King Crimson 1997-2008: Heaven and Earth (And Beyond)

Just announced at Discipline Global Mobile:

The latest in the acclaimed series of King Crimson boxed sets is now available for pre-order. Heaven and Earth is a 24 disc – 18 x CD, 4 x Blu-Ray and 2 x DVD-A – set and represents the most comprehensive collection in the series to date and covers the period from December 1997 to August 2008.

The box, to be released on May 31st, will include:

A comprehensive look at Crimson’s experimental ProjeKcts (1, 2, 3, 4, 6 & X): 1 CD each of ProjeKcts 1, 2, 3 and 4; every single concert by every ProjeKct plus all studio albums and other releases on 2 Blu-Rays!  This was an incredibly rich period — more “research and development” than anything else — with sundry configurations of Crims improvising like mad onstage, spraying sonic fireworks in all directions as they devised and refined new material.  What I’ve heard from this era is utterly thrilling, and this material should be worth the hefty price of the box all by itself.

A re-imagining of 2000’s The ConstruKction of Light, on CD, DVD & Blu-Ray.  To quote the press release, “The loss of the original recordings of the electronic drums allowed Pat Mastelotto to completely rerecord the material on his current acoustic/electric kit making for a virtually completely new album of familiar material,” remixed by Don Gunn.  On DVD: the remix, a 5.1 surround mix, the original mix in hi-res stereo and ProjeKct X’s Heaven and Earth.  On Blu-Ray: all of the above plus over 10 hours of live video from the 2000 European tour, audio of the 2000 London show (released on video as part of Eyes Wide Open), the Level 5 mini-album and more.  On additional CDs: live concerts from the 2000 and 2001 tours.

An extended/enhanced edition of 2003’s The Power to Believe, remixed by David Singleton.  On DVD: the remix, a 5.1 surround mix, the original mix in hi-res stereo and the Happy With What You Have to Be Happy With mini-album.  On Blu-Ray: all of the above plus the live Elektrik album and more.  On additional CDs: live concerts from the 2003 tour.

To top it all off, two live CDs of the short-lived 2008 quintet Crimson (which introduced Gavin Harrison to the line-up), recorded in concert in New York.

Quite frankly, what’s included on Heaven and Earth is beyond my wildest dreams — it should keep me in Crimson hog-heaven at least until I see their 50th anniversary tour in September.  If it sounds like too much at one go for you, the 40th Anniversary Editions of The ReconstruKction of Light and The Power to Believe (including the relevant CDs and DVDs listed above) are available separately, to be released on the same date.   Pre-orders for all these releases are live now at Inner Knot for the US and Burning Shed for the rest of the world.

— Rick Krueger

2 thoughts on “King Crimson 1997-2008: Heaven and Earth (And Beyond)

  1. Mike

    What is it about King Crimson? I grew up being a big fan of Yes, ELP, Genesis, Jethro Tull, Rush, Kansas, and lots of classical music (Beethoven, Mozart) and never could get into the KC. To me it always sounded like free-form jazz. If someone could explain their appeal, I would love to understand. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. kruekutt

      Actually, I think “it always sounded like free-form jazz” hits the nail on the road. Which is one reason I love Crimson, but also admit it’s not for everybody. KC has always cultivated the abrasive, aggressive, and angular — not to mention the dissonant. I think that, of the bands you mention, ELP & Tull are probably the closest in sound — but there’s definitely a heavy metal edge to King Crimson, like Black Sabbath with more uptempo riffs and flashier chops, that even those groups didn’t cultivate.

      Robert Fripp has been quoted as saying that early Crimson was meant to answer the question: “What would Hendrix sound like playing Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring or the Bartok string quartets?” So definitely not much Beethoven, Mozart, Beatles or Byrds in the mix. My first exposure to The Court of the Crimson King was via a kid I was carpooling to school with; I remember thinking “Hmmm … sounds like the Moody Blues, but a LOT doomier.”

      The early 1970s with John Wetton & Bill Bruford are very much as you suggest: less Mellotron and melody, more improvs and dissonance. With the exception of a few ballads like “Exiles” and “Starless” — and even those are pretty gloomy, lyrically & musically

      The 1980s with Adrian Belew, Tony Levin & Bruford feature generally lighter textures with little or no distortion. But the music was stlll very gnarly: cyclical guitar riffs of different lengths phasing in and out with each other; Belew’s noise-maker guitar interjections & David Byrne-style vocals; Levin & Bruford’s world music polyrhythms.

      From THRAK on, whoever made up Crimson kinda did all of the above all at once. Part of the fun of the Heaven & Earth box set for me will be hearing everything AND the kitchen sink gradually turn into the tunes on The ReConstruKction of Light & The Power To Believe — the latter of which is one of my favorite Crim albums, right up there with Court, Red and Beat. On top of all this, I deeply admire Robert Fripp’s stubborn determination in chasing the muse he hears over the decades, and being unwilling to settle for anything less than the best he & his fellow Crims can come up with.

      So, actually, I think you’ve got KC pegged. And if they’re not your thing, that’s cool. But I hope I’ve at least been able to shed some light on my love for the band.

      Like

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