Sunday, February 24, 2013

February 24th, 2013 - Lark's Tongues In Doppelbock

Hello friends!  The Meista here with another pairing for you today...  I'm now going in a very different direction, spinning King Crimson's 1973 progressive and experimental masterpiece, "Lark's Tongues In Aspic" with a Spaten Optimator from Spaten-Franziskaner-Bräu imported from Munich.  (As you have probably deduced from the attached photograph, I have a bit of an affinity for this album.) 

"Lark's Tongues In Aspic" is English progressive rock master minds' King Crimson's fifth studio album.  The first album by the third incarnation of Crimson, the 1973 band was made up of founding member Robert Fripp (guitars) along with a cast of new members that included John Wetton (vocals, bass), David Cross (strings, Mellotron), Bill Bruford of Yes (drums), and Jamie Muir (percussion).  The entire band would contribute to the writing of the "Lark's Tongues In Aspic" album and Robert Palmer-James (who later was a founding member of Supertramp) provided lyrics.  This album would see the band's musical direction take a more experimental, heavier, and more progressive approach as opposed to the previous more jazz-oriented releases.  The band would also incorporate world music sounds and passages into their work, especially with the addition of Cross' violins and Mellotron soundscapes.  Opening with the epic, 13:35 minute "Lark's Tongues In Aspic, Part One" and ending with the 7+ minute finale, "Lark's Tongues In Aspic, Part Two," the album is a rich texture of profoundly honest songwriting and unparalleled musicianship.  At 40 years old, it still sounds to me as vibrant and fresh as the day it was released.  Fripp's powerful guitar work, coupled with Cross' haunting strings is mesmerizing, transcendental.  The drumming and percussion work of Muir and Bruford is breathtaking, and Wetton's bass and vocals are concurrently rich in tone and depth.  "Book Of Saturday" is a warm and expressive track.  "Exiles" opens with magically bizarre soundscape and then morphs into a perfect acoustic/electric lament.  "Easy Money" is a tumultous and sarcastic track with heavy guitars and wonderfully poetic lyrics.  And "The Talking Drum" is downright insane and beautiful experimentation.  The album ends with "Lark's Tongues In Aspic, Part Two," a song of amazing musical integrity... an all-time favorite of mine and one of King Crimson's best songs ever.  (Dream Theater does an incredible cover of this song as well.)

Spaten-Franziskaner-Bräu's Spaten Optimator is a Doppelbock, a very strong and very malty German Bock.  Characterized by full-bodied flavor and an abundance of malts, Doppelbocks have been often called "a meal in a glass" by connoisseurs for centuries.  As the name denotes, this is a beer with optimum flavor, which is great for the optimum depth of "Lark's Tongues In Aspic."  The Optimator pours a very deep, transparent mahogany with a creamy, mocha head.  The nose is strong, sweet, and malty with notes of raisin bread, molasses, and plums.  There's a slight bourbon tone to this Doppelbock as well... almost smoky.  Like the nose, the flavor is rich, malty, and sweet.  There are notes of brown sugar, sweet bread, and subtle cherry notes.  Like a deep red wine, the Optimator is a very meaty, very thick and chunky brew.  Big on flavor and higher in ABV percentage (nearly 8%), the Optimator is a good "sipping" beer... perfect for relaxing and analyzing the impressive complexities and richness of "Lark's Tongues In Aspic." 

For an evening of introspective and amazing artistical pursuits, might I suggest a pairing of "Lark's Tongues In Aspic" and a Spaten Optimator or two?

Cheers and happy pairing!

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