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King Crimson: In the Court of the Crimson King

King Crimson: In the Court of the Crimson King

Panegyric  KCSP1

Stereo/Multichannel

Pop/Rock


King Crimson


The classic album has been mixed for 5.1 Surround Sound from the original studio masters by Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree), with Crimson founder Robert Fripp acting as executive producer.

Additionally Steven Wilson & Robert Fripp have collaborated to produce a completely new stereo mix drawn directly from the original multitrack tapes.

CD features 5 additional tracks drawn from the original recording sessions ? a complete version of Moonchild (edited on the new stereo mix) ? a flute/guitar duet of I Talk to the Wind, an alternate mix of I Talk to the Wind, the full Epitaph backing track & the session recording of the "wind" noises used to introduce the album at the start of 21st Century Schizoid Man.

DVD-A features 10 additional tracks drawn from the original recording sessions, including a complete alternate version of the album using instrumental & vocal takes - All previously unreleased and in Lossless Audio & High Resolution stereo.

Features short performance footage of classic Hyde Park performance of 21st Century Schizoid Man with original audio from the show.

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Review by Rick Kosmick - December 30, 2015

King Crimson’s debut release in 1969, “In the Court of the Crimson King”, would go on to become a classic in the genre of progressive rock. It is comprised of 5 songs structured with complex instrumental changes and intricate musical passages. This rock music included elements of jazz and classical with orchestral sounds created by overdubbing from the mellotron and various woodwind instruments. It is often referred to as a masterpiece in the annals of rock music.

It was not until 2003 that the lost first generation master tapes were finally discovered in storage. Originally recorded on 8 multi-track tape, these source tapes are the basis of Steven Wilson’s 2009 remix in high resolution DVD Audio. And “In the Court of the Crimson King ” succumbs to the mixing magic of Mr. Wilson that reveals the majesty of these great recordings with striking fidelity in the expanded dimensions of 5.1 surround MLP Lossless in 48K 24Bit. Although a MLP Lossless Stereo mix in 96K 24Bit is included, this review refers only to the 5.1 mix.

When I hear a Steven Wilson surround mix, certain things come to mind in his fundamental approach. The main part of the mix comes from the front channels for main or dominant instruments with lead vocals usually placed in the centre channel. This approach maintains the integrity of the original recordings as placement of instruments and vocals (phantom centre) remains faithful as recorded for the original stereo mix. He may momentarily place guitars or drums in the rears but only for effect….. they never dominate. He creates discreet use in rear channels dictated by 'balance' and 'immersion' in the soundfield. There is always movement of sound between all 5 channels with excellent separation and clarity between front and rear channels. The spatial qualities are all about balance and full range of the sound parameters.

As an example of Wilson’s mixing approach, the opening track “21st Century Schizoid Man” is mainly an abrasive sound with distorted vocals from Gregg Lake (centre channel) and guitar tension (with some distortion) from Robert Fripp. It is the sound of paranoia as the stark contrast from Fripp’s guitar, although mainly coming from the front, includes his solo mid-song which is placed in the rears but balanced against Michael Giles power drumming coming from the front. And Giles drums are frequently pushed to the rears (but gently) as this sound runs along the periphery of the listening room.

After this initial assault on the aural senses, the second track “I Talk to The Wind” is a major change of pace with a touching ballad and wonderful melody. The flute work from Ian McDonald is the dominant instrument as it starts this song and continues with delicate textures as it maintains the lead presence with solos, mainly from the front (subtly drifts occasionally to the rears), that perpetuate in light, airy tones moving effectively around Greg Lake's lead vocals.

“Epitaph” is the song I look to as a high-water mark with it's majestic sound and orchestral arrangement created by Ian McDonald’s work on the mellotron as the foundation. Greg Lake's vocals are superb and come across with crystal clarity. Robert Fripp’s acoustic guitar strings are caught with reverberations in studio-like quality. Michael Giles drums are punchy as they form an exterior perimeter in moving between the front and rear channels. Needless to say, Steve Wilson creates this beautiful aural experience of 360° audio as the sound moves seemlessly between all 5 channels in minute detail.

When a classic album like “In the Court of the Crimson King” receives an superlative 5.1 surround mix, it requires a special acknowledgment for the producer and mixer, Steven Wilson. As an artist on the original recordings, Robert Fripp approved all these mixes as part of his dedication to the collaborative effort with Steven Wilson; he also requires special acknowledgement.

Above all and of the utmost importance, the discovery and use of the lost first generation tapes have made this DVD Audio release an important historical recording of incalculable value.

Copyright © 2015 Rick Kosmick and HRAudio.net

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Comments (4)
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Comment by fausto kantiano - February 18, 2017 (1 of 4)

why are the other double-disc (CD+DVD-A) 40th anniversary KCs not listed?

Comment by elite360 - April 1, 2017 (2 of 4)

I asked the same thing a year ago, was told that they'll only add DVD-As if they're (going to be) reviewed.

Comment by fausto kantiano - April 4, 2017 (3 of 4)

what an odd policy!

Comment by Mark Werlin - April 15, 2017 (4 of 4)

Re Fausto's comment about rock DVD-As not being added to the HRAudio database if the titles are not reviewed:

The DVD-A format enjoyed a brief period of popularity that peaked 15 years ago. Although the King Crimson CD/DVD-A sets are outliers in the pop music market, they are widely available, and information about them is not difficult to find online. Unless one of the site reviewers is planning to write about the KC DVD-A titles (which were released several years ago), there doesn't seem to be much point in listing them.

I own two of the KC CD/DVD-A sets, "In the Court of the Crimson King" and "Red". I haven't posted a review of "Red" because I don't own a MCH system, and cannot write about Steve Wilson's multichannel remix. Since the entire series was approved by Robert Fripp, and to my knowledge, there's no controversy that the sound quality exceeds earlier RBCD issues, the whole series is self-recommending. For what it's worth, I think "Red" deserves five stars for performance and five stars for stereo sound. I'm sure that fans of the MCH mix would award it an equally high rating.

Discussions about rock music SACDs that appeared in the forum of the predecessor site, SA-CD.net, focused less on musical content and more on complaints about compressed dynamic range, speculation about source tapes, and arguments about Japanese vs. American remastering. I doubt that those many thousands of words sold many dozens of rock music SACDs.