Today’s Prog Rock Sunday features the fantastic and innovative talents of King Crimson. King Crimson of the 1970s centered on Robert Fripp, and had a revolving door of support players. By 1973’s “Lark’s Tongue in Aspic”, the line-up had almost solidified with the addition of drummer Bill Bruford, singer/bassist John Wetton, percussionist Jamie Muir, and violinist David Cross.
“Lark’s Tongue” is a masterpiece of controlled jamming and composed improvisation (if any of that makes sense). Essentially, the band jammed songs into creation, and then Fripp would allow Wetton to sing over some of them. It was also a period in which Fripp began his experiments in distortion, dissonance, and soundscapes.
My two favorite tracks are the final two; “The Talking Drum”, and “Lark’s Tongue in Aspic (Part Two)”, which are both instrumentals (I’m not really a fan of Wetton).
“The Talking Drum” starts off almost inaudible, and then builds at a frustratingly slow rate, finally reaching full volume at its end. It is centered on a drum and bass groove that has violin and guitar solos weaving in and out of that groove. The gradual build-up adds a sort of tension to the groove before releasing into its full potential. Then, with shrieking feedback, it explodes directly into “Lark’s Tongue in Aspic (Part Two).”
“Lark’s Tongue in Aspic (Part Two)” is a brilliantly composed piece that varies in moods and tones. It is a sort of precursor to a lot of Heavy Metal in the 1980s, with its distortion and multiple sections. Think of Metallica during the “Master of Puppets” era, or early Megadeath. “Lark’s Tongue” is not nearly as heavy, but you will hear its influence.
I find that I enjoy later versions with Adrian Belew on second guitar than I do with the violin, but the original is still brilliant. The two songs are jazzy, distorted, and definitely Progressive. I hope you enjoy them.
By-the-way, I had hoped to find a single video with both songs, since I see them as interconnected, but I had to settle for two separate videos. Again, be patient with “The Talking Drum”, as it is almost inaudible for the first couple minutes.