King Crimson

Larks' Tongues in Aspic, Pt. II

Composed by Robert Fripp / Richard Palmer-James

Song Review by

The arithmetical "Larks' Tongues in Aspic" has garnered a copious legacy in the King Crimson canon, which not only spread over four decades (1970s-2000s) but also spawned five separate movements performed by four different incarnations of the band. The quintet of Bill Bruford (percussion), David Cross (violin), Robert Fripp (guitar), Jamie Muir (percussion), and John Wetton animate the original title, which was adapted from a Dadaist musing from Muir. "Larks' Tongues in Aspic" became the title for the album as well as the instrumental "Part 1" and "Part 2" which bookend the long-player.

The opening sequence is multi-layered and textured -- sounding more like a medley of several shorter works -- commencing with the childlike strains of the kalimba (aka African thumb piano), which is pierced by sonically dense lines from Fripp and Cross. The spoken dialogue is reminiscent of the BBC broadcast featuring William Shakespeare's King Lear -- act four, scene six, lines 249-259 -- which was incorporated into the Beatles' "I Am the Walrus." The middle section of "Larks' Tongues in Aspic" contains dialogue from the Malley play Gallowglass which had been lifted by Bruford from the radio.

By contrast, "Part Two" is a full-tilt aggressive rocker and remained as a performance staple well into the mid-'90s version of the group. One of the more impressive readings can be found On Broadway -- a double-disc edition of the King Crimson collectors' club.