This latest and arguably most anticipated remix of the early King Crimson albums is an exercise in wondrous excess. Remixed for 5.1 Surround Sound from the original studio masters by Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree), this CD contains a completely new stereo album mix by Robert Fripp & Steven Wilson, as well as three extra, previously unreleased, alternate takes/mixes. This includes a 5.1 mix, a High Resolution mix and with Blu-Ray players, an additional 5.1 Advanced Resolution (Lossless Audio) mix. The DVD A also features over 30 minutes of rare, previously unseen footage of the band - a rare gift for Crimson fans. This set is similar to previous in that it is a 2-digipak format in a slipcase with extensive new sleeve notes by King Crimson biographer Sid Smith. Of course, there are those great rare photos and archive materials.
The group contains the mid-1970s trio of founding member Robert Fripp (guitars and mellotron), John Wetton (vocals and bass) and Bill Bruford (drums). Along for this wondrous ride are David Cross (violin and flute) and Jamie Muir (percussion and "devices"). This quintet only performed together for one tour and one album. Fans will debate the use of the "devices" or "sound effects", depending on how pure one considers ones taste, but in some sense, it's a new branch of experimentation that King Crimson (Fripp) had never done before. Note that this is the same year that "Dark Side Of The Moon" was released, so the invention of `quad' recordings and special effects were well in place. The mix by Steven Wilson allows these devices to come and go in a humorous and often mysterious fashion - flitting or flying from speaker to speaker in a true surround sense, he takes that `crazed laughter', the `increasing mumblings of a female neurotic', the `screeching' (a bridge in this case), `wind sweepings' and many others. I have to say that they could have released a `non-effects' version, but I truly enjoy the mix of Crimson and this new feature. It's nearly psychosis.
As a definitive `progressive rock' album, it contains healthy portions of hard rock, folk, classical and wild free form jazz. `Larks Tongues in Aspic, Part One' is one of the most delightfully deceiving and frantically fun song on the album. From the long soft percussion intro that almost induces a hypnotizing effect to the angst ridden violin, increasing to the blast of unexpected rock chords that shatter the senses - only to have the violin deftly return with a `Hitchcock-style' edge (think, "Psycho' shower scene). After that manic introduction, Crimson slides into some relatively gentle ballads, (`Book of Saturdays' and `Exiles'). Picking up again with some brilliantly interwoven pieces, (`Easy Money' - watch those sound effects, `The Talking Drum' and `Larks Tongues in Aspic, Part Two'), the band keeps each song distinct with a unique flair injected into each one. The final cut, 'Larks Tongues in Aspic, Part Two' pulls that heavy hard rock chord back again and finishes off one of the most satisfying albums to that date.
The `Improv: The Rich Tapestry of Life', `Exiles' and `Larks Tongues In Aspic, part One' on the second list are just as inventive and satisfying as the main album. These provide a welcome addition for any King Crimson fan.
This 5.1 surround version is a must have for any hard rock/progressive rock fan. The devices only add to the mixture, but for some reason, this album stands out to me as one of their better albums and that is a tough call to make. I hear the 15-disc set is amazing, but to be honest, this set is exactly what I wanted and needed.