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

LARKS' TONGUES IN ASPIC

King Crimson

 

Eclectic Prog

4.42 | 2760 ratings

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jamesbaldwin
Prog Reviewer
4 stars After "Islands", King Crimson have dissolved, and Robert Fripp, now the sole owner of the brand, rebuilds them starting from John Wetton, former Family, who provides bass and vocals, and replaces Pete Sinfield to the lyrics; Bill Bruford, virtuoso jazz-rock drummer who abandons Yes after the masterpiece "Close to the Edge" (and before the good but pretentious and pedantic "Tales From Topographic Oceans"); David Cross, violinist; Jamie Muir, drummer.

"Larks' Tongues In Aspic" starts with the song of the same name, Part I, a minisuite of 13 and a half minutes. It is an instrumental piece written by the whole group that constitutes the manifesto of a new conception of rock. After a minimalist ambient start, in fact, the abrasive guitar of Fripp, of which we had already had a taste on "Islands" (Sailor's Tale, The Letters, Ladies of the Road), is unleashed but here the sound is more metallic and it is followed by the percussive sound of the new rhythm section that appears mighty, geometric and twisted at the same time. It is a solid, oblique, paranoid sound, which has lost completely any romantic and liquid ambitions of jazz style. The "Lizard suite" is a thousand miles away. Cross's violin characterizes the second part of the song, more subtle and mellifluous. They are sound atmospheres of great charm, completely new to the music of the time. Masterpiece. Rating 8,5/9.

"Book Of Dreams", less than three minutes, has got the structure of a pop song, but the poor electric guitar-violin arrangement, without drums, makes it a melancholic performance focused on the scanned vocals of Wetton, which takes on the leader's garments, here very much his ease. Rating 6,5. The problems come with the next "Exiles", whose long cacophonic start is only a prelude to an epic ballad conducted by the violin and the drums. In the climax of the song, well done, the voice of Wetton proves completely inadequate to stay behind the music in the high notes, for the clear lack of vocal range and breath. Then the song proceeds with a relaxed atmosphere until the end. Rating 7,5/8.

The sequence of the first side follows the present pattern from the debut album: 1) Avant-garde rock song with great sonic impact 2) Melodic ballad 3) Mighty epic ballad. If we compare "In The Court Of..." with "Larks", we note that as far as the first piece is concerned (21st Century Schizoid Man versus Larks' Tongues In Aspic, Part I), King Crimson show that they have evolved by changing sound but maintaining a very high sound quality; as regards the second and the third piece, "I Talk To The Wind" and "Epitaph" are much higher than "Book Of Dreams" and "Exiles", which however have the merit of keeping alive the new, unmistakable sound, and being melodically appreciable.

Side two opens with "Easy Money": as in "Ladies Of the Road", here KC let out their ironic part, the menacing sound has that grotesque implications rather than dramatic. It is a good song, perhaps the best after the initial suite, the last song where Wetton sings. But the track is only a frame for a guitar jam and percussion that takes up most of the piece: it does not happen often to listen to a solo Fripp. Rating 8. Starting from this record, the vocal part will remain, in the history of KC, increasingly minority (and weak) compared to the instrumental one. The song ends with laughter, reminiscent of those of Gordon Haskell after "Indoor Games" (in Lizard). From here on, the best inspired part of the album ends, which proceeds towards the final, dilating beyond a measure some rhythmic ideas and taking up the initial mini-suite.

The bass by Wetton is the main character of the tribal "The Talking Drum" (rating 7.5), which consists of a rhythmic progression then marked by the violin, and also by the guitar and the drums. It is a paroxysmal progression, almost an accelerated bolero, ending in some distressing screams that introduce "Larks' Tongue in Aspic, Part 2". In the passage between the two songs a remarkable pathos is reached. The Reprise is more rhythmic, supported than the initial minusuite, however it is also quite repetitive and does not add much respect to Part I. Personally, I am very demanding with the reprises of another piece: in my opinion they have to make essential contributions to the first piece, new atmospheres, variations on the theme (as the Beatles did with Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band Reprise), because otherwise they seem to be exercises of style and a filler to reach the length of the album. In this Reprise, very obsessive, the novelty is the almost dissonant sound of the violin, however, on the whole it can not be said that it is a piece that has its own musical autonomy compared to the initial minisuite. Rating 7,5/8.

Overall, "Larks' Tongues in Aspic" is a revolutionary album for the new sound that requires the progressive scene, but in terms of quality of the pieces, after the sensational start, it doesn't maintain the same, high level of the initial minuisuite, and It holds on a limited content of sound and melodic ideas, however unexceptionably developed. It is ultimately an almost masterpiece, like Lizard. In fact, in my personal ranking, this LP can be compared to Lizard, another album characterized by a revolutionary sound expressed especially in the suite, but that fails to maintain, at the level of compositions, the excellent quality standard of the sound and the conception of album, resulting in an almost masterpiece.

Medium quality of the songs: 7,75. Rating 8,5/9. Four (and a half) stars.

jamesbaldwin | 4/5 |

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