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Starless and Bible Black
King Crimson

Island ILPS 9275
Released: April 1974
Chart Peak: #64
Weeks Charted: 11

Bill BrufordDavid CrossJohn WettonRobert FrippJust 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-soloist that Fripp needed to give variety to the band's sound.

King Crimson - Starless and Bible Black
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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 balace 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, Rolling Stone, 6/6/74.

Bonus Reviews!

Bob Fripp and his band know more ways to be intelligent, dead serious, and fairly boring than anybody I know save for the Master of Musical Monotony himself, John McLaughlin. David Cross may well be the outstanding member of this group as he's the least competent on his instrument (violin), but all the others play their instruments with a same degree of technical proficiency. "The Great Deceiver" is the best and most interesting track on the album; in fact it may be the only listenable song produced by this King Crimson to date, but one good apple don't spoil the whole bunch.

- Jon Tiven, Circus Raves, 9/74.

This is as close as this chronically interesting group has ever come to a good album, or maybe it's as close as Robert Fripp ever come to dominating this chronically interesting group. As usual, things improve markedly when nobody's singing. The lyrics are relatively sharp, but there must be better ways of proving you're not a wimp than castng invective at a "health-food faggot." Unless you are a wimp, that is. B

- Robert Christgau, Christgau's Record Guide, 1981.

An intriguing follow-up to 1973's Larks' Tongues in Aspic, and overall the band's most satisfying album. * * * *

- Bruce Eder, The All-Music Guide to Rock, 1995.

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