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

STARLESS AND BIBLE BLACK

King Crimson

 

Eclectic Prog

3.95 | 2111 ratings

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Walkscore
4 stars Fracture - Awesome.

This album continues in the same vein as the previous album (Lark's Tongues), and once again is notable for both Fripp's new (at the time) guitar sound and Bruford's quirky but awesome and original drumming. The highlight of this album is the closer "Fracture", one of rock's - or rather all of the history of music's - most original and inspired compositions. It still blows me away, 40 years later, and there have been very few pieces that are this good. Like Lark's Tongues Part II, this tune established Crimson as a major new voice in music. It is a real shame that Fripp and Bruford could not work together after the 1990s double-trio era, as they are both such original musicians, and I think it is the interplay between them that made this music so compelling. The rest of this album is also inventive, although not quite so iconic as Fracture. And of course, Wetton adds his own stamp with some great bass playing and meloncholic singing (which sometimes doesn't work as well - on Lament for instance), while Cross' violin adds a distinct character, especially in the quieter sections. Much of the album was recorded live in concert in Amsterdam in 1973 (the full concert can be heard on 'The Night Watch'), with overdubs added in the studio, and only a couple of tunes ('Great Deceiver" among them) recorded in the studio. While I love Bruford's drumming as a defining feature of Crimson, on this album one of my favourite pieces (after "Fracture") is the song "Trio" which was improvised during the live show. Bruford thought about joining in, but in the end thought the rest of the band were doing so good a job, he just sat there and listened, so it is a trio rather than a quartet improv. It works really well - a lovely piece of music. Starless and the Bible Black is another great improv here, and both the tunes the "Great Deceiver" and "The Night Watch" are quite good. But the other tunes are filler (as admitted by Fripp and others in the various Crimson biographies - they were under pressure to release a new album but didn't feel they had quite enough material). So, a couple of iconic tunes, but on the whole not quite as good as Lark's Tongues. I give this one 8.1 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates to 4 PA stars.

Walkscore | 4/5 |

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