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


King Crimson


Eclectic Prog

4.42 | 2976 ratings

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James Lee
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Ushering in a new era for the band, "Larks' Tongues in Aspic" shows a new solidified lineup after the personnel chaos of the previous albums, and a noticeably different approach- in my opinion, the best period of KING CRIMSON's history starts right here.

It's never a problem for Fripp & co. to open an album, and "Larks' Tongues pt. 1" is possibly the most compelling of all their intro statements. The rolling, tinkling percussion establishes the tension, which is given movement and shape by the dramatic string stabs and fuzzy descent that follows. Just as the thunderous climax is reached, the heavy riff explodes on the scene, instantly making music history (and sending chills down my back every single time). The song bogs down just the slightest bit as the improvisational sections kick in, but we're able to hear David Cross' incredible bowing, found vocal samples and eastern inflections among the novel sonic elements.

The melancholy tone and slightly jumpy rhythms of "Book of Saturdays" intoduce us to Wetton's wooly vocals. More personal and emotional than anything the band has yet done, the fine lyrics that Palmer-James provide give us a new dimension to the previously rarefied KC soundscape. It's slightly out of place between the noisier aural epics of the rest of the album, but this brief song is no less full of instrumental delights.

"Exiles" billows in like a slow-building storm, but then reveals itself to be plaintive rather than thunderous. The overall tone is evocative and lovely, like a more inspired and instrumentally adventurous MOODY BLUES composition- and the lead guitar is characteristically sublime. The exceptional drumming serves as a good example of why Bruford was so essential to the previous YES albums, and Wetton's warm but ragged tones fit the new sound better than Lake (or Haskell, or Burrell, or Anderson) could have done.

"Easy Money" could have easily been this album's rocking "21st Century Schizoid Man", but the song dares to follow brief, hushed tangents to create a more appealing and unpredictable structure. Wetton presents a unique bass presence that his predecessors often lacked, occasionally approaching Chris Squire's raspy brilliance, and Cross removes any doubts that a violin can work in louder, harsher passages.

"The Talking Drum" further represents the new exotic influences, due in no small part to Muir's contributions. Cross leads the movement as this unsettling, slow building track evolves around more subtle improvisations than those featured on the other instrumental tracks.

"Larks' Tongues pt. 2" is final, masterful evidence of the direction the band is taking; the unstoppable, hard-edged momentum on this song will be the blueprint for "Fracture", "Starless and Bible Black", "Red", and even later works (it's similar to the instrumentals on "Discipline" and of course "Larks' Tongues pt. 3" on "Three of a Perfect Pair"). Despite the later efforts of metal and punk to roughen up the musical landscape, this is the still some of the heaviest and hardest music in any genre. Listen close because I can't risk being overheard by the "Court of the Crimson King" diehards...this album is a much better reflection of the band than their debut.

James Lee | 5/5 |


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