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Emerson Lake & Palmer - Tarkus CD (album) cover

TARKUS

Emerson Lake & Palmer

 

Symphonic Prog

4.04 | 1251 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Hedenman
3 stars I call it "The Tarkus syndrome"

You have one side of a record with an epic that sounds truly groundbreaking, that embodies all the qualities in prog rock, well, in music really. A true statement, showing that ELP was not all about self-indulgence, excess and flashy technique.

Well, mostly they were. But not always. They managed to use their skill to create a sonic adventure, one of the most creative effort of the seventies, and a very underestimated one at that. The first, selftitled side is five stars in my book.

I've never been too fond of Emerson, Lake or Palmer, especially not of Lake. I found them to be quite mediocre composers, often glimmering when making covers of Ginastera or Mussorgsky, but unable to come up with own ideas. In my teens, when I considered the technical skill at a performance a musical achievement worth praise no matter what it led up to, I was some kind of fan. Since they probably are the band that has fallen out of favour the most for me, today I'd say the first side of the Tarkus Lp is way better than anything else the band has put out to date.

"Tarkus", divided into seven parts, is certainly not an easy listen, and it probably has to be listened to a few times before it really can be appreciated. For me, it was the first I ever heard of the band, and unprepared for what I was going to hear I couldn't stand it. The second time, I got intrigued. After a few more plays, I learned to love it. I recommend everyone to give this one a few tries before you pass a judgement on it. Clocking at over twenty minutes, it covers a range from frantic to beautiful, and it all works seamlessly in a way very few prog rock epics do. In structure, (not in compositional skill) it resembles a classical piece.

After an eerie introduction, the blistering "Eruption" begins, and with it's frantic patterns where Emerson explodes on his keyboards and Palmer delivers his unorthodox time signature brilliantly it really makes me think of an eruption. At high speed all three of them is giving all they got before it segues into "Stones of years", one of Lake's most beautiful moments as a singer, a perfect contrast to the manic beginning, with subtle keys by Keith, showing he is not all about flashy solos.

The three following movements are wonderfully composed, it really challenges you musically in a way you couldn't believe a three-man orchestra was able to do. All the more impressing since the suite was rehearsed and recorded in mere six days. Battlefield is a very gentle, easy composition that still contains great emotional depth. And does so even without extraordinary lyrics. It's not that ELP has terrible lyrics. But they're never anything special, never moving, never especially clever. Just mediocre I guess. But at least in "Tarkus" they fit in great in the general atmosphere, which for example, the BSS lyrics imho fail to do. That ELP got a good sense of humour as well is proved by "Aquatarkus", with the submarine moog sounds that lead you back to a reprise of the beginning. At the end you feel satisfaction by the end of the piece, And excitement.

The Tarkus syndrome. It's quite easy to explain. There are several albums on this site that just accomplished to write and record an epic. An epic that sounds truly groundbreaking, that embodies all the qualities in prog rock, well, in music really. A true statement.

Then you realize you can't release a twenty minute album. It must contain something else as well.

I say no more. But let's put it this way. Emerson, Lake & Palmer had their problems to get material to the flipside.

Or, besides from the rocking outbursts in "Bitches crystal", they just didn't give a f'*ck.

Hedenman | 3/5 |

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