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


King Crimson


Eclectic Prog

3.93 | 1666 ratings

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4 stars Due to being sandwiched between highly-acclaimed 1973's Larks' Tongues In Aspic and 1974's Red, - one may find it easy to understand why Starless and Bible Black gets overlooked. Before the recording of this album, experimental percussionist Jamie Muir left the group leaving Bill Bruford as the sole percussionist. Perhaps in order to compensate for their loss; this album features some of Brufords' most wacky percussive ideas which often consist of organic-sounding, highly polished staccato rolls. Guitar-wise, Robert Fripp takes on a more subdued, fairly noisy yet accompanying role for the majority of the album and often the time in which you can hear him at his clearest will most likely be the gentlest sections. Musically Starless and Bible Black is a game of two halves; - Side One has six short-to-mid-length pieces, two of which are complete instrumentals. It begins with 'The Great Deceiver' which is a very cluttered and disonnant song and it's also the closest you'll hear to a 'rock' song on this album. To follow up is 'Lament' which is a very dynamic piece of music for its short length. A gentle ballad for the most part but with a tendency to spiral into syncopated-riff mayhem. 'We'll Let You Know' is a very representative song of the album as an entirety as it showcases very archetypal Crimson quiet improv jamming with flashes of vibraphone swirls and a hazy backdrop; yet it fails to fo find its drive nor find its purpose. 'The Night Watch' is a nice vocal-led quiet song with a quasi-political undertone yet lacks real accessibility and enchantment. 'Trio' and 'The Mincer' are both left-field, experimental and mostly instrumental songs which are quite in keeping with the general mood of the album however they're not tracks one would listen to outside of the album's context. Side Two is entirely instrumental and consists of two long tracks, the first of which is the title track 'Starless and Bible Black' which is nine-minutes long and for the most part very sleepy and inconsequential. Flashes of inspiration appear throughout but at this stage it fails to capture one's attention entirely. 'Fracture' is a massive improvement and easily my personal favourite on the album; a composition solely written by Fripp and lasting eleven-minutes. The track is incredibly dynamic and undergoes many interesting key changes, mood changes and time signature changes. It begins quietly yet springs into life with a quintessentially scary and dischordant ending section akin to 'The Devil's Triangle' from 1970's 'In the Wake of Poseidon' .. and then the album finishes.    Overall; - a sprawling and ambitious work by Crimson which often gets slated due to its high focus on noodly inprov-driven instrumentals and fuzzy production values, yet I personally like it as it's quite exotic and very different. It has a certain aesthetic charm to it that only those who have listened will understand. Definitely one of Crimson's most left-field releases yet full of moments of euphoria and high levels of musicianship.  
Orpheus-keys | 4/5 |


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