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


King Crimson


Eclectic Prog

3.93 | 1696 ratings

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3 stars King Crimson - Starless and Bible Black (1974)

On the 'Larks Tongues in Aspic' album the legendary progressive rock group King Crimson re-established itself as founder of proto-metal progressive rock act under the ever bright waving flag of Robert Fripp. On this second offering of this line-up (that is the first that could be called 'steady') the band continues its course with heavy rock influences, harmonic experimentation and creative compositions.

John Wetton's vocals seem to have grown and the lyrics by Palmer-James provide some new bite to the music, mainly on the well written and performed 'The Night Watch' (based on the famous Dutch painting). The sound of the album is still a bit muddy, just like on the one before this. On side there is mainly song-writing and tracks with short experimentation, whilst the second side is fully instrumental and consists of two tracks (that sound like one) with free expression and heavy guitar experimentation. Most songs sound a bit like loose sand and the brilliance of form (that was a strong elemental of the debut) isn't reached any moment. Having that said, songs like 'The great Deceiver', the ballad-type 'Lament' and 'The Night Watch' are good tracks. 'Trio' has a long fade-in but does evolve into a nice instrumental, almost folk track. 'The Mincer' sounds as if it were only the intro for more to come, but the side ends just when this track begins to get shape. The intro is however very strong. On side two 'Starless and Bible Black' and 'Fracture' are both good psychedelic/progressive compositions/improvisations with inventive heavy guitars by Fripp and a strong rhythmical section by Wetton and Bruford. The percussionist of 'Larks' isn't missed a moment. The band doesn't invent much that wasn't heard on its predecessor, but more strong Crimson tracks are always welcome.

One thing that still bothers me is the lack of understanding how much dynamics a record can have. The enormous difference between loud en soft passages is almost frustrating, especially on side two. One moment you can't almost hear a thing (though the band is playing), the second moment I can't even talk to my company because of the loudness of the music. This makes the music un-attractive for people that aren't too well introduced to the progressive genre.

Conclusion. Another good King Crimson record, but I'm really glad the band changed its vision on production values on the follow-up 'Red'. The soft-loud differences are a problem. Some of the song-writing is really attractive and the inventiveness and dark/heavy sound remains a winner. I guess it's just great to have some bad-ass darkness sounding compositions from time to time. They feel powerful. Having that said, 'Starless and Bible Black' will have to settle for the small three-and-halve star rating. Recommended to fans who also liked 'Red' and 'Larks', but not a great starting point for new-comers.

friso | 3/5 |


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