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

STARLESS AND BIBLE BLACK

King Crimson

 

Eclectic Prog

3.93 | 1699 ratings

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Teh_Slippermenz
4 stars Having reacted positively to my first two exposures to the Crimson Kings (their first and third albums, In the Court of the Crimson King and Lizard respectively), I decided to lay my money down on this one when I spotted it, Red, and USA while vinyl browsing. My ears have told me over repeated listens that it was money well spent.

"Starless and Bible Black" was King Crimson's follow-up to their previous album, "Larks' Tongues in Aspic" (which I still need to get ahold of...), and it is comprised of both studio tracks and live tracks (with the applause removed and, as I have read, one track was even edited, and the album was presented as a full studio outing), with some tracks, particularly the next to last piece on the album, showcasing their immense talents for improvisation. BTW, King Crimson is the only band I have heard so far who can improvise an instrumental and keep my attention throughout the whole piece.

Additionally, the artwork was designed by Tom Phillips, who, a few years earlier, had released an altered version of the novel "A Human Document", called "A Humument" (look that one up...). A quote from Phillips's version is included on the back of the album sleeve: "This night wounds time."

So, when I decided to give the album a spin, I had the volume up a bit on my turntable, and as I laid the needle on the LP, I knew a little bit about what to expect. And then I was blasted in the face with the sweet opening riffs of "The Great Deceiver", streaming out of my speakers. It really wasn't very close to the previous albums I had heard from Crimson. The word "AWESOME" entered my mind. The frantic guitar work from Fripp, the tight bass lines and really, REALLY cool (*understatement*) vocals from Wetton, the crazy use of the violin by Cross, the virtuoso percussion of the great William Bruford, they all enchanted me. And I am still talking about the first track.

The rest of the side kept me hooked with Lament, We'll Let You Know, The Night Watch, Trio and The Mincer (in that order), with the standouts for me being the other two vocal tracks besides Deceiver on the album, Lament and The Night Watch (which is apparently a musical essay on Rembrandt's painting of the same name), and also The Mincer. Although, those are really just prologues to the second side...

So now we come to the final two tracks on the album: the nine minute title track, and the eleven minute Fracture. (Written entirely by Robert Fripp) Both are the main highlights of the album, to me. The title track is a masterfully improvised song, terrific, really you can't single out any member as performing the best in this song. And then Fracture: I'll use the words of Wikipedia and call it a "strictly composed instrumental", and it is similar to "Larks' Tongues in Aspic Part II". It is driving and hard, and has earned the distinction on several occasions of Robert Fripp admitting that this is one of the most difficult pieces he has ever played. Indeed, I was even thinking myself while listening, "how does he do it?" Stunning finish to this excellent record. It is highly recommended.

Teh_Slippermenz | 4/5 |

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