Wednesday, 30 July 2008

KING CRIMSON: Matte Kudasai

Another memory of that watery, chimerical early winter of 1981, and this one I've always paired in my mind with Foreigner's "Waiting For A Girl Like You," mainly because key Crimson members are involved in both and there is clear evidence of the direct and indirect spread of Frippertronics in each. I can't really recall why Fripp felt it necessary to revive the Crimson name but seven or eight years after the unsparing prairies of Starless and Red he was wise to refocus on the song as small intelligent mobile thing in itself.

"Matte Kudasai" - phonetically it's Japanese for "Please Wait" - seems to have been Adrian Belew's baby; he writes and sings the song, though Fripp takes the instrumental lead, his guitar delay rendering his testimony hand-free; the Fripp drift is slightly too pronounced and carries a distinct air of sinister in the intro but soon glides and cries over the gentle landscape which might be the missing link between Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac and Bill Frisell's Power Tools. A ballad in the line of "North Star," sung by Daryl Hall on Fripp's Exposure two years previously, Belew's lyric is a yearning haiku. Comparisons with Don McLean were made at the time in relation to Belew's vocals, though in reality - and with the benefit of jarring hindsight - they predict Rufus Wainwright, in both grain and subject matter, to a degree which goes slightly past uncanny. The pane in the window by which she's sitting, sleeping, mingling with the pain of the rain falling outside; "she waits in the air.../she sleeps in a chair/in her sad America."

More than that, though, we can easily also pair the performance off with another spectre of that November, "White Car In Germany" by the Associates, with its similarly guitar-less guitar lines and a similar craving sustenato to Billy's - "When was a night so long?" Belew sings for a very long time, "Long like the notes I'm sending?" She's waiting for a boy like him to come into her life. The two-way mirror must give way sooner or later.