As discussed elsewhere, modern music has long been a passion for me. Early on I was drawn to artists and bands that were unusual. Fancying myself a musician of sorts (aka a drummer!), I was also intrigued by the technical mastery of the musicians playing.
I was fascinated with King Crimson’s first album In The Court of Crimson King – especially the song 21st Century Schizoid Man. I had never heard anything like it. Led by guitar player Robert Fripp, the band had a broad musical palette and excellent musicianship. The album cover also stood out with the 21st Schizoid Man himself making an appearance. I remember bringing the album into school for a class where the teacher let us play songs we liked (it was a civics class!). The teacher – Coach Kelley – couldn’t get over the album cover 🤩.
After that Fripp & his varied band members produced several good albums including In the Wake of Poseidon, Islands, and Lizard.
After Yes’ legendary Close to the Edge was released in 1972, drummer Bill Bruford left for King Crimson. He joined King Crimson together with an amazing percussionist and Buddhist monk Jamie Muir, a violinist David Cross and an amazing bass player and singer John Wetton. I was a huge Yes fan and disappointed he left Yes, but he more than made up for it with what he did in King Crimson from that point forward.
They released Lark’s Tongue in Aspic in 1973 about the time I graduated from high school. At that point, I was very heavily influenced by progressive rock and jazz fusion. I was a purveyor of unusual-sounding instruments, complex compositions, and highly skilled musicianship. This album fits the bill nicely!
I was also struck by the name and album artwork. Lark’s Tongue in Aspic is a legendary culinary delicacy with the added aspect of requiring an untold number of beautiful, delicate songbirds to sacrifice their fucking tongues. It was apparently invented by the Romans – or at least as myths would tell. Can you imagine?
In my mind, as well as others, it represents obscene excess. Stories are told about how courtiers would sit for hours watching French royalty eat meals like this prepared to try and impress them. Like some kind of really fucked up circus.
Sort of reminds me of what internet billionaires are doing now. The ultimate in excess and instant gratification, without anything but token regard as to environmental and societal consequences. At the same time, social media ready to spew vitriol to secure the spot for the next generation of influencers 🤡. 21st Century Schizoid Man and Lark’s Tongue in Aspic, indeed.
In stark contrast to this is the gorgeous album artwork. In my mind, it brings together humanity and nature in a powerful way. It has always been a favorite up there with Yes’ Fragile. When I moved back to Florida ten years ago I quickly landed on this becoming my own personal sigil.
Brother Sun and Sister Moon.