KING CRIMSON — Larks' Tongues In Aspic

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Album · 1973

Filed under Proto-Metal
By KING CRIMSON

Tracklist

1. Larks' Tongues In Aspic Part One (13:37)
2. Book Of Saturday (2:56)
3. Exiles (7:42)
4. Easy Money (7:54)
5. The Talking Drum (7:26)
6. Larks' Tongues In Aspic Part Two (7:08)

Total Time 46:44

Line-up/Musicians

- Bill Bruford / drums
- David Cross / violin, viola, Mellotron
- Robert Fripp / guitar, Mellotron, devices
- Jamie Muir / percussion
- John Wetton / bass, vocals

About this release

March 23, 1973
Island

Reissued as 40th Anniversary Edition with the following tracklist:

Disc 1: Cd

1. Larks' Tongues In Aspic Part One (2012 Stereo Mix) (13:37)
2. Book Of Saturday (2012 Stereo Mix) (2:56)
3. Exiles (2012 Stereo Mix) (7:42)
4. Easy Money (2012 Stereo Mix) (7:54)
5. The Talking Drum (2012 Stereo Mix) (7:26)
6. Larks' Tongues In Aspic Part Two (2012 Stereo Mix) (7:08)
7. Larks' Tongues In Aspic (Part I) (Alternate Mix) (11:14)
8. Book Of Saturday (Alternate Take) (2:56)
9. The Talking Drum (Alternate Mix) (6:58)

Disc 2: Dvd-Audio

2012 Surround Mix

1. Larks' Tongues In Aspic Part One (13:37)
2. Book Of Saturday (2:56)
3. Exiles (7:42)
4. Easy Money (7:54)
5. The Talking Drum (7:26)
6. Larks' Tongues In Aspic Part Two (7:08)

2012 Stereo Mix

7. Larks' Tongues In Aspic Part One (13:37)
8. Book Of Saturday (2:56)
9. Exiles (7:42)
10. Easy Money (7:54)
11. The Talking Drum (7:26)
12. Larks' Tongues In Aspic Part Two (7:08)

Original Album Mix Remaster 2004

13. Larks' Tongues In Aspic Part One (13:37)
14. Book Of Saturday (2:56)
15. Exiles (7:42)
16. Easy Money (7:54)
17. The Talking Drum (7:26)
18. Larks' Tongues In Aspic Part Two (7:08)

Alternate Takes And Mixes

19. Larks' Tongues In Aspic (Part I) (Alternate Mix)
20. Book Of Saturday (Alternate Take)
21. Exiles (Alternate Mix)
23. Easy Money (Jamie Muir Solo)
24. The Talking Drum (Alternate Mix)
25. Larks' Tongues In Aspic (Part II) (Alternate Mix)
26. Easy Money (Alternate Take)

Video Content (Live In The Studio, Bremen)

27. Improv: The Rich Tapestry Of Life
28. Exiles
29. Larks' Tongues In Aspic (Part I)
30. Larks' Tongues In Aspic (Part I) (As Broadcast On Beat Club)

Thanks to andyman1125, Pekka, Lynx33, adg211288 for the updates

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KING CRIMSON LARKS' TONGUES IN ASPIC reviews

Specialists/collaborators reviews

siLLy puPPy
There are many existential quandaries that the universe teases us with on a daily basis so it can be quite unnerving when your favorite musical artists create some more for you! I speak of KING CRIMSON’s lauded fifth album LARKS’ TONGUES IN ASPIC. If you were like me upon first exposure to this eccentric and innovative album then you were wondering what in the world is ASPIC? Well, culinary types may know the answer but in reality the word has two actual meanings. Firstly it is a clear jelly typically made of stock and gelatin and used as a glaze or garnish or to make a mold of meat, fish, or vegetables and secondly we have to put on our botanist’s cap to realize that is either of two species of lavender, Lavandula spica or L. latifolia, that yield an oil used in perfumery. So which of these does this bizarre title refer to? I am eternally striving to figure this out but i digress before i even start.

KING CRIMSON is one of the most revered bands in all of the progressive rock playbook and one of the reasons why this band could do no wrong for many during the first leg of this band’s career is that Robert Fripp and whomever he was collaborating with would consistently crank out one album after another with little or nothing in common. One of the biggest reasons for this is that the lineup changed often and as a result pretty much every album in the beginning featured a completely different musical cast and Fripp as the de facto band leader wisely molded any particular album’s thematic underpinnings to the strengths of whichever cast members were in the KING CRIMSON show at any given moment. While members came and went since the debut “In The Court Of The Crimson King,” the band completely melted down after 1971’s “Islands” leaving only Fripp to carry on the name and create a new band from scratch.

Fripp was a magnet for talent and had no problem recruiting a new batch of veritable prog stalwarts eager to play with the already legendary band that single handedly launched the big bang of prog in 1969 with the lauded debut. The lineup that appeared on LARKS’ TONGUES IN ASPIC would result in being a wise choice as it would prove to be a fairly stable lineup until the band’s first dissolution after “Red.” Bassist / vocalist John Wetton joined the team after having previously played with Mogul Thrash, Gordon Haskell and Family. Violinist David Cross made his debut here and fresh out of Yes, drummer Bill Buford found a new home in one of prog’s early powerhouses adding his extraordinary drumming talents and taking KC into new music territories. Also joining ranks was percussionist Jamie Muir of The Music Improvisation Company projects (with Evan Parker, Derek Bailey and Hugh Davies) who only played on this one album. While the only one of the team who didn’t continue on with KC, it was his interest becoming a Bhuddist monk that led him to leave the music world for a monastic lifestyle.

For once Fripp took a little more time to craft the next phase of the KC’s career. After stuffing four extremely demanding albums into a three year timespan, Fripp was more than ready to take a deep breath and plan the next move carefully. The new incarnation of the band crafted yet another masterful album that got back to the band’s progressive rock origin’s after “Islands” ethereal space music. LARKS’ TONGUES IN ASPIC may have been more rockin’ but still as eclectic as ever with lots of inspiration of both Easter and Western European classical traditions, jazz and free improvisation. LARKS’ TONGUE is also unique in that it has two full time percussionists with Bill Bruford handling drums, timbales, cowbells and wood blocks and Muir adding different styles of ethnic percussion and a wealth of assorted items not normally associated with music. The result was an interesting mix of more accessible elements mixed with avant-garde strangeness much like the debut album.

The original release of LARKS’ TONGUE IN ASPIC consisted of only six tracks with the opener and closer creating a two part suite of sorts that was interrupted by the creamy filling in between. The two title tracks would ultimately continue on to other albums. “Part III” would emerge on “Three of a Perfect Pair” and “Part IV” on “The Construction of Light.” “Part I,” the longest track on the album is the most intense as well as it starts with a series of metallic clangs and what sounds like those wind chimes before the track shifts into a series of varied passages that showcase Robert Fripp’s angular guitar antics along with David Cross’s virtuosic violin playing. While the many shades of percussion are many, the driving force of both parts is clearly the heavy metal guitar riffing that provides a groove to latch onto before Fripp dives headfirst into the world of avant-prog weirdness. Another thing i have noticed about the LARKS’ suites is how the main percussive drive seems to have inspired the modern day drumming style of sludge metal with its sparse percussive bombast that punctuates certain rhythmic timings.

The mid-section is just as varied as the title track suites themselves. Of the four tracks, John Wetton provides vocals on “Book of Saturday,” “Exiles” and “Easy Money.” The first track which is perhaps the most accessible track with an easy to follow vocal melody backed up by jazzy psychedelic meandering but obviously crafted into some sort of avant-groove. “Exiles” while starting out in the clouds and venturing through murky atmospheric turbulence ultimately lands and creates another vocal led number that alternates with the orchestrated space effects. In some ways, this track is the only track that resembles what appeared on the preceding “Islands.” The track “Easy Money” bursts out some of the best guitar tones in the entire KC canon with grungy hisses emerging in fully distorted power chords while Wetton does some sort of vocal dance around the pounding bass and heavy percussive drive. The track which is about the antics of a snake oil salesman finds a way to incorporate a funky rock beat within a greater jazzified complexity with somewhat lighthearted lyrics that keep the album from drowning in darkness. In all honesty, the vocal tracks have always proved less compelling but add the human touches to keep this album from drifting out into space.

My favorite track has to be the excellently packaged “The Talking Drum” which masterfully weaves together tribal percussion with Eastern violins and a mean dirty avant-counterpoint of the guitar that dances around the dominant groove which hypnotically ratchets up the tension with a frenzy of sounds growing ever louder until the track merges with the second LARKS’ TONGUE suite that takes the album out with a bombastic metal guitar, screeching violin and incessantly caffeinated percussion that climaxes in a purely cacophonous din. Wow. What did i just hear? This album is not the easiest listen for sure. In fact it’s taken a long time for me to appreciate it. While some tracks stood out at first, others took their sweet time gestating in my soul but after a ridiculous number of listens, the complexities of KC started to settle and make themselves at home in the musical rolodex in my mind. This is a very weird and charming album to say the least. Inspirational for jazz, metal, prog and the avant-garde noise rock bands to come. Fripp had already shown his true genius at this stage but on LARKS’ TONGUES IN ASPIC he clearly showed that there were no limits in its sheer magnanimous nature. Jelly or lavender? I still don’t know. Knowing Fripp and his KC project, it will remain an eternal mystery just like how this album came to be. Maybe the LARKS know.
Warthur
After the end of the Islands tour, Robert Fripp was once again left with the task of reconstructing King Crimson's lineup from scratch. However, rather than continue down the path of trying to produce a symphonic followup worthy of In the Court of the Crimson King, Fripp took the more daring approach: he wouldn't just create a new lineup, he'd break down and rebuild what it meant to be King Crimson from the ground up.

In the Court of the Crimson King kickstarted a new genre of progressive rock and was immediately embraced by the prog community, who soon took its lessons to heart. Larks' Tongues In Aspic comes up with its own genre yet again, and decades later the rest of the prog world still hasn't caught up to it, except for perhaps a few bands right on the cutting edge of Heavy Prog or math rock/post-rock. With angular rhythms, avant-garde percussion, Bill Bruford unleashed to try out jazzy chops that had been suppressed in Yes, John Wetton providing the best vocals and basswork on a King Crimson album since Greg Lake left, David Cross adding a plaintive and enigmatic violin to the proceedings, and Fripp laying down some of the angriest and heaviest riffs seen on a rock album to date, the album introduces the mid-1970s Crimson lineup (around the rock-solid core of Wetton, Fripp and Bruford) with a true tour de force.

Easily the best King Crimson album since their debut, this is the album which reinvented the band, and in doing so reinvented rock music altogether, and it still yields secrets with repeated listens to this day. If you only like symphonic prog and have no love for the heavier, more avant-garde, or even (dare I say it) RIO-ish end of prog, maybe this isn't for you, but otherwise if you like King Crimson, you need this album. Like In the Court of the Crimson King and Discipline, it's one of the key puzzle pieces that's essential to putting the picture together; if you don't taste the Aspic, you don't know King Crimson.

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