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King Crimson

Starless and Bible Black

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Just as they were about to be classed among the living relics, Robert Fripp and friends have returned from a lengthy creative hiatus with an inventive new album. They've taken the disjointed pieces of Larks' Tongues in Aspic, infused them with some life, and woven them into a package as stunningly powerful as In the Court of the Crimson King, the LP that launched "mellotron rock."

Crimson displays a certain confidence here that hasn't before graced its efforts. William Bruford's multifaceted percussive offerings are particularly impressive in this light — he's finally mastered his distinctively eclectic style. David Cross's violin and viola are woven into the Crimson tapestry far more effectively than before, adding the counter-solist that Fripp needed to give variety to the band's sound.

The material relies on instrumental interaction, with Crimson now intent on exploring some of the frontiers charted by Yes. "The Great Deceiver" rocks out almost as maniacally as did "21st Century Schizoid Man," showing that where Yes would marvel at the world, Crimson prefers to grab it by the balls. But with "Trio" Crimson demonstrates that it's capable of maintaining the balance between aggression and introspection, using the juxtaposition of viola and mellotron-flute tape to evoke a hauntingly blissful serenity.

The two lengthy instrumental passages that comprise Side Two of Starless and Bible Black show Crimson at its best, relaxing into lengthy improvisational patterns that spotlight the virtuosity of each member. The ease with which these moves are carried off indicates that Fripp has finally assembled the band of his dreams — hopefully it'll stay together long enough to continue producing albums as excellent as this one.

GORDON FLETCHER

(Posted: Jun 6, 1974)

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