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


King Crimson


Eclectic Prog

4.42 | 2975 ratings

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3 stars King Crimson. A band I instantly fell in love with after hearing Red. And yet a band that can be so alarmingly disappointing that it hurts. Because shameless experimentation, brave and ground-breaking as it might be, isn't always my cup of tea. Melody and structure makes me a happier man. With Starless and Bible Black and its extensive improvised live jamming, the real 'songs' on the album were the only things that saved it from a negative review. And those songs are among my all time favourites.

The funny thing is that on Larks' Tongue In Aspic, it's almost the exact opposite. The two parts of the title piece is truly amazing and, for a change, actually feel like they have a direction. Thus, a rare (for me) song-by-song review is required.

Starting with a great xylophone-dominated part, Larks' Tongues In Aspic, Part I is just something special. One of those moments you know you're in for a real treat. And via some sinister Fripp-work and strings you're soon nailed to the wall by such an ear-shattering heavy riff that it just blows your socks off! And sure, this aggressiveness is a very integral part of the whole KC experience and one of the greatest assets in making their sound so utterly boundless in time. It feels perfectly fresh. While the following cacophony might appear way to free-form to some (which should include me...), I think it's a tight, frantic and very interesting combination of great percussion, drums, bass and on top of everything the nervous, wandering guitar of Robert Fripp.

Indeed, the title suite is pure bliss if you like to hear some talented musicians. Bill Bruford is everywhere together with percussionist Jamie Muir and the impressive bass playing of John Wetton, who also fills the role as vocalist. I stand in awe wondering how it's possible to keep the instruments synchronized, and for some time mr. Fripp actually finds himself overshadowed by his rythm section.

After such an intense experience, it's only healthy with a long violin passage. Painful, screaming tones makes it sound very desolate, nothing more than a vague touch of percussion (and perfection) accompanies the lone cry of the instrument. Suddenly, after a dark crescendo, it all finishes just as quietly as it began.

No wonder it's hard accepting Book of Saturday after that. A typical Crimson ballad, if there ever was one, not far from Lament on Starless and Bible Black. It's beautiful, melancholic and surely one of Wetton's better vocal performances but feels...a little flat? While Lament had a certain edge, this one just lacks it. Pretty much the same outline for Exiles, but since it's a lot longer, there's also a lot more space for the song to grow. Consider it the upgraded version of Book Of Saturday, with tasteful guitar, piano and violin. The Mellotron is really nice here and all I can say is - atmosphere. Feel it.

Then we have the two songs Easy Money and The Talking Drum. While neither is bad, they both have serious trouble taking off. After the promising start of the former, it gets a little stuck in the mud, conjuring up images of a Fripp noodling along with closed eyes, while the rest of the band just follows, with little or no space to do something really good. And how fun is it to listen to a drum beat with just one bassline over it for seven and a half minutes, even with a massive violin-coated ending?

After all these so-so moments it all falls into place once more on Larks Tongue In Aspic, Part II. So once again this is a KC album which gives me very mixed feelings. Charming as that may be, it would be highly unfair to rate this very high for loving the title suite. It is better than Starless and Bible Black though, and that means 3.5 stars.


LinusW | 3/5 |


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