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

LARKS' TONGUES IN ASPIC

King Crimson

 

Eclectic Prog

4.39 | 1851 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Isa
Prog Reviewer
5 stars |A| One of the most timeless and adventurous albums of all time.

King Crimson's Lark's Tongue in Aspic was one of those few strange albums that I somehow knew it was going to be one of my favorites before even hearing a single note of it. I'm still unsure why, maybe it was the awesome title, the album cover, a friend's description of it that I forgot, or something along those lines. Either way, my first impressions didn't blow me away, but I felt this was a worthwhile album with which to become familiar, and eventually became and remains one of my favorite albums of all time. It cuts through any stereotypes, boundaries, categorizations, anything that might group it with other albums... truly one of the most unique albums I've heard yet. I put it on right after being exposed to god-awful dance music as rebellion or right after having my mind been stretched by obscure classical music as a form of rejoicing. There's almost something spiritual about the work in this album, though I don't think I could ever really put my finger one what makes it so. I just know it's one of those works that truly stretches the musical imagery of the listener, taking them on one hell of an adventure.

So just what about this album makes it so unique, so strange compared to even most other progressive music out there? Well, I think it has to do with Fripp's composition moment of brilliance combined with the incredibly intricate and delicate musicianship. Many unconventional composition techniques were accomplished in this album, and it leaves me to believe this was some of Fripp's most adventurous and experimental work yet, that probably being the understatement of the year. Here's a sample: Lark's Tongue in Aspic Pt. 1 starts off with what sounds like a marimba, and incredible marimba work at that, soon adding in soft percussion and sound effects. In come violins playing staccato notes in 10/8 (3+3+2+2, judging by the accents created to distinguish the macro-beats, I think) eventually layering on distortion guitar lines, building to the main riff of the track. That intro alone tells you what you're in for with this album. You won't find much in the way of melody (except for the perfect vocal lines) or anything structurally conventional. Most everything contributes to the overall mood and musical elasticity of the moment, the sound effects, the percussion and drums, the almost frantic guitar and bass parts, almost everything serves an almost atmospheric purpose, and certainly not in the sense that Pink Floyd does. I think I'm even hearing some eastern music influences especially from the violinist and percussionist. Also, somehow this album gets away with being overall incredibly thinly scored, not usually more than two or three parts going at once, yet rather than constrict the sound of the album, this rather seems to enable more freedom to create various musical textures. Few albums match the creativity of almost any moment on this beautiful piece of art.

As far as tracks go, each one I can gladly say is among my favorite King Crimson tracks, and thus some of my favorite tracks in all of prog are all on this album. The instrumentals Lark's Tongue in Aspic Pt's 1 & 2 as well as Talking Drum mostly include incredible use of ethnic percussion and various colors and textures within each track, even more so than the tracks with vocals. These tracks include the voice of bassist Wetton, which would be the most likely thing in my mind to scare off most people from this album, for most people don't seem to like his tone and singing style very much. I personally don't mind it, in fact I'd say it fits perfectly with the underscored music. I guess I'd be willing to admit it's slightly pitchy in some spots, but it's never bothered me much. And that's something that usually bothers me with some prog bands. Exiles reminds me a bit of Epitaph in the use of acoustic guitar arpeggios, but the track itself is really quite different in almost every other way, especially with the violin long tones. I especially love the flute, very reminiscent of ItCotCK overall. Easy Money is probably my favorite track in that that drummer and percussionist just go mad towards the end - I find few things in music more exciting than that build towards the end.

So yes, I do adore this album, and do consider it essential to every progger. It's really hard to give any comparisons to any music the material here sounds anything like this, as it usually is with King Crimson. Only I'd say this album transcends even prog itself. I find it hard to review albums I view as masterpieces because I feel I can never really do justice as a reviewer to the quality of the album, but hopefully I've come somewhere close with this one. If you like more overall experimental music that focuses mostly on textures and somewhat avant-garde sensibilities, or just want more challenging music than your usual prog, boy do you need this album. This is my favorite King Crimson record by far, and one of my favorite pieces of artistic music for me to have ever heard.

Isa | 5/5 |

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