King Crimson, “Starless”, Red

Soothing yet foreboding Mellotron strings start the song. There’s a deep sense of sorrow pervading both the lyrics and Wetton’s reading, while saxophone adds forlorn ambience. Then Starless takes a detour. A minimalist arrangement initially features only Fripp’s guitar and Wetton’s fuzz bass. Haunted-house guitar figures and splashes of percussion fade in adding to the tension. Sounding unlike little that has come before it, Starless gets scarier and scarier: something’s coming…. An angular bass playing keeps things moving toward the horrifying denouement. After 4 minutes of building, the tension is nearly unbearable. Then the piece explodes with ferocity into a jazz-influenced maelstrom featuring free-form soloing. In the thunderous coda the earth-shattering bass underpinning the melody rushes into a crumbled swoon.

  • “King Crimson: Red”, Joe Banks
  • “King Crimson: Red”, Bill Kopp’s music magazine