Review Summary: Worth the price of admission for the stunning version of "Larks' Tongues In Aspic (part IV)" alone.
King Crimson put out this 32 minute EP as a sort of teaser running up to the 2003 release of 'The Power To Believe'. It includes some new versions of previously recorded material, some tracks that appear on the subsequent full album and also some recordings that you won't find anywhere else.
If we don't consider the excellent ProjeKct X release 'Heaven and Earth' as a proper King Crimson album then we must turn to 'The ConstruKction Of Light' as the studio precursor to this EP. 'The ConstruKction Of Light' was probably the most lacklustre record King Crimson had ever made and though it features some worthy pieces it stands overall as a cold and uninviting chapter in the annals of the crown princes of progressive rock. The largely uninspired material on that much maligned album is not flattered by its inert, sterile production leading to a feeling of detachment from the music. In the ensuing year KC seemed to decide they would go back to trying a more experimental approach to their music again. The shoots of this change of direction are starting to bud on this EP. The pounding title track was included on 'The Power To Believe' but is presented here in an excellent extended version. As far as the 'album only' tracks go there are some short vocoder pieces which seem rather pointless, an enjoyable 'KC does the blues' number entitled 'Potato Pie' and a couple of bland ambient pieces.
If you have read as far as this you may be wondering why I have given this a 4.5 rating. You see there is one very major reason to get hold of this EP and that is the new extended version of 'Larks' Tongues In Aspic (part IV)' which was recorded in a live studio session. The sheer potency of this recording is totally unlike the rather subdued version on 'The ConstruKction Of Light'; this is vital, fervent and primal. There are moments on here in which Fripp plays like he has been possessed by some sort of manic Lord of Chaos who has decided to ascend from the 4th level of Pandaemonium to infuse its host with deranged demonic powers of freaked-out fretboard abuse, especially at around a third of the way in when he goes totally bonkers. Play this at a party on full volume and watch as the non-believers make for the door. The people left in the room at the end of this utterly glorious 10 minute onslaught of discord and rhyme will be left quivering in a state of shock, mutely staring into the middle distance with their foam flecked lips working in mute abdication.
On the face of it this release is probably only for King Crimson completists but it's worth buying just to get hold of the utterly face-melting version of 'Larks' Tongues In Aspic (part IV)'. Even if you hate King Crimson and all they stand for I guarantee you can use Larks 4 to clear your house of unwanted guests if nothing else, and they won't come back.