When Robert Fripp posted on his Facebook page that King Crimson had “moved from sound to silence” at the end of their last date in Japan, it seems to confirm that, for this line-up at least, King Crimson is at an end.
The full post reads: “King Crimson at the Shibuya Bunkamura Orchard Hall, Tokyo; Wednesday 8th. December 2021 Onstage at 18.40, doors held for ten minutes to allow the audience to enter. A full house. The first set: one hour and three minutes. Overall length: two hours and twenty-four minutes. King Crimson’s final note of Starless, the last note of this Completion Tour in Japan, moved from sound to silence at 21.04.”
Interpreting Fripp’s pronouncements about the movements and intentions of King Crimson isn’t always an easy task even for seasoned Crim-watchers. This is, after all, a band that has previously “ceased to exist” on at least four occasions over its eventful and occasionally turbulent 52-year history.
But although we’ve learned never to say never with King Crimson, with members not getting any younger, and along with the complexities and uncertainties for large-scale touring in the wake of Covid not going away any time soon, it does feel as though time has finally been called on what has been a remarkable musical journey.
The three-drummer iteration of King Crimson has been the longest-running in the band’s history. With numerous live releases documenting their dramatic and sometimes revelatory reinvention of material old and new, they never recorded a studio album. It seems unlikely that they will do so now. However, with every gig the band ever played in its 8-year reign nestling safely in the archive, it’s certain there’ll be a few more live albums along the way to keep avid Crimheads happy.
So where next for Fripp and company? We know Gavin Harrison has his calendar filled with Porcupine Tree dates, and Tony Levin and Pat Mastelotto are touring together in their Stick Men trio with Markus Reuter next year. Mel Collins and Jeremy Stacey remain in-demand first-call players whose telephone will no doubt be ringing off the hook and Jakko Jakszyk is already at work on his next solo album. Fripp himself has indicated that he’ll be performing a series of soundscape concerts in the USA in 2022 that will also include a Q&A session with Fripp and KC manager David Singleton, and of course, there’s always the possibility that he could reactivate his ‘wild card’ guitarist mode, something that has happened whenever King Crimson has come to a standstill in the past.
And who knows, the emergence of a different albeit non-touring King Crimson line-up could once again take us all by surprise the way it did in 2014. Fripp also says ‘a completion is a new beginning,’ so perhaps we shouldn’t be too quick to write the band’s epitaph just yet? As ever, when it comes to King Crimson, there are always more questions than answers.