The Legendary Pink Dots embrace the unknown (Creative Loafing)

Edward Ka-Spel and Co. kick open the doors of perception

Chad Radford Sep. 28, 2016

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COOL AQUARIANS: The Legendary Pink Dots are Erik Drost (from left), Phil “the Silverman” Knight, Edward Ka-Spel, and Joep Hendrikx. | Dakis

Reaching beyond the boundaries of waking life — musically, spiritually, and psychologically — has long been the mission for the Legendary Pink Dots’ leader, singer, and keyboard player Edward Ka-Spel. Since the group formed circa 1980, Ka-Spel and synth player Phil “The Silverman” Knight and an ever-changing lineup have turned out countless hours of music, perpetually expanding upon a body of work that lies outside the scope of traditional psychedelia, kraut rock, industrial music, and new wave. “We wanted to create a sound that was completely our own,” Ka-Spel says.

Albums such as 1988’s Any Day Now, 1990’s Crushed Velvet Apocalypse, and 1991’s The Maria Dimension illustrate the group’s decades-long plunge into musical exploration. Each of these albums, along with scores of other titles, provide the foundation on which Ka-Spel and the East London-based outfit have sculpted their kaleidoscopic sound that is crafted with a vast range of acoustic and electronic musical devices.

In April, the Legendary Pink Dots released Pages of Aquarius (Metropolis Records). It’s a charged album that opens with a salvo of war drums in “Mirror Mirror,” tapping into a sense of trademark urgency and mystery. Drawn-out rhythms, noise, and acid-folk melodies carry the group gracefully forward into spacious and mystifying new musical terrain. Ka-Spel opens the album singing: “Mirror mirror on the wall, really wish I had the balls to look you in the eye, but I don’t. I propose that we wait until the morning. There’s a thousand things to fix, and I’m feeling pretty sick. I prefer the window.”

It’s a cryptic intro that sets the mood for one of the group’s most arresting albums in recent years. Releasing such a paradoxical album in 2016 illustrates that after 36 years, the Legendary Pink Dots’ drive to reach deeper into unknown corners of music is as powerful as ever. Songs such as “D-Train” and “Credibility” billow with a shadowy sense of unease, but to dwell on that heaviness misses the totality of the album, and the Legendary Pink Dots’ vital essence.

“There are many facets to our lives,” Ka-Spel says. “We want to put across the best representation of all those different shades of color and subtlety. There is humor in the music; there is sadness and joy — all the colors of the spectrum — and it suggests that there are colors you have not seen yet. We want to open new doors — keep kicking at them. We know the doors are there. We want to open them so that other people can look through and see that there is something wonderful and huge that lies beyond what you know.”

Ka-Spel is a self-taught musician. His mother offered to pay for piano lessons when he was 8 years old. He says he declined and has regretted it ever since. It wasn’t until years later when he witnessed the unbridled industrial power of Throbbing Gristle that he gained the confidence to re-create the music he heard in his head. “Growing up, there were very few of us who were into music in this way,” Ka-Spel says. “We were like a secret society. I will always remember wearing a Magma T-shirt and riding on the tube and someone on the other side of the carriage would point and say, ‘Yeah, me too!’”

Ka-Spel has also released dozens of solo albums and contributed to a handful of side projects including Mimir with German texture/atmospheric sound artist Christoph Heemann. He also leads the Tear Garden with cEvin Key of Skinny Puppy. The group is currently working on a new album scheduled to arrive in June 2017. Ka-Spel has also recently finished a record with Amanda Palmer of Dresden Dolls, titled I Can Spin A Rainbow, due out next spring.

For the group’s current North American tour, Ka-Spel and Knight, along with guitarist Erik Drost and sound engineer Joep Hendrikx, are on the road supporting Pages of Aquarius. With such a voluminous body of work, material from the past always appears in their setlists. But nostalgia is something of a dirty word for Ka-Spel. “It’s almost like another way of saying karaoke,” he says. “I understand the appeal, but if you’re trying to re-create something that you did in the ’80s, you have to ask yourself, ‘Why am I even [making music]?’”

Ka-Spel has also released dozens of solo albums and contributed to a handful of side projects including Mimir with German texture/atmospheric sound artist Christoph Heemann. He also leads the Tear Garden with cEvin Key of Skinny Puppy. The group is currently working on a new album scheduled to arrive in June 2017. Ka-Spel has also recently finished a record with Amanda Palmer of Dresden Dolls, titled I Can Spin A Rainbow, due out next spring.

On stage, songs such as “D-Train” from Pages of Aquarius and “Ten O’er Nine” from 2014’s 10 to the Power of 9 Vol.1 LP blend with classic Pink Dots numbers “Love Puppets” from 1983’s Curse LP or “Disturbance” from The Maria Dimension. But these older numbers have been radically rearranged to fit in with the context of what the group is doing now. “The Pink Dots began as a band that wanted to take risks and open new doors, and that’s what we still want to do,” Ka-Spel says. “We’re more interested in presenting the future than we are in looking to the past.”

This ever-expanding approach propels the Legendary Pink Dots forward, and Pages of Aquarius marks one more chapter in the group’s legacy. The future is unwritten, but the group is already poised for take off into the unknown.

The Legendary Pink Dots play the Drunken Unicorn on Wed., Oct. 5. $10. 9 p.m. With Orbit Service and Cave Bat. 736 Ponce De Leon Ave. www.thedrunkenunicorn.net.

source: http://www.clatl.com/music/article/20834992/the-legendary-pink-dots-embrace-the-unknown

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