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

LARKS' TONGUES IN ASPIC

King Crimson

 

Eclectic Prog

4.42 | 2834 ratings

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Wicket
Prog Reviewer
4 stars "Larks Tongues In Aspic" begins probably the most highlighted phase of King Crimson's career, the "free improvisation" period, with Yes drummer Bill Bruford leaving commercialism for a darker sound, percussionist Jamie Muir, bassist and singer John Wetton and keyboardist and violinist David Cross. It marked a big change, not just in group formation, but also writing and composition in general.

Gone was Peter Sinfield and his softer, melodic compositions and thought out lyrical writing. In was Wetton's friend Richard Palmer-James, whose sole purpose was lyric writing. The fancy production and synths was made way for more raw instrumentalism.

Part one of the title track emphasizes that in spades. After a meditative, almost gamelan-esque intro (probably to mock Sinfield), the track lunges forward with frantic Fripp riffs, manic drums and toys and constant time shifts, before the meditative violin and atmospheric sounds close out the track. Each of these sections are a good few minutes long, so they have time to develop and run their course before it transitions into a sharper texture. Fripp's experience with past records has codified and produced a sharper and more cohesive sound.

"Book of Saturday" provides the token 'short track' role, with some lyrics, some violin and some guitar noodling and not much beyond that. And yet, it says a whole lot more, because it sounds more Sinfield-ian in sound, and yet because its Fripp's writing and composition, it's ok. It also most likely grew on him as well, that atmospheric style of music. It even continues in Exiles, which almost hearkens back to "Epitaph" from "Crimson King", just with a bit less pomp and circumstance. It's more restrained, softer, yes, but more cohesive, like it feels like one song, and not two mashed together on one track.

"Easy Money" has a bit of a Pink Floyd feel going. Once again, it starts off soft like most of the songs on the album, but halfway through the band starts to come alive, the instrumentalism becomes more defined, and Wetton does channel his inner David Gilmour towards the end. Which is good, since the "The Talking Drum" features instrumental prowess in spades, as well as the closing Part 2 of the title track. The whole album, especially these last few tracks, feature Muir in phenomenal ways. His avant-garde style of percussion breathes a new life into songs that otherwise would've been boring (I long to see more drummers use bicycles and toys as part of their drum kit). Sadly, he underwent some sort of spiritual crisis and became a monk afterwards, but then again, this genre wasn't for the faint of heart.

And it still isn't. Musically, this is one of Crimson's most instrumentally complex albums to date. Less songwriting and more composing, it's a musical balancing act combining the remains of Sinfield's softer transitions with Fripp's loud, gung-ho playing style, and while the jazz-bebop tendencies are surprisingly reduced on this album, it's still a raucous ride to the very end. A gem of the Crimson catalog.

Wicket | 4/5 |

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