attributes fit the theme; in fact, they form the theme. The theme is fully realized when you focus on the lyrics, painting an anti-imperialist and anti-militarist picture for the listener and having it aptly named “21st Century Schizoid Man,” which is most likely a reference to the mental health of veterans. Ending abruptly, the song then transitions into the peaceful song “I Talk To The Wind.” However, it is also easily a song of confusion and hopelessness. Greg Lake sings in a manner of softness and airy-ness that makes it seems like the words are in fact being carried away by the wind, which compliment the lyrics and calm instrumental in the background. The trend of free-time progressive rock ends temporarily, with “Epitaph.” In a bleak ballad, Epitaph presents us with a new style – an amazing combination of a ballad and the progressive rock that Pink Floyd fans have come to love.  While easily my favorite track in this album, it is very underrated in terms of the rest of the songs. As the ballad of sorrow fades away, a new song fades in. This would be “Moon Child,” an amalgamation of cryptic lyrics and free-time improvisation. This song is good, but is definitely a transitory piece for me, as not much of it is memorable. Finally, in terms of the album and this article, we arrive “In The Court of The Crimson King.” My second favorite, this song absolutely defines the musical talent and legacy of the entire band and will forever do so. This song defined progressive rock and cemented it in history as a genre that was unable to be confined by either a time signature or by genre. This song was the blueprint. Guitar solos, strong vocals and random intervals of improvisation; it was a defining moment in rock history.