Wednesday, July 28, 2010

King Crimson - Larks' Tongues in Aspic

7/10

Lark's Tongues in Aspic has too much instrumental noodling on it. It doesn't come in doses quite as big as the infamous free jazz sequence on Moonchild, but it's common enough that it gets pretty annoying. Even the non-instrumental song "Book of Saturday" has a weird, tossed-off quality that I dislike. People who complain about prog songs taking forever to get started aren't going to have their minds changed by this album- Larks Tongues Pt. 1 and The Talking Drum are the big offenders here.
However, there's plenty of good stuff here as well. Fripp formed a completely new lineup, featuring John Wetton (most famously of Asia, but who was in about a million other bands) on bass and vocals, Bill Bruford of Yes on drums, David Cross on violin, and Jamie Muir on assorted percussion. The latter two aren't always used well (some of the violin and weird percussion noises just sound like the band was just throwing crap at the wall), but at other times, they're amazingly effective (Cross does a great job complementing Fripp in The Talking Drum). I also like Wetton's vocals a lot- he's not a great singer by any stretch of the imagination, but his voice has loads of personality (it's a shame that he would sound generic as hell by the time Asia formed).
Larks' Tongues in Aspic is one of those albums where one just has to appreciate how much experimentation is going on. There are some parts that just don't work, but the albums highs are good enough to make it a worthwhile experience.

3 comments:

  1. I have always thought of Larks' Tongues as one of the two 10/10 albums in the Crimson discography.

    But--the fact that you like it, while I REALLY like it being put aside--I think what's remarkable about Larks is how it so radically transforms the bands' sound. Court and Poseidon make a natural pair. Lizard and Islands go together as well; but you can see a continuum from the first two to the next couple. Larks' goes with Starless and Red after itself, but there is really very little relation between the first four and the fifth.

    It really is a total reinvention of the sound: louder when it's loud, softer when it's soft (and you hadn't thought that was possible, had you?), noisier, more "world"ly. The mellotron is (for the most part or totally?) gone, the vocals are back to being worthwhile, the violin is being used as a solo voice in a way not attempted previously, etc., etc.

    It's Fripp rearranging everything according to his vision, shuffling instruments, players, and it sounds like nothing he'd done before. That alone is remarkable; the fact that I think it a masterpiece is almost besides the point.

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  2. I was inspired to start this blog after following Mark Prindle's site; like him, I only give out one 10 rating per band. I definitely would've given a 10 to Court if I allowed more than one even despite the existence of Moonchild.

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  3. Ummm.... I always thot this album was too TREBLY, too screechy. Maybe it's my stereo?
    Tho I really like "The Talking Drum," mosta the pieces here sound WAY better on the GREAT DECEIVER box set -- there they have the power and majesty Fripp seemed to be aiming 4. Both the "Larks" pieces & "Talking Drum" R knockouts on the live box.
    However, I like "Book of Saturdays" & the smooth & moody "Exiles," & 4 a long time my fave part of this album was the bump&grind of "Easy Money," especially from the last go-round of the verse until the payoff at the end.
    I just thot this album was mixed badly. Lost all its power in the trebly mix. But maybe it's just me.... -- TAD.

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