Mos Generator Bring Together Mahavishnu Orchestra and King Crimson on “The Dance of Red”

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 19th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

mos generator

“The Dance of Red” is fresh off the tape deck at HeavyHead Studio. As in “Recorded and mixed in June 2017” fresh off the tape deck. The new single from Port Orchard, Washington, heavy rock specialists Mos Generator was recorded — like everything they do — by guitarist/vocalist Tony Reed. Together with bassist Sean Booth and drummer Jono Garrett, Reed has started the recording process for what will become the follow-up to the band’s last proper long-player, 2016’s Abyssinia (review here), which is set to release early next year on Listenable Records.

I guess while the three-piece had about five minutes of downtime during the tracking process, they decided to work out covers of “Red” by King Crimson and “The Dance of Maya” by Mahavishnu Orchestra. Fair enough for the band at this point — between the hardcore punk of Lies of Liberty (review here) and the proggy fluidity that surfaced near the end of Abyssinia and on the subsequent The Firmament live-in-studio offering, there’s little that’s out of their sonic wheelhouse.

The tracks are streaming now, and set up as a kind of medley. You can listen at the bottom of this post and see some comment from Reed below on how it all came together:

Mos Generator – The Dance of Red

A few months back I made an edit combining The Dance of Maya by The Mahavishnu Orchestra and Red by King Crimson for the guys to review and learn so we could possibly play it live. Both sections are dramatically abridged to try and keep the piece at around 5 minutes. Each half had their own set of challenges. Jono spent a bit of time working on playing around the 10/8 timing of the first section and Fripp always has these oddball chords that need to be deciphered but with a little time spent running it down I think we ended with a nice interpretation of two of my favorite progressive rock songs. TR – June 2017

Mos Generator – The Dance of Red
a) The Dance of Maya (abridged) 2:27
b) Red (abridged) 2:31

Mos Generator is:
Tony Reed: Guitar and Mellotron
Jono Garrett: Drums
Sean Booth: Bass

Recorded and Mixed by Reed at HeavyHead Recording Co. June 2017

https://mosgenerator.bandcamp.com/track/the-dance-of-red-a-the-dance-of-maya-b-red
https://www.facebook.com/MosGenerator
http://heavyheadsuperstore.storenvy.com/
http://www.shop-listenable.net/fr/47_mos-generator

Mos Generator, The Dance of Red (2017)

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Friday Full-Length: King Crimson, In the Court of the Crimson King

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 28th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

King Crimson, In the Court of the Crimson King (1969)

An observation by King Crimson, and a brilliant one at that. The first time I heard King Crimson‘s 1969 debut, In the Court of the Crimson King was on the flight home from my honeymoon. I was 23, and while by some standards that was late to encounter the record, it’s a setting I wouldn’t have traded a decade for, returning from my first time out of the country, The Patient Mrs. sitting next to me as I loaded the disc into the bulky CD player I’d continue to use for years afterwards — 23-year-old me is a little disappointed every time 33-year-old me plays a song on my phone — the swells of the closing semi-title-track “Court of the Crimson King” matching the puffy whites and greys of clouds outside the aircraft window. It’s an association I’ll always have with the first King Crimson record, and that may well be part of why I consider it among the best albums I’ve ever heard, but sentiment aside, I think even the most objective observer would have to be taken aback by just how much ground the UK band — the lineup of Robert Fripp (guitar), Michael Giles (drums, backing vocals, percussion), Greg Lake (vocals, bass), and Ian McDonald (flute, clarinet, sax, keys, harisichord, piano, vibraphone, backing vocals, etc.) — were able to break on their debut release. Out through Island Records in the UK and Atlantic in the US for its original pressing, its 44 minutes continue to serve as a blueprint for the founding consciousness that typifies nearly every strain of progressive rock. It’s the higher consciousness that all those acid-heads were trying to attain.

King Crimson are probably more known for 1974’s Red, or their 1981 post-hiatus return, Discipline, which in many ways set the tone for everything that followed it, but In the Court of the Crimson King makes for an even more striking listen because it’s as much about its melodies as its experimentalism. From the jagged insistence of “21st Century Schizoid Man” — a landmark in itself and a defining moment for the band — through the closer’s spacious roll and minimalist interplay, King Crimson were beyond just freaking out. Every texture in the mellotron-infused “Moonchild,” and every pseudo-militaristic drum stop in “Epitaph” has its companion sense of melody, and the work as a whole is as gorgeous as it is complex. The dreamy wisps of “I Talk to the Wind” are much stronger for it, and while King Crimson would ultimately become more of a show of technicality and genre-defining progressive rhythms under various lineups incorporating the likes of guitarist/vocalist Adrian Belew, bassist Tony Levin and drummer Bill Bruford — nothing against that band, those players or anyone else who might have “I played ‘x’ in King Crimson” on their resumé — this earliest incarnation of the group was unafraid to complement all that distinguishing class with simple sweetness, and that was something that they’d never quite do in the same way again. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, listen to the early part of “Moonchild.”

Of course, that’s not to belittle the band’s subsequent accomplishments or what Greg Lake would go on to do with Emerson, Lake and Palmer, or what Fripp continues to do with the modern version of King Crimson — which if I recall correctly featured no fewer than three drummers on their most recent US tour; I was sorry I missed it — just to highlight the fact that In the Court of the Crimson King is something special and it was a shortlived moment in the band’s ultimate trajectory. I can’t imagine this post is anyone’s first time hearing it, but if it is or if you’re just revisiting, fair enough. I can’t imagine this version posted on YouTube will be there all that long before it gets taken down, so if nothing else, consider this a recommendation to take your copy off the shelf — CD, vinyl, whatever it might be — and give it another look, or if you don’t have a copy, to get one. It’s one of those records that goes a long way toward making a house into a home.

Either way, enjoy.

I’ve been thinking this week about the idea of curating. Announcing that I’m putting together that all-dayer for next August in Brooklyn has got me thinking about the various ways in which we curate our existence, the choices we make, the little things we do every day. My conclusion? I’m way fucking in favor. You know what the tradeoff is for all the privacy we’ve thrown out the window in the last two decades, all the data we’ve let be gathered and sold back to us, all the compromises we’ve made on our relationships to media and the relentlessly-cloying-yet-somehow-also-all-controlling corporatocracy in which we live? The tradeoff is the “I don’t want to see this” button.

It’s not quite my favorite thing in the world, but it’s definitely on the list. Imagine a real-life bullshit detector. I used to abhor willful ignorance, as though everyone should make an effort to expose themselves to everything, all the time — the least realistic of expectations. Our brains would explode. Fuck that shit. Life is short, and yeah, you should get out and see the world, but when you come across something you just know is garbage, “I don’t want to see this” comes in real, real handy.

The Patient Mrs. asks me all the time if I’ve seen this or that floating around, the latest horrific thing some Republican candidate said or did. There was a time where the answer would be yes, but now? Not a chance. I barely even pay attention to mass shootings, suicide bombings, war, greed, corruption, etc., anymore. Not when there are show flyers to check out! Is my being interminably beaten down by the needless cruelties we perpetrate on each other going to fix them? Nope. Am I improving myself by being upset by these things? Nope. Okay then.

I’m not saying compassion has no value — unless we’re measuring in terms of pure real-world productivity, which in most cases it does indeed have no value — or that the news isn’t worth keeping up with, but I’m saying that, like the news organizations, we’re fortunate to live in an age in which we’re also able to engage in what media studies calls “agenda setting.” I don’t know what Donald Trump said about Mexican immigrants. I don’t know how many people were blown up today in Baghdad. I do know Baroness have a new album coming out, and I know that the new Graveyard record kicks ass. And I’m perfectly okay with that balance. My agenda has been set.

Perhaps complemented by the revelation of a somewhat troubling tendency to gravitate toward ’90s television (Star Trek spinoffs, MST3K, etc.) and videogames, being able to curate my own life has proven a massive win, and it’s made me more conscious (again, for better and worse) of my decisions and habits, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. The rest? Well, I don’t know about it, because I choose not to know. Other people can fret over the fact that nobody’s willing to do anything about climate change, that people on the internet say, write and do stupid, racist, sexist shit, and so on. Other people can protest wars like that’s ever going to stop them. It’s not like meaningful debate is a thing that exists or anyone’s interested in having. So yeah, beat your head against the wall of someone else’s dumbassery. Let me know how many years that adds to your life.

Next week, stay tuned for a Funeral Horse track stream, an initial announcement from Desertfest, reviews of Thera Roya and Uncle Acid and an interview with Monster Magnet‘s frontman, the inimitable Dave Wyndorf. There’s copious news already to go up on Monday about a new record from Saviours and the Melvins‘ next European tour, and I hear there’s an announcement coming from the Borderland Fuzz Fiesta as well, so stay tuned. Much goodness en route.

And if this site is one of the things to which you choose to expose yourself on a regular basis, please know you have my thanks and best wishes.

Great and safe weekend. Please check out the forum and radio stream.

The Obelisk Forum

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Live Review: Adrian Belew in Jersey, 06.30.10

Posted in Reviews on July 2nd, 2010 by JJ Koczan

I wasn’t initially going to write a review of the Adrian Belew show I saw the other night at Mexicali Live in Teaneck, NJ (that’s right — a real live music venue I didn’t have to drive to Brooklyn to get to! I didn’t think they existed either), but after talking with The Patient Mrs. sharing some thoughts didn’t seem so out of line. Take it or leave it.

First and foremost, if you don’t know who Adrian Belew is, he’s been playing guitar in King Crimson since the band got back together in 1981, and before that he’d worked with David Bowie and Frank Zappa. He’s also has a more than considerable solo discography. Basically, he’s a genius with a guitar. The name of this tour was “Painting with Guitar,” and Belew was joined on stage by four of his own paintings, a new Yamaha Tenori-on, and a laptop. So yeah, you could call it a one-man show.

He played some Crimson material, “Three of a Perfect Pair” and “The Power to Believe” (unless I’m mistaken), as well as some new, mostly instrumental pieces and a song from his band The Bears, launching at one point into the sitar line from The Beatles‘ “Love You To,” much to the delight of the few who recognized it. In between he stopped to take questions from the nearly all-male audience — hippies and prog nerds of various shapes, sizes, ages and hairlines — which not only served as a welcome break from the overwhelming complexity of the music he was playing, but an education on his equipment, methods and history. He told a story about living with Frank Zappa that I’m sure has been recounted at least 700 times before, but it was entertaining nonetheless.

One of the chief complaints with technical prog (a category Belew might offset being included in by reminding as he did several times from the stage that he can’t read music) is that the music has no soul. Watching Adrian Belew play with an ear-to-ear grin on his face as though he was continually astonished by just how neat the noises he can make with his guitar are, I firmly believe that those crazy loops and mathematically impossible time signatures are just the sounds his soul makes. He displayed every ounce the passion I’ve ever seen anyone play with, and he did it while mopping the floor with damn near the whole planet’s technique. It was something to watch.

Alas, the early show, over by about 9:30PM. Belew wound up taking three Q&A breaks through the set, most of one being dedicated to explaining why his new signature Parker guitar was pretty much the best thing ever, and closed with a long instrumental piece originally written for The Adrian Belew Power Trio, with whom he regularly tours. All in the span of maybe an hour, maybe a little more. And even as he discussed a conversation he’d recently had with Robert Fripp about reforming King Crimson next year for the 30th anniversary of the 1981 lineup, his love of the music came through clearly and honestly, and it was incredible to see and understand that there is a being out there capable of not only achieving that love but of maintaining it across a career spanning more than four decades. I left Mexicali Live smiling and don’t think I could have otherwise even if I’d wanted to.

Note: The song in the video below is called “Europe by Rail,” and it was written using the Tenori-on as a drum machine.

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