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


King Crimson


Eclectic Prog

3.93 | 1696 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars 6/10

"Starless And Bible Black" is a constantly neurotic piece of music that keeps the listener alert for the most part.

King Crimson are known for being daring at each album they release. Mostly, their experimentation relies on strong instrumentation, complex song structures, but especially improvisation. In a way, 'Starless And Bible Black', containing all three of these elements, is the most experimental and daring album they've released.

Being their sixth studio album, the band had left us quite a bit of material before SABB: the previous effort was and still is praised as one of the great albums of Progressive Rock ('Larks Tongues In Aspic') because of it's brave innovation and instrumentation. If that was one of the most solid and focused LP's of the band, this one is definitely more stretched out, more spread, and has wider boundaries, however, it's not focused or solid enough to be praised as much. One of the main reasons is definitely because on more than half of these forty one minutes are improvisation, whether in studio or recorded live, or whether the vocal parts were dubbed to the improvised music. The written material ends up covering only a small part of the LP. The music here itself however isn't very far from the sounds of 'Lark's Tongues In Aspic'; there are heavy, wild moments, especially in the first few songs, where sax, guitar, and jazzy rhythms are dominant. But the slower parts are the complete opposite of peaceful: At all times, this album is extremely neurotic, tense, and anxious. The eclectic instrumentation, which includes for the best part wild percussion, as it did even more in the previous album, highlights the nervousness of the sound.

'Starless And Bible Black' is a continuous mystery, but it is frustrating how some times, despite the huge attention that it requires and for the most part gains, what is heard isn't extremely thought-provoking or daring. It's listening to multiple improvisations that occasionally build into bursts of virtuously fierce moments, and then one down a bit. It's a sort of roller coaster that expects you to be constantly paranoid, when there's nothing really to be scared of, because despite the freedom it has music-wise, it doesn't push the envelop too far.

It manages for the most part, however, to be quite entertaining, especially in songs like the first two, the fierce yet memorable 'The Great Deceiver', and the more mysterious and intriguing 'Lament'. The improvised parts have their moments as well, like the brief 'We'll Let You Know' or the much longer title track, which boasts amazing musicianship on behalf of everybody. 'The Mincer' is improvised as well, however, vocals by John Wetton were added in studio. 'Trio' is a sort of mellower instrumental piece, while 'Fracture' is actually the most studied and complex song off the album. Finally, a nice little piece of beauty, 'The Night Watch', with good vocals by Wetton.

'Starless And Bible Black' is an extremely ambitious album by King Crimson, and despite the few negatives, it is absolutely well worthwhile. Essential for fans, but people who aren't so shouldn't hesitate.

EatThatPhonebook | 3/5 |


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