Sunday, July 18, 2004
Puts 'n Loops
Then again, she went and shot her mouth off. Quoth Martha to Baba Wawa:
When asked how she would handle prison food, fellow inmates and strip searches, she said, "I could do it I'm a really good camper. I can sleep on the ground. If it is looming ahead of me, I'm going to have to face it, and take it and do it and get it over with. And there's many other people that have gone to prison. Look at Nelson Mandela."I am not a fan of Mandela in any manner, shape or form. One thing that people conveniently forget about Mandela is how literally the moment he was released he was singing hosannas to the Communists who supported him (and of course specifically ignoring all the "useful idiots" in the West who were agitating for him). I recall one name he specifically mentioned was an old-line South African commie named Joe Slovo who somehow wangled an appearance on 60 Minutes to propagandize for Mandela. And old Nelson is a good friend and admirer of my least favorite Husseini cousin. However, for too many people (including most unfortunately my own clergyman, a situation that distresses me), Mandela is an icon of sorts of freedom (thankfully I have a sense of irony, otherwise you'd be hearing noises like "gaak" and "hoctui" at this point) and it might seem a touch sacrilegious to compare a doyenne of party giving to a figure that did cause a revolution. So courtesy of one of the lunatics over on Fark, let's zing the lady, shall we?
Can anyone actually say they get King Crimson? The genesis of this rhetorical question comes from one of those six degrees things that defines my thought processes. I'm a fan of Phil Keaggy, most unusual for someone of my pedigree, but I became interested after reading a Guitar Player interview way back when, then got into Glass Harp, and some of his solo stuff. His instrumental albums are really great stuff, and while I'm not a fan theologically speaking, his vocal stuff in many cases is fun and certainly is a heck of lot more positive than most crap that's out there. My friend John invited me to go see Keaggy at a church, and it was a great concert, just him solo with some delay lines for doing some unbelievable things with looping (PK also did a couple of great covers of Beatles songs that night; some of the church folk were a bit puzzled at that, but PK is a great Beatles fan, and actually gave an Olson guitar to Paul McCartney). PK's coming out with a DVD in a couple of weeks, after a long wait, and I've really been looking forward to sharing the show with my guitar playing friends to see how this awesome player jams.
The looping is where the connection to King Crimson comes in. As a guitar player, I've messed around a tiny bit with looping; just trying to do that great little piece in Queen's "Brighton Rock" where Brian May layers the harmonies (set your delay to 750 or 800ms. and 3 repeats if you want to try). I've gotten a fairly good result, but sometimes you see players who do things with loops that just blow your mind. On his instructional tape from the mid-80's, Keaggy did an awesome version of "Amazing Grace " with his delay and an EBow, and every time I watch that, my jaw drops. There's a web site out there for guitar players who are interested in looping, and looking at some of the other players listed on there, one Robert Fripp came up. Sure enough, I dug out the first King Crimson album (with 21st Century Schizoid Man) and gave it a spin, interesting prog-rock relic, but no looping. Seeing as how my curiosity had been whetted, I took a look on eBay and Amazon, and came up with the Eyes Wide Open DVD. I decided to take a flyer on it and purchased it. It looked interesting enough, bass player was playing a Chapman Stick (one of those things like an EBow that every guitar player is interested in checking out, if not making it part of one's shtick), and the other guitar player was Adrian Belew, subject of countless articles in the guitar press.
I couldn't make head or tail out of the music on Eyes Wide Open. My wife came in, watched for about a minute, and left with a scowling face. Fripp was doing some interesting things with volume swells and looping, but there wasn't anything there that was grabbing me. As talented as Adrian Belew is, the stuff he was playing bordered on the cacophonous. There were no hooks in the music, you see. Phil Spector may be one crazy mofo, but he did have it right, the song has to have a great hook. Lots of interesting stuff there from a technician's point of view, but I found it to be totally soulless.
The interesting thing about this here is that while Fripp has apparently left all traces of the original King Crimson vision far behind, but Peter Sinfield, who probably had a heavier visionary role in the original "In The Court Of The Crimson King" and "Lark's Tongue In Aspic" has formed an outfit called the "21st Century Schizoid Band", which plays the mellotron-laden songs from the original outfit (there's an interesting video on their site of a flute bit from "Court" which absolutely nails it; it was a similar vibe to watching the Brian Wilson DVD of "Pet Sounds"). They've got a DVD available, I'm somewhat tempted.....