In 1973, King Crimson released one of the most eruptive and powerful albums to come out of their golden-era when they released, Larks’ Tongues in Aspic. It’s considered among fans the finest album to date and the best reissue to come out this year that is part of King Crimson 40th anniversary reissues since their announcement back in 2009. It’s the album that let the band to go into different territories and it was also a chance for Robert Fripp to let the band members to go exploring in other areas and do whatever they want and see where the road will take them into.
Different marks and new members would become the turning point from the history of King Crimson’s music. After the release of Islands back in 1971 and after a tour in the states promoting the album in ’72 while Burrell, Collins, and Wallace joined up with Alexis Korner forming Snape, and lyricist/co-founder of King Crimson, Pete Sinfield left the band to work as a producer on Roxy Music’s sole self-titled debut album. Fripp now had complete control and brought in new members including Bill Bruford of Yes on Drums, Jamie Muir on percussion, John Wetton of Family on Bass and Lead Vocals, and violinist/mellotronist, newcomer David Cross.
For Pete’s replacement, Robert brought Richard Palmer-James from his work with Supertramp to write the lyrics after he left the band due to tension between Hodgson and Davies. The music moved away from the fantasy-storytelling that was in the first four albums into an evil, terrorizing, and vicious jazz rock sound that had an eruptive roaring quality from a Horror film that just came out of nowhere and would have the listener’s jaw dropping into unbelievable results. And every time I hear this album, it would send shivers and goosebumps down my spine in the way they played it and how they mean it.
The improvisations were there, right from the beginning of the first note. From Jamie Muir’s thumb piano introduction on Larks' Tongues in Aspic (Part One) that starts off as a moody lullaby, descends into chaos with Cross’ dramatic violin work and Fripp’s crunchy guitar work creates this monster-like sound between the two of them. And then it becomes an attack with terror as the band lend out a huge thunderstorm before it becomes a Funk Rock driven session between John’s bass work while the drummers Muir and Bruford just duel it out on the drumming exercise coming up with some crazy and exciting moments as Fripp comes up with some crazy and difficult guitar lines which are fast and mind-blowing at the same time.
Then it becomes a calm after the storm as the soothing Book of Saturday which deals with fame and how being center of attention can no longer be fun and games anymore as the soaring and uplifting touches on Exiles, has this lukewarm darker avant-garde turned gentle touches of a beautiful sunrise up into the mountains. Then, everything becomes a time-changing workout with the explosive Easy Money which begins with Tubular Bells, Mud-clapping rhythm, and John Wetton’s scat solo. Robert lays down the rules with some beautiful guitar lines that goes into unbelievable results as Muir creates some sound effects including crumbling paper, and birds whistling to name a few as the band come in full circle into a dynamic resemblance of The Mahavishnu Orchestra.
Then it’s The Talking Drum which has John Wetton and Bill Bruford in center stage. Beginning with a wind howling and almost like a Trumpet echoing out of nowhere as the two of them, going into car race to see who will win in the final battle. Muir is playing the Bongos like a mad scientist as Bruford and Wetton create this little haunting line between drums and bass as Cross creates this terrifying violin solo while the tension increasing into high volume as Fripp works out with some experiments on his guitar before it reaches one of the loudest noises of a high-pitch shriek of Cross’ violin screaming as if the monster has let loose and is ready for a full-scale attack to terrorize and kill the civilizations like no other as it segues into the climatic ending, Larks’ Tongues in Aspic (Part Two).
Inspired by Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending as a tribute and homage to the English composer, it has an evil riff between guitar and bass, stop-and-go responses, and an earthquake of a finale that will take you further into the outer limits. In the CD/DVD set, the liner notes are done by King Crimson expert Sid Smith who is now the Sherlock Holmes of Crimson’s history, and the album has been carefully re-mastered and re-mixed by Fripp himself and Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree.
The music itself is loud and powerful and seeing what was left buried in the multi-track and analog tapes including guitar lines and Muir crazy antics on the drums by using sheet metal, saw violin, whistle, etc. you name it and he was like a mad-man on the kit. On the DVD, there is an unseen performance of the band on Beat Club back in Bremen in 1972 and watching it, you could see creativity and magic behind the 5-piece. Now if you fancy the 13-CD/Blu-Ray/DVD set, I highly recommend it because there's more rare live performances and studio sessions during the making of the album including a downloadable code of the live Rainbow performance as well.
This is a must have for any Prog and Crimson fan to have underneath the Christmas tree and ask Santa if he’s a True Crimson fan.