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

LARKS' TONGUES IN ASPIC

King Crimson

 

Eclectic Prog

4.42 | 2772 ratings

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Tylosand Ektorp
4 stars This is the album where the 70's era crimson coalesced into a monster progressive rock unit and Fripp finally got a semi-stable band with which to play: John Wetton on bass, vocals, Bill Bruford on drums, Jamie Muir on percussion and allsorts and the underated David Cross on violin and keyboards. Gone were the symphonic and jazz pretentions (if not the tonality and time signatures) of the previous incarnations. Gone were the romantic and sometimes embarrasingly overwrought lyrics of Pete Sinfield (he almost single handedly ruined their previous album Islands). With LTIA the Crims decided to become an avant-rock rather than a symphonic-rock band that could play intense and complex instumental workouts, a la Larks' Tongue in Aspic parts 1 and 2 and beautiful ballads such as Book of Saturday with equal facility. They truly redefined themselves and drastically changed their sound. The music of LTIA is much more personal, muscular and dark than that of the vast majority of their contemporaries and Crimsons' own previous work. For the first time since the original line-up Crimson sound like a band rather than the Robert Fripp project.

So why is this a flawed masterpiece? The studio versions of these excellent songs, while very good, are too polite, too measured, too thin sounding to rate a five star rating. Except for the drummers, the band sounds as if its holding something back. Fripps' guitar and Wettons' vocals sound somewhat subdued. If you listen to the Great Deciever live box set of this band (minus percussionist Jaimie Muir) or the Nightwatch you'll hear what I'm getting at. Live the band is one of the most amazing and powerful units of the progressive rock era, able to destoy listeners eardrums while massaging their craniums. On LTIA however, well they just don't go as far as they should in terms of passion. For example on LTIA Fripp is a very good guitarist with a unique style, live he's one of the best rock guitarists in the world. Likewise the entire band. Their ability to perform group improvisations is uncanny, but not heard on LTIA. Perhaps Crimsons' live prowess was the reason why two thirds of Crimsons' next album Starless and Bible Black was recorded at the Amsterdam Concertgebou and Glasgow with the audience edited out (The original Concertgebou concert can be heard on the Nightwatch CD). That LTIA is a milestone for the band is true, its just that it could have been otherworldly rather than merely excellent.

Tylosand Ektorp | 4/5 |

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