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


King Crimson


Eclectic Prog

3.91 | 1460 ratings

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Anthony H.
Prog Reviewer
4 stars King Crimson: Starless and Bible Black [1974]

Rating: 8/10

Starless and Bible Black is the second of the three exceptional albums King Crimson released under the Fripp/Wetton/Bruford/Cross lineup. This album is generally considered to be the weakest of the three, but considering the quality of this era, this is more complimentary than disparaging. Starless and Bible Black is sharply divided between two different styles: quirky experimental progressive hard rock, and avant-garde improvisations/instrumentals. With the exception of three songs, this is the most minimalistic album in the band's catalogue.

"The Great Deceiver" is a heavy jazzy song, beginning frantically with fast-paced jazzy guitar and throbbing bass. Wetton's vocals add to the madness, and the chorus is excellent. "Lament" starts in a calm manner, with subdued vocals and Mellotron. Crazy percussion enters, and the song becomes quite heavy. "We'll Let You Know" is the first experimental instrumental here, with dissonant guitar/percussion and throbbing bass. Cross's violin finally gets some attention on "The Night Watch." This is a spectacular song that features some of Wetton's best vocals. Fripp's characteristic guitar style is quite emotional here. "Trio" is quite minimalistic, similar to "Moonchild" is many ways. The atmosphere is excellent. "The Mincer" focuses on eerie Mellotron, repetitive percussion, and crazy guitar tones. The brief vocal segment at the end adds to the almost spooky atmosphere of this piece. About half of the excellent title track is occupied by ambient guitar soloing, and the rhythm section picks up the pace during the section half. "Fracture" is one of the greatest King Crimson instrumentals. The greatest thing about this song is the way it builds: subtle tones and textures turn into an intense crescendo-laden climax. This conclusion is one of my favorite moments from the band.

This is yet another esteemed album from a band during one of their creative peaks. However, Starless and Bible Black is one of King Crimson's least accessible records; it has a steep learning curve, if you will. The more abstract tracks can sound a little bit like mere feedback to the unaccustomed ear. Although the compositional ingenuity present on Larks' Tongues and Red isn't quite as present here, I would still call this album essential, particularly to fans of experimental and minimalistic rock.

Anthony H. | 4/5 |


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