Chapter 21

Earthbound and Beyond

- chapter index -
page 1 - Earthbound
page 2 - Larks' Tongues in Aspic
page 3 - Starless and Bible Black
page 4 - Red

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If Larks' Tongues in Aspic is about the conflict between man and woman (Logos and Eros) and Starless and Bible Black addresses the basic antagonism between artistry and commercialism then Red seems to be primarily about stress, tension and the velocity of modern life. This last King Crimson album is a return to the beginning, 21st Century Schizoid Man.

With the gauge on the album's back cover all the way over into the red, the album begins on overload with Red, an aural assault, a high-speed futurist machine (our modern world) careening out of (human) control, crashing and burning.

After the crash, the fall, comes Fallen Angel, an urban vignette about gang activity. The song is a commentary on the drastic consequences of our depersonalized modern world. We are all fallen angels.

"Lifetimes spent on the streets of a city
Make us the people we are"

One More Red Nightmare returns to the plane crash motif. It's lyrics chronicle a particularly harrowing plane flight that turns out to have been nothing more than a dream on a bus ride. But again there is an angel involved.

"Reality stirred me
My angel had heard me"

And so side two begins with (divine) Providence an instrumental which seems to have been influenced by Bartok's String Quartet No. 3.

Béla Bartók, String Quartet No 3
performed by Kronos Quartet


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The last track is another return to the beginning, an alchemical opus containing the same sun symbolism introduced by Peter Sinfield in The Court of The Crimson King.

Sundown dazzling day
Gold through my eyes
But my eyes turned within only see
Starless and bible black

Splendor Solis image 19 The dark sun
Old friend charity
Cruel twisted smile
And the smile signals emptiness for me
Starless and bible black

Ice blue silver sky
Fades into grey
To a grey hope that all yearns to be
Starless and bible black

Starless consists of three movements. The first, with vocals, takes place at dusk ("sundown"). The second movement is the night and the third, punctuated by the magnificent horn section of McDonald and Collins, heralds the sunrise.

"The transition from 17.Moon to 18.Sun represents the alchemical Magnum Opus. The sea of 17.Moon is saturated with the alchemical salt, whose corrosiveness represents the Nigredo (Blackening), which reduces the soul to prime matter. The sun represents the alchemical Sulphur, the libido, the psychic life force, the generative and transformative power, and as the solar disk appears over the horizon we enter the Citrinitas (Yellowing), in which the prime matter is ennobled. When the sun reaches the zenith, the Rubedo (Reddening) is achieved, which is the highest state."

- The Pythagorean Tarot by John Opsopaus

Red turned out to be a reunion of King Crimson alumni and while Peter Sinfield was not physically present during the development of the album he continued to exert a profound influence on King Crimson, a band whose identity and purpose will forever be inextricably entwined with the artistic vision of Peter Sinfield.

"An alchemic fusion of all the facets of Crimson so far, drunk with electricity and played like there is no tomorrow."

- Antoine W. Caron

"Fripp, on RED, managed to synthesize every style he'd been working with since '69 into an extremely dynamic mix."

- Bill Nicholas

"...the album includes alumni from every other Crimson line-up, up to that point (eg., Ian McDonald from "In The Court...", Mel Collins from "Wake...", "Lizard", "Earthbound", Mark Charig from "Lizard", "Islands" and David Cross from "Starless..." and "Larks' Tongues..."). No wonder no Crimson has never sounded like this -- this Crimson line-up is really four line-ups at the same time (more or less, work with me here)! No band is ever going to sound like "Red"-period Crimson because no one will ever be able to duplicate that Uber-Crimson line-up."

- Peter Geddes

With the re-introduction of founding member Ian McDonald, the title of the final studio album, "Red", may have been meant to convey the notion that Fripp and co. had found…

"the Red Stone, also known as the Philosophers Stone or the Elixir. This (not only a physical substance but also a spiritual one) will transmute everything. Lead into Gold. Man into Superman. It is the alchemical Ascension, when everything will evolve into the highest possible state and the universe becomes truly complete."

- Alchemists By Anders Sandberg

Splendor Solis image 20 Sun rising over the city

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Earthbound and Beyond ~ Starless and Bible Black The World Became the World

Sign the Dreambook Dreambook Read the Dreambook

Chapter One The Metaphysical Record In The Court Of the Crimson King In The Wake Of Poseidon Lizard The King In Yellow The Sun King Eight
The Lake Which Mirrors the Sky In the Beginning Was the Word In the Beginning was the Word...side two Eros and Strife Dark Night of the Soul...Cirkus Dark Night of the Soul...Wilderness Big Top Islands
Islands Two Footnotes in the Sand Still Still 2
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