King Crimson Islands on 200g Import LP + Download
Islands is the sixth in a series of audiophile King Crimson vinyl reissues. The album's return to the 12" vinyl format is newly cut from masters approved by Robert Fripp. Manufactured on 200 gramm super-heavyweight vinyl and housed in a reprint of the original gatefold sleeve, this edition also contains bonus MP3 codes giving access to a download of a transfer of an original 1971 pressing (taken from Fripp's personal file copy of the album).
A frequently beautiful and sometimes unfairly overlooked part of King Crimson's always intriguing back catalog, on Islands Crimson left behind the formula they followed for their first three albums, setting off for more adventurous avenues of expression. If his leadership were ever in question before, Fripp had emerged as the mastermind of the group by this point.
There's a much looser feel here, and even when essaying a delicate ballad like "Formentera Lady" or the gorgeous title track, jazzy bass and piano lines and free-wheeling percussion keep things from getting too settled. The jazz influence always present in Crimson grew far more pronounced on Islands via saxman Mel Collins and pianist Keith Tippett.
Where the KC of old turned to Wagnerian grandeur to fill its classical quota, here they favor a more modern classical flavor, often approaching a third stream feel. Fripp's two instrumentals "Sailor's Tale" and "Prelude: Song of the Gulls" showcase his compositional and instrumental brilliance at its most undiluted. While there's more of a sprawling, spacious feel and little fury on Islands, the dynamic shifts are as drastic as ever, as evidenced by new bassist/vocalist Boz Burrell's barely audible singing on "The Letters."
King Crimson Islands Track Listing:
1. Formentera Lady
2. Sailor's Tale
3. The Letters
4. Prelude: Song Of The Gulls
5. Ladies Of The Road