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Old 03-15-2009, 03:51 AM   #41 (permalink)
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LARKS' TONGUES IN ASPIC (1973)
  • Robert Fripp - Guitar, Mellotron, Electric Piano, Other
  • John Wetton - Bass, Lead Vocals, Acoustic Piano
  • David Cross - Violin, Viola, Mellotron, Flute, Electric Piano
  • Bill Bruford – Drums
  • Jamie Muir - Percussion, Allsorts
  • Richard Palmer-James - Lyrics





PROLOGUE


After Islands, Robert Fripp completely revamped the King Crimson lineup and came up with something somewhat stable. John Wetton was a huge improvement over Boz Burrell in the bass and vocal departments, prog's granddaddy drummer, Bill Bruford, came over from Yes and David Cross joined as KC's first violinist. Jamie Muir provided additional percussion and in the course of this album, greatly influenced Bruford's drumming style.

Larks' Tongues in Aspic is the result of King Crimson getting back on track and crafting a masterpiece. Owing to the triumvirate of Wetton, Bruford and Muir, LTIA is far more rhythmically focused than any of their previous albums, and David Cross on violin plays a fairly large role. In this album, King Crimson explores proto-metal and they're back to their old tricks with the avant-garde tendencies. It is fair to call parts of this the first prog-metal ever recorded but don't let that put you off.



TRACK-BY-TRACK


01 - Larks' Tongues in Aspic, Part I:
The album opens with a delicate marimba intro, but most seasoned KC listeners would know that despite its dainty innocent nature, there is something far more sinister and menacing lingering beneath. As it segues into a chilling violin section, it's clear there is a storm brewing and it isn't long before the song explodes into a cacophony of squealing Frippian leads, calculated guitar riffs and precise percussion. This gives way to an ambient violin section which is perhaps a bit longer than it should be (and better executed later on with Providence) - I find that this is the only weak point in the whole album. Just as the song appears to pick up, it is almost as quickly anesthetized.

02 - Book of Saturday:
Here, KC takes a completely different direction. Book of Saturday is also dainty and innocent, but it stays that way. It's a short jazzy song featuring Fripp's bright chords and backwards guitar effects over Wetton's contemplative bassline. It is striking just how personal and introspective it sounds.

03 - Exiles:
Exiles is in my opinion, the prettiest song King Crimson has ever written. Fripp's intricate acoustic work weaves in and out from Cross' poignant violin/mellotron theme and it's amazing how deeply intertwined all the instruments are. The song overall is highly expressive and evocative, uplifting with a hint of melancholy. The highlight for me is Fripp's fluid guitar solo which simply floats over the top towards the end of the song. I won't ramble any longer, it needs to be heard to be believed.

04 - Easy Money:
With its groovy bassline, sparse funky guitar licks and derogatory swagger, Easy Money is reminiscent of Ladies of the Road from Islands. It is certainly the most jam-oriented song on the album as it goes from a heavy rocker to a Frippfest. Most definitely a fun track.

05 - The Talking Drum:
The Talking Drum is a great climactic build-up of sorts with the hypnotic rhythm of Wetton, Bruford and Muir as the basis. Muir's conga drumming and Cross' violin antics give it an exotic feel which is perhaps better conveyed in live versions. The song goes into overdrive and grows louder and more frantic until Mr. Fripp snaps his finger and you break out of the trance ending up face down on the pavement.

06 - Larks' Tongues in Aspic, Part II:
Like the first part of this suite, the second part is dark, chaotic and intense. It delivers its payload in the form of unforgivingly obtuse metallic guitar riffs, pounding bass, squealing violin and exhilarating electric madness. I liken it to a blindfolded rollercoaster ride where the carriage continually ascends and your anticipation grows and grows while you're on the edge of your seat waiting for the plunge.



EPILOGUE


Larks' Tongues in Aspic is considered by a sizeable portion of fans to be their magnum opus although I personally prefer Red and Lizard. Nevertheless, it is a stellar album which represents yet another facet of King Crimson's musical exploration and innovation. They did not invent metal with this album, but they fused prog and metal, and most metal bands can only wish their music was as heavy and intense as some of the music here. Throughout its duration, LTIA is very consistent and instrumentally tight - in fact, the only change I would have is Greg Lake doing vocals on tracks like Book of Saturday and Exiles and there is only one weak point in the entire album.

9/10
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Old 03-15-2009, 09:05 AM   #42 (permalink)
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I'm going to have to be getting this, heavy and intense KC is all good in my book.
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Old 03-15-2009, 01:58 PM   #43 (permalink)
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Great review Seltzer. Easy Money is such a groovy track as you say but I have only heard this album 3 or 4 times. I need to listen a lot more I think.
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Old 03-16-2009, 11:30 AM   #44 (permalink)
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I enjoy reading all your reviews! Had to take this out for a listen after reading through this. I must say, sometimes I fail to notice details such as this.
Quote:
The highlight for me is Fripp's fluid guitar solo which simply floats over the top towards the end of the song. I won't ramble any longer, it needs to be heard to be believed.
Can't wait for your Red review .
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Old 03-18-2009, 01:18 AM   #45 (permalink)
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Nice concise review of my second/third favourite KC (like you Red just about pips it for me). I'm sure I read somewhere that all the lyrics were written by a friend of the band, who discussed lyrical concepts with Fripp then he'd just write them. Always intrigued me how R.F. always seemed to maintain a distance from the band yet ran it so tightly, great bandleader and ultimately I guess he is King Crimson.

I have never heard Lizard Seltzer but as you prefer it to this I'll have to rectify!
And I see you're listening to Arthur on last.fm
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Old 03-21-2009, 11:51 PM   #46 (permalink)
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Haha yes, I'm looking quite forward to reviewing Red but that'll be a little while away - I have 2 weeks until my mid-semester break.

I believe Fripp has only ever written lyrics for one KC song (the Great Deceiver). Peter Sinfield was hired as their full time lyricist through his friendship with Ian McDonald, then Richard Palmer-James through John Wetton and later on, Adrian Belew took the reins.

Lizard is great and fairly overlooked too. I'd say it was a bit of a risky departure in sound, even by KC standards.


Anyway, I'm trying to condense the reviews a bit more nowadays - I might even move away from the track-by-track format in later reviews.
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Old 04-01-2009, 03:07 PM   #47 (permalink)
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I love Three of a Perfect Pair
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Old 04-01-2009, 07:05 PM   #48 (permalink)
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I really dig "Three of a Perfect Pair", "In the Court of the Crimson King", "Indiscipline", "Happy With What You Have to be Happy With", "Sleepless", and "Thela Hun Ginjeet".

The only album I own is Cirkus - A Young Person's guide to King Crimson.

Any other recommendations, please PM me.
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Old 04-01-2009, 09:15 PM   #49 (permalink)
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20th century schizoid man. duh.
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Old 04-02-2009, 06:47 AM   #50 (permalink)
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An enjoyable read!
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