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King Crimson - Starless and Bible Black CD (album) cover


King Crimson


Eclectic Prog

3.95 | 2117 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

5 stars This album is basically a live album. As a live album, it deserves 5 stars easily, but it isn't so great as a studio album. As such, this album is a good introduction to live king crimson. As most jazz oriented folks could tell you, improv and studio are 2 completely different beasts. An improv is an organic piece. You are being given permission to look into the minds of the musicians to a degree, to get to know them. You get to obsess over how they speak to each other musically. You are struck by how brilliant they are on the spot. Unfortunately, many prog fans don't understand improv that well. They understand classical music, but might perhaps balk at a contemporary free jazz recording. For those types of prog fans, this album is not recommended.

The parts that aren't completely improvised give themselves by their brilliance. For example, the introduction to the night watch, might be one of King Crimson's greatest moments. The most structured songs on this album fit improvisation into them, and not just the solos. Sometimes, during a verse, Robert Fripp will improvise a background touch to the atmosphere. The parts that are improvised should please any jazz fans. The first 2 tracks are heavier, and are very popular among reviewers of this album. They are my least 2 favorite tracks. Catchy and fun, they lack the subtle brilliance of the later tracks. The third is very nice, but might be the weakest improv. This was taken from a set, so one can imagine they are still warming up their improv chops. The night watch, as aforementioned, has a great intro, utterly beautiful, and then breaks into a song which is great. However, the beauty notch hits its peak during trio. It is an improv, in which Bruford had the restraint to not play a single note. Violin, bass, and guitar combine to make a sort of classical sounding piece. Mincer is pretty creative, and features some odd guitar work. By this point Fripp is a demon on the guitar. It cuts out in the middle from a bad tape. Too bad, as it was so cohesive and creative. Finally, we enter the title track. It is a 9 minute improv, and shows them at their best improv-wise. It starts soft and features creative percussion, and then it builds up, before breaking and dropping back down. It is a truly great song. The final song is the infamous fracture. It is a technical tour-de-force for Robert Fripp. It is a whole tone based song, with a repeating chorus, and a build up among a theme where Fripp plays a manically fast cross string pattern requiring utter concentration, because it is the sort of thing where one wrong note could end the song. The cross-string pattern almost sounds like 2 parts at once. It is a sort of prototype to the sort of interlocking dual guitar parts of disclipine, but on one guitar, thus less complex but more impressive for Robert Fripp. Finally, the song breaks into a sort of speed metal climax. Way heavier and faster then the things bands like Black Sabbath and Judas priest were releasing around the time. Then, it repeats the theme at a more aggressive level, and picks up more and more speed until it hits a typical King Crimson conclusion (you know, bombastic, triumphant chords, ect).

This album might be worth 5 stars, or 4 stars, depending on whether you like live music. I'll give it 5 stars but stress that it isn't for everyone.

Nuke | 5/5 |


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