As with yesterday's album, I got Islands for my birthday earlier this month, and includes a second disc — this time it's not blu-ray, but 5.1 surround sound on DVD — for audiophiles that I can't play. (Lord knows when, if ever, they're going to make a single player that will enable me to hear them all.)
But there the similarities end. I guess I need to preface this by saying that I'm not a hi-fi nerd, great music can sound great on AM radio, and some of my most moving experiences of music have come about when hearing it through the muffle of a car door on a busy street. I said I was a little disappointed by the experience of listening to A Treasure. Islands blew me away. I've only listened to the original album on CD, none of the bonus tracks, the Lossless 5.1 Surround, MLP Lossless Stereo (24/96) or PCM Stereo 2.0 (24/48) (!), but event the poor relation sounds quite astonishing.
Unlike the other albums I've got in Crimson's "40th Anniversary" reissue series, In the Court… and Red — I'd never heard Islands before. To be honest, I wasn't expecting a great deal of the music since the one song I do know well, Ladies of the Road from The Young Person's Guide, is one of my least favourite Crimson songs. But the Freak Zone played a few others from the album late last year, and they sounded OK coming out of the radio. They sound amazing coming out of my hi-fi. Recorded 40 years ago in a hurry, in a studio that by all accounts was not the top of the range, but every sound has a rich grain to it. A quick search suggests that I've only used the word "awesome" unironically twice in 2,032 posts on this site, so I'm going to push the boat out and use it a third time for Islands.
To quote one of Robert Fripp's maxims, "Any small unit committed to qualitative action can affect radical change on a scale outside its quantitative measure". These King Crimson reissues are of such quality I can imagine myself keeping on lapping them up long after I've given up on other CDs (which I hope I now have). Larks Tongues in Aspic in surround sound? That's going to blow my socks off.
MusicBrainz entry for this album
Wikipedia entry for this album
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Some metadata about this album at Last.fm