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


King Crimson


Eclectic Prog

4.42 | 2978 ratings

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4 stars King Crimson - Larks' Tongues in Aspic (1973)

This review was edited due to change of opinion

The progress Robert Fripp's Crimson made in just four years is unbelievable! First they've set the standard for symphonic prog, secondly they showed how to use jazz influences in prog on Lizard. Now the time had come to make all the heavy metal bands of the seventies look like they are shy neighbourhood-friendly bands. This album has a lot of progressive elements; the first trash-metal riff, progressive music with a violin that play's solo parts, a percussionist playing a strange assortment of percussions and totally new harmonic interpretations of rock. Only for this varied combination of inventions this album should be listened to by every listener of progressive music.

It took me some time to learn to appriciate this album. At first I though it was mediocre for a King Crimson record. Over the years I've learned to sit through the confronting passages and I got more positive excitement during the passages I do like. Still I think the album could have been better with a mix that's less extreme on the dynamic aspect. The difference between soft and loud is to big throughout.

The opening-section of the album with it's soft percussions is a bit boring, but as soon as the exciting double violins and the guitars tune in you can feel this is really something. The thick sounding fade-in guitars are a good warm-up for the main riff of the song, that could be seen as the first trash-metal riff. After that we get to listen to some furious and disjointed guitar exercises by Fripp, and to be completely honest with you; I never liked the combination with the percussion to much and on this part it really ruins it a bit. After the main body of the song Larks' Tongues in Aspic part I has a silent interlude with nostalgic violin and the band makes an exciting comback with a punchy rhythm and sound-effects (I think recordings from tv).

Book of Saterday is 'the relaxing' track of the album, as most King Crimson albums seem to have one. The vocals of Wetton never suited my tastes, but the chords and backwards-sounding guitar melodies create a nice piecefull atmosphere. Exiles has a great intro with a low-playing string-instrument and some sound-effects, before evolving into what is perhaps the most beautifull song of the album. It's nice to hear King Crimson do some mellotron-based chords progressions once in a while. The violin sounds relevent on the main theme, though I wouldn't have mind a more pitch-perfect take on this melody. A majestic ending for side one this is.

Easy Money is however the complete opposite of majestic, for it could be discribed as a raw, rhythm-driven semi-punk song that's a bit out of place here. There's however plenty room for some more silly percussions by Jamie Muir (perhaps I'm not his biggest fan) and a solo section with some interesting interplay. On the next offering in line, The Talking Drum, King Crimson shows some of their interesting developments in the improvisational aspect of the music. Though based on a simple bass melody (with the unholy tritones or raised fourth), the track has a nice dark sound. Again, I would not have mind a more pitch-perfect violin recording. The track ends in something that sounds like an awfull scream, but as soon as you realize what is going on you are being launched into Larks' Tongues in Aspic part number two. Often perceived as the bigger brother of part one, it indeed is a great track that has a bit more body (or completeness) then most of the other tracks of this album. The main riff in 11/8 (you can't just use your fingers for this one) is highly exciting and it's lovely how the distorted bass guitar of Wetton suits the music fine. Near the ending of the track we get to listen to some recognisable instrumental panic and franzied drums over the main theme and it's time to close the album with some last shrieks.

Conclusion. Yet another King Crimson album that could be listened to as if watching a good movie; with full dedication and a fresh explorative mind-set. The heavyness, the strange percussions and the big dynamic differences (the long quiit passages) may leave some of us dazzled, but overall this is a great King Crimson record that stood the test of time very well. I'm going to give this one four stars.

friso | 4/5 |


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