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King Crimson - Islands CD (album) cover


King Crimson


Eclectic Prog

3.81 | 1691 ratings

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The Quiet One
Prog Reviewer
5 stars Depressing and Beautiful Islands

Islands is King Crimson's 4th studio album, this surged after another disliked by the majority of the fans, Lizard, a quirkier and jazzier album. With Islands, King Crimson moved to a softer and less complex sound, though still maintaining the dark aura, with a bit less of the extravagant(for some) jazz roots from Lizard, however this album can easily be differentiated from the rest because of its depressing and melancholic mood overall.

Anyway, the everlasting change of line-up also ocurrs here; Boz Burrell and Ian Wallace join the group, supporting vocals/bass and drums, respectively. These two new musicians while they weren't as capable as the previous drummer and bassist, one of the factors why people don't like the album, still were decent enough so as to not ruin the music. Besides the ''negative'' addition, there's a very good addition of wind instruments, giving it a unique touch, which no other Crimson album has. Now to the songs:

The album starts with Formentera Lady, which it begins with a wonderful blend of wind instruments to Boz's soft, yet with a dark feel, voice. The song evolves constantly but very subtley, which slowly more instruments are added to this incredible piece, Mel's great saxophone or Robert's acoustic guitar, even some scary voices giving it a unique dark mood to the song.

The following song is called Sailor's Tale. The song opens in a fast tempo drumming, with a decent, yet entertaining, bass line, and soon the sax to come to give a give a typical KC feel to the song. At a certain point, the sax and Robert's guitar reaches a climax in which soon fades, and a new rhythm to the song appears, this time a slower one, yet incredible. The main protagonist here is Robert with his amazing guitar solo, with a sound that reminds me to tin. After this incredible guitar show, the song reaches to another climax, and soon an odd sound blasts, leaving a dramatic mellotron to guide the song to the end.

The album continues with The Letters, a much softer song compared to the strength of it's previous. Boz' voice is similar to the one he delivers in Formentera Lady, soft and depressing, with Robert's acoustic guitar. But if you thought the song would be gentle all the time, you are wrong, an unexpected and frantic appearance of the sax with Robert's subtle, yet powerful guitar destroys that soft and depressing tenderness completely. That won't last long however, since the song recovers from that mind-blowing blast, but not completely, now the melody is led by Mel's saxophone, which won't lead to soft paths for so long. The song recovers once again to the rhythm of the intro, but with a bit more of energy delivered by Boz's voice, till it finishes with just Boz's depressing voice.

Want a rest? Well, you'll have to wait, because now comes the powerful, yet slow tempo, Ladies of the Road. The song has a slow rhythm, as mentioned before, created by the drums and bass, quite well performed both got to admit. Yet, the song will have it's jumps and lay downs; the jumping blast of the beginning with Mel's immpecable sax or Robert's guitar solo near the end, as well as the final sax solo with Boz' great powerful voice; the lay downs would be the very soft and gentle ''chorus' ''.

If you want to rest now, I'll give you my word to do that. Because know comes a ''classical'' song, Prelude: Song Of The Gulls, a beautiful and delicate piece performed by strings and some wind instruments. A delightness which with not many bands you can experience.

Islands finishes with the depressing title track. A song compromised by flute, piano and Boz' delightful voice. The song moves into more depressing fields when Mel's saxophone is heard. Finalising the song, the melody is made by a cheerful, though oddly enough depressing, cornet accompanied with a melodic piano and a sad mellotron and a calm drum pattern. Truly emotional this final song is, with the last section, given to cry.

To make it short, it's a wonderful depressing work of art. Gives you the classic power of KC with Robert's guitar and Mel's saxophone in songs as Sailor's Tale or The Letters, as well as the unique touch of this album which is to enjoy the beauty of songs like Islands or Prelude: Song of the Gulls. There's no other album like this in KC's catalogue, which I must insist you to admire it's uniqueness and further more give it some more spins before giving up.

5 stars. Don't buy this album expecting complexity or virtuosity on the rhythm section as in Lark's Tongue in Aspic, I recomend this album for all the aspects I named in the previous paragraph.

The Quiet One | 5/5 |


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