Saturday, March 23, 2013

larks' tongues in aspic











King Crimson emerged in their third incarnation with the heavy metal jazz fusion, ambient folk, and psychedelic pyromancy of this experimental consomm√©. 'Larks' Tongues in Aspic' was produced by King Crimson at Command Studios in London with Robert Fripp on guitars, Mellotron, devices, and electric piano; John Wetton on bass, lead vocals, and acoustic piano; Bill Bruford on drums; David Cross on violin, viola, Mellotron, flute, and electric piano; and Jamie Muir on percussion.  


Fripp remembers the reasons behind the new lineup:     “The reason King Crimson had had so many members over the past few years is simple instability. You might take that to infer that I’m unstable, but most people would disagree with you...myself included.  I am very fascinated in a way musicians work together as a unit. You see, I view King Crimson as the microcosm of the macrocosm. If one can’t operate successfully with three other musicians, it stands to reason that one would find it difficult to work well in a larger unit.  I form bands, but I’m not a leader. There are far more subtle ways of influencing people and getting things done than being a band leader, it’s not a function I cherish. Who needs it?...The time was spent preparing for the present, I suppose.  This band is right for the present, just as the first band was right for its own time. The interim period was something I wouldn’t want to undergo again.”

Fripp brought in percussionist Jamie Muir to join his new formation:     “I had been hearing of Jamie Muir for several years with remarkable frequency.  I knew it was inevitable that one day I would work with him. When I finally phoned him up, we talked as if we’d known each other for a long time. He expected to be in King Crimson and had been waiting for my call.”

Muir reveals:     "Robert Fripp was looking for a new band and I got a 'phone call from him. I think it was Richard Williams from Melody Maker who suggested me to him. I was rehearsing with Alan Gowen and others at the time. They were rather upset with me for leaving, actually...King Crimson were the only really famous band I'd been in. Fripp was open and believed very much in getting disparate musical elements together, a mixture to produce interesting music, although this was difficult to hold together as the history of King Crimson would suggest. When we rehearsed, we thrashed about and tried to make things work in an improvisational way in the studio. Fripp was definitely the boss, there's no question about it. And that was fine, he seemed to me to be a very good band leader. I think I was a wee bit too much for him, simply because I was so involved in improvisation. He was very much concerned with logic and function, he always worked his solos out before playing them. He had very fastidious and tight sort of habits. We did a tour and recorded the "Larks' Tongues in Aspic" album. It was very difficult to get that sort of improvisation on record. We were interested in group potential and creating monstrous power in music. Where I started playing drums on the album should have been a lot wilder - sheets of tin rattling and ripping, piles of crockery breaking, those sorts of sounds. One or two things that Robert would have found just too much. For a person like him it was a very admirable creative decision to actually work with somebody like me. Touring with King Crimson wasn't a lot of fun for me. I had a lot of equipment, and when I was in improvised music I'd set it up myself, play the gig, and put it all away again. With King Crimson the drum roadie would start to complain bitterly and get shirty because of the problems of setting it up and putting it back down again. We had difficulty getting together a road team that was any good. Another major thing I remember was trying to get the percussion audible at rock concerts, because percussion was not miked up by direct injection. I've seen this at so many gigs and it can be really sound destroying. Bill Bruford and I got on very well together musically it seemed to me. He was a solid, tight, thinking studio type and I was very much into doing imaginative odd things...The reasons why I left were to do with my interest in Buddhism. There were experiences over a period of about six months which caused me to decide to give up music, so one morning I felt I had to go to E.G. management and tell them. It was difficult of course, a whole year of tours had just been lined up. I cleared my house and went up to a Tibetan monastry in Scotland, became a monk and took the robes. I didn't feel too happy about letting people down, but this was something I had to do or else it would have been a source of deep regret for the rest of my life. I did a lot of meditating - which is more active than some people seem to think - and spent a lot of time in retreat." 

Bill Bruford left working with Yes to become a part of King Crimson:    “It was my desire to progress that led me to join this band.  I had played with the same musicians for four years, and that’s quite enough for any young musician.  There were a number of levels on which I decided to leave Yes and join Crimson, none of which...were born out of pure fantasy...I’m an exceedingly logical person, and it was entirely logical to me that I should move on. I’ve been very happy I’ve done so, too...It’s too bad that Jamie doesn’t want to be a musician anymore, but it doesn’t matter. I’m sure his contribution to the world will be as good, if not greater. It just doesn’t matter to Jamie. He’ll make a mark. He’ll alter things.  The nature of his leaving was extraordinary. We were playing two nights at the Marquee Club in London, which were dates we booked for pure enjoyment and relaxation away from the very tense situation we were in. Jamie’s entirely experimental percussion work was causing all of us to get on each other’s back during Larks Tongues sessions. The sessions were exasperating; they took an awfully long time. Although they were eventually gratifying, it took an enormous amount of the band’s time and energy. All four of us were intent on keeping Jamie in a creative spirit.  So the first night at the Marquee everything went fine until Jamie dropped a gong on his foot. The following night Jamie didn’t show up at the sound check; his foot had become very swollen and he couldn’t make the show. I immediately assumed the show would be canceled because I thought Jamie was too fundamental to the band. Everybody else in the band wanted to go ahead and play that night, though, so we did. I was very nervous. I had been depending enormously on Jamie and couldn’t quite grasp the possibility of playing without him. I didn’t like the show that night, but the others assured me it was fine.  Robert will tell you it was no coincidence that Jamie didn’t show up that night. He would explain it in terms of a magical event...that Jamie wasn’t there for a reason and the reason was that it was required we play as a quartet. We didn’t have any more dates after that one and Jamie left soon after that night. We’ve been a quartet ever since.”


Wetton reflects:     "I’ve known Robert since I was about 16, 15 or 16...And our paths had crossed a lot, in our hometown...About halfway through my stint with Family, I got a phone call from Robert Fripp, who was, I think he was in Exodus at that time. They were just on a British tour with the, Ian was, and Mel, the Islands tour...And he asked me if I was interested in joining them. And really, I think he was calling for help. That he wanted someone like-minded to come in and just move the balance slightly toward his side...Which I felt that then I was being asked for the wrong reasons, and that I didn’t particularly, I wouldn’t fit in with that lot anyway. It wasn’t really my cup of tea...I’m not saying that Crimson wasn’t hard work, it was. But it was very enjoyable and very exciting...I don’t know, I think we created a concept album without setting out to do so. That’s what it seems like to me. Out of these rehearsals, it’s the thing with every band. You know, you go into the rehearsal room, or you sit down with a tape recorder, and basically, a couple of guys got some ideas, and a couple of guys sat around. And in this case, four or five guys got ideas. And there was, like Fripp and I had the more formal rock training, if you like, backed up with a bit of classical stuff. Bill, you know, was leaning more toward, listening to a lot of jazz at that time. And David came from a completely classical background. So he, I think, by his own admission, he felt a little at sea, he was just suddenly faced with guys who were quite seasoned, amplified players.I don’t know, I think we created a concept album without setting out to do so. That’s what it seems like to me. Out of these rehearsals, it’s the thing with every band. You know, you go into the rehearsal room, or you sit down with a tape recorder, and basically, a couple of guys got some ideas, and a couple of guys sat around. And in this case, four or five guys got ideas. And there was, like Fripp and I had the more formal rock training, if you like, backed up with a bit of classical stuff. Bill, you know, was leaning more toward, listening to a lot of jazz at that time. And David came from a completely classical background. So he, I think, by his own admission, he felt a little at sea, he was just suddenly faced with guys who were quite seasoned, amplified players."




Palmer-James was brought in as lyricist:     "I wasn't living in London then, but in Germany, where I live till today. And I was communicating with the group via John mainly. I received from him the tapes with very rough versions of the pieces, which later was on the album 'Larks' Tongues In Aspic'. And I was writing the lyrics for them for a few weeks. And not before all the songs were recorded I had an occasion to talk about the fruit of my work with Robert Fripp." 

'Larks' Tongues in Aspic' charted at number sixty-one in the US, fifty-six in Canada, and number twenty in the UK.  Fripp considered at the time:   “I’m not really interested in music; music is just a means of creating a magical state...One employs magic every day. Every thought or act is a magical act. You don’t sit down and work spells and all that hokey stuff. It’s simply experimentation with different states of consciousness and mind control...That’s your key to the core of the band. King Crimson, you see, is a magical act...Every act or thought is a magical act...It’s that as well. I’m not interested in being pegged down with narrow definitions. I’m not interested in defining anything too closely. As soon as one defines, one limits. I don’t want to limit what King Crimson is. I’d rather use some vague terms and let you do the thinking."







'Larks' Tongues in Aspic' 
full album:





Side one
1. "Larks' Tongues in Aspic, Part One" (Instrumental) David Cross, Robert Fripp, John Wetton, Bill Bruford, Jamie Muir 13:36
2. "Book of Saturday" Fripp, Wetton, Richard Palmer-James 2:53
3. "Exiles" Cross, Fripp, Wetton, Palmer-James 7:40
Side two
4. "Easy Money" Fripp, Wetton, Palmer-James 7:54
5. "The Talking Drum" (Instrumental) Cross, Fripp, Wetton, Bruford, Muir 7:26
6. "Larks' Tongues in Aspic, Part Two" (Instrumental) Fripp 7:07







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