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


King Crimson


Eclectic Prog

3.93 | 1718 ratings

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Cygnus X-2
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Interesting concept with this Crimson album, as half of the album is performed live in front of an audience (the same concert as the live release The Night Watch), and the other half performed in the studio. The live tracks on this album range from totally out there improvs (Starless and Bible Black) and impeccably structured songs (Fracture); regardless, this is probably the weakest album of the Wetton/Bruford era of the group. The members of the bands are great (as always) on this album, with Wetton giving great vocal performances and incredibly tasteful bass performances, Bruford going off in his own world of complex and lush drumming, Cross creating sorrowful lines on his violin and mellotron, and Fripp, who brings all of it together, with his endlessly complicated and intricate playing. It all adds up to a recipe of success. But is this album I success?

Unfortunately, there are many strengths to this album, but there are also some weaknesses. Lament is an overall weak tune, with a bland intro and a somewhat unispired middle section. We'll Let You Know and The Mincer are also pretty forgettable instrumentals, despite the excellent performances from the band. However, those songs comprise of less than half the album. So let me tell you about the strong tracks.

The Great Deceiver is the opener to the album, with a strong opening riff that is really heavy for its time. A memorable chorus and a strong bass performance from Wetton top off the track. The Night Watch appears after Lament and We'll Let You Know, and it's one of the most beautiful pieces the group had created at that time (with only Exiles being ahead of it). The great mellotron work from Cross is augmented brilliantly from a great guitar line during the instrumental breaks from Fripp. Easily one of the best on the album. Trio is one of the two completely improvisational works on the album. It's amazing how intuitive the group is, because this song sounds like in no way, shape, or form, an improv. Every musician performances couples perfectly with everyone elses to make a truly enjoyable experience.

Starless and Bible Black is the second true improvisational track on the album, and it really is strong. The drumming on this track is also notable, with Bruford really going all out on this track. The guitar from Fripp is also utterly superb. Speaking of superb guitar from Fripp, Fracture totally takes his playing to the next level. Words cannot describe how utterly complicated the guitar playing on Fracture is, it's just so, unbelievably difficult to play those dissonant lines that are played all around the fretboard in such a quick sequence. Fripp really is one of the greatest guitarists of all time because he can play songs as complicated as this. Wetton, Bruford, and Cross help him out all along the way, with strong performances from all of them as well.

Well, musically, this album is hit and miss. Vocally, this album is hit and miss. But despite these faults, there is a lot to like about this album. If you are a guitarist, or any musician as a matter of fact, you should get this album because you will be blown away by some incredibly talented (an understatement) musicians. For me, I liked this album, but I wouldn't call it a masterpiece such as Red or Discipline. It's a good album. 3.5/5.

Cygnus X-2 | 3/5 |


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