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King Crimson - Larks' Tongues in Aspic CD (album) cover


King Crimson


Eclectic Prog

4.42 | 2978 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars With their fifth studio release King Crimson effectively combine the quasi-metallic noise and heaviness of the debut with the free-form jazz that the band had switched to for Islands and Lizard. Lark's Tongue shows Fripp and his new group of cohorts back on top of their game with technical precision balanced by loose improv. David Cross makes the violin into a downright terrifying instrument, while Bill Bruford (fresh from Yes) joins with mad percussionist Jamie Muir to cement the rhythm section with bassist/vocalist John Wetton.

The album opens with part one of the title track, with several minutes of rolling percussion from Muir with occasional violin that builds ever so slowly until the dam bursts and Fripp's riff fills your ears. Wetton and Fripp thunder along with Bruford and Muir, though eventually Cross gets his moment with some great improv. In order to ease off of the throttle, "Book of Saturdays" and "Exiles" are exquisite ballads that manage to display all of the instrumental virtuosity of the title track but without the crushing volume. Still, "Exiles" has its moments where you can hear the band only just refraining from exploding.

"Easy Money" is probably the most recognizable track of the album, and its pounding bassline and abrasive guitar sound make it so memorable. The lyrics are nothing special but they stick in your head, but not in an annoying way. "The Talking Drum" builds like the intro track from near silence into borderline cacophony at the end. The interplay between Cross and Mr. Fripp is simply stunning. The albums closes with part two of the title track, is even more precise than part one and it's the kind of song that can both encourage listeners to learn an instrument and dissuade them because they'll never be that good.

Bruford and Muir's interplay, Wetton's pounding bass, Fripp's new guitar tone, and the unique bowing of Cross make this album as must have for prog fans. Larks' Tongue in Aspic is one of the earliest examples of prog metal (the earliest being Deep Purple), but, unlike Purple, it has not been used as the blueprint. So singular is the sound and music of this album that none could ever hope to mimic it. Only now have bands like Tool been able to capture the spirit, and even then that's taken more from the accessible Red than here. Newcomers to KC should certainly not start here, get ITOTCK and Red, their two best and most accessible, before braving this.

Grade: A

1800iareyay | 5/5 |


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