9 Lives to Wonder

THE LEGENDARY PINK DOTS

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Cover ImageRelease date and tracklist

1994
BE CD Play It Again Sam BIAS280
US CD Soleilmoon SOL30 (different cover)

23 June 2012
NL Remastered MP3 self-released on Bandcamp

  1. Madame Guillotine – [MP3]
  2. On Another Shore – [MP3]
  3. Softly Softly – [MP3]
  4. Crumbs On The Carpet – [MP3]
  5. Hotel Z – [MP3]
  6. Oasis Malade – [MP3]
  7. A Crack In Melancholy Time – [MP3]
  8. Siren – [MP3]
  9. The Angel Trail – [MP3]
  10. Nine Shades To The Circle – [MP3]
  11. A Terra Firma Welcome – [MP3]
    Find a Bin to Put it In

 

***
Cover Image2003
CA LPx2 Flesh Eating Ants FEA05

side a

  1. Madame Guillotine – [MP3]
  2. On Another Shore – [MP3]
  3. Softly Softly – [MP3]
  4. Crumbs On The Carpet – [MP3]

side b

  1. Hotel Z – [MP3]
  2. Oasis Malade – [MP3]
  3. A Crack In Melancholy Time – [MP3]
  4. Siren – [MP3]
  5. The Angel Trail – [MP3]

side c

  1. Nine Shades To The Circle – [MP3]
  2. A Terra Firma Welcome – [MP3]
  3. Find a Bin to Put it In (extended)

side d

  1. The Uncanny 18th Shade

Credits

  • The Silver Man – keyboards & devices
  • Ryan Moore – electric bass, fretless bass, acoustic bass, drums
  • Martijn de Kleer – electric guitar, acoustic guitar, drums, tympani
  • Prophet Qa’Sepel – vox, keyboards, destroyed lyre
  • Niels van Hoornblower – saxophones, clarinet, flute
  • Cevin Key – drums
  • Raymond Steeg – production

Notes

CD:
At the end of “A Terra Firma Welcome” is a brief period of silence (0:42), followed by an unlisted track called “Find A Bin To Put It In”. This unlisted track appears in extended form (still unlisted) on 9 Lives To Wonder (Flesh Eating Ants, 2003). Tracks 11.1 and 11.2 below appear as a single track on the CD, with a combined length of 5:17.

NITITUPOTNIBADNIF

LP:
15 deluxe test pressings of the LP version exist. Given away as gifts to close friends of Flesh Eating Ants Records, they each feature two unique alternate covers based on the original image.
The test pressings are pressed on 220 gram black vinyl.

Bandcamp:
With spiritual brother Cevin Key onboard, this album features the same line-up as Tear Garden’s “To be an Angel Blind”. A landmark, as dreamy as it gets.  1994 and The Dots’ last album for PIAS.
Of all the Dots’ remasters, this may be the best, due in no small part to Raymond’s masterful mixing.
Cevin captured the session on film and a DVD will be made available in the Autumn (2012).
Elke P. designed the cover…


Reviews

Good mid-’90’s Legendary Pink Dots release. More mellow and laid back than their more recent titles, but still very decent. Best described as neo-psychedelic. Seen them play small clubs twice now. You can never tell what ‘deep album tracks’ they just might play on any given U.S. tour. Tracks here I was somewhat impressed the most with were “Madame Guillotine”, the hypnotic “Oasis Malade”, the ten-minute “Nine Shades To The Circle” and “Terra Firma Welcome”. Always good to check out one of many, {many} LPD discs that you haven’t heard yet. -Mike Reed

***

This album is a particularily good “summary work” of the legendary pink dots’ style before they moved onto their present style. Soft, melodic, and very spacy, this would be a great disc to get introduced the dots, especially if you’re into the earlier works of pink floyd. If you’re familiar with the Dots’ other stuff, this is along similar lines as The Maria Dimension and The Shadow Weaver part one.

***

Despite being almost totally unknown in America, the Legendary Pink Dots have been able to sustain an unbelieveably prolific career from their base in the Netherlands. Since Chemical Playschool in 1981, the group have released albums on a regular (almost annual) basis — and this in addition to various EPs, solo projects, and collaborations with cEvin Key (ex-Skinny Puppy) as The Tear Garden (whose Last Man To Fly album is discussed on the Tentative Reviews web site).

While their early works were strongly rooted in Euro-pop stylings, the Pink Dots eventually developed their sound into a unique form of modern psychedelia — combining Floyd-esque sonics (including more than a few blatant PF references) with some truly disturbed childlike/apocalyptic lyrics, frequently dwelling on space-related themes. Interestingly, these themes are frequently delivered in a somewhat detached manner (which might, come to think of it, account for the group’s staying power). Perhaps any country which is fairly lenient towards casual drug use is bound to produce casual psychedelia. It’s difficult to say. But whatever their origins, the LPD have managed to come up with some truly intriguing music within the space of their careers.

Some would argue that the LPD hit their “peak” with Asylum in 1985. Perhaps. But even a random purchase of any material released since that time is bound to yield a decent return. And, while it’s arguable that some Pink Dots releases have been “formulaic” in recent years, the boys are usually able to come up with enough new twists to keep things interesting.

Which isn’t to say that every song is a perfect gem. Some of the tracks on Nine Lives To Wonder (1995) are clearly less inspired than others, and there are times (here and elsewhere) where the eclecticism seems a tad forced. But even the lower points on the album aren’t all that low. While NLtW may not be the highest water mark in the LPD catalogue, it’s still a very good album, and a worthwhile purchase for progressive fans with a psychedelic bent.

The album commences, not surprisingly, with heavy apocalyptic overtones, as the saga of “Madame Guillotine” is brought forward — to judge from the lyrics, this figure seems to be power of cosmic destruction, forever trying to to remove the blood from her soiled hands (Kali meets Lady MacBeth?). The music is both strongly electronic and profoundly spacious, with older-sounding synthesizers matching with saxophones towards the end to a interesting (and very musical) effect. The shift in lyrics from personal to global occurs at about mid-song, with Ka’spel’s invocation of the famous “when they rounded up the […]” passage from holocaust times. This isn’t a particularly new direction for the Pink Dots, but it starts the album off on a strong enough note.

“On Another Shore” is an extremely background-sounding number, with all of the instruments (and, to a certain extent, the voice) mixed rather low — this eventually leads to a somewhat trancelike effect by song’s end. The bass and drum-brushes set the restrained tone of the song from the beginning; interestingly, the only instrument which breaks through this mix is the flute. The lyrics are a paean to a mysterious lost companion, who has apparently left the protagonist in isolation — the flutes might suggest an allusion to ancient Greece, but this could just as easily involve themes of alien visitation — lines like “The good ship sails away forever” might suggest the latter rather than the former. Not quite as well-crafted as the first track, this is still extremely good.

The album undergoes a sudden shift with “Softly Softly”, an odd blend of late-1960s Brit-pop (in the music) and vague psychedelic hints (in the lyrics). The mix is much crisper than before (which is doubly odd given the presence of a Skinny Puppy member on drums), and the flute once again receives a strong role. Short, articulate and non-essential, this may be the perfect case study of a “minor album track”.

“Crumbs On The Carpet” sees the Pink Dots revising one of their previous jokes, and telling the story of a troupe of pathologically deranged diners unable to satiate their all-consuming appetites (the “monkey brains” section is taken directly from an earlier EP track). The electronic effects (sounding suspiciously like a video game sample) come to the foreground again, thus leading to a truly odd beats’n’horns segment about halfway through. This isn’t the strongest number the Pink Dots have ever come up with, although the weirdness does have a certain charm of its own.

Continuing the theme of sudden mood shifts, “Hotel Z” is a detailed depiction of a decadent, regal figure literally fading away in his isolation (the most obvious implication of the title would be to suggest that this theme refers to a famous musician overdosing in isolation, but the specific interpretation is left somewhat open). Sung from the perspective of the tragic hero (with a dark, acoustic backing which shifts from guitar to piano), this decline is extremely well-presented. Of note is a keyboard “solo” which harkens directly back to early Pink Floyd without quite constituting a “rip-off” per se.

“Oasis Malade” is another unusual number, with Ka’Spel narrating an encounter with an long-lost beloved, who explains that she left him to explore the pyramids in Belgium (eventually returning when she discovered that there were none). After offering him a drink of tea from a plastic cup, she leaves again. It isn’t entirely clear if this is meant to be humourous or tragic — the confessional recounting of the encounter seems to reveal the character limitations of the protagonist as much as the absurdity of the tale. The music, of course, is dark and ambient throughout.

The group returns to electronic music again with “A Crack In Melancholy Time” (amusingly, the drum beat seems to be acoustic). This song features an appearance of environmentalist-based lyrics, which have never been Ka’Spel’s strongest point (see alsoThe Crushed Velvet Apocalypse for further examples) — the unironic nature of such themes doesn’t really suit him terribly well, though it must be admitted that his shift from the general to the personal in mid-song improves the general nature of the song. While a good number, this simply doesn’t rate with the best material on the album. An extended, pulsating instrumental concludes the track.

“Siren” begins with something of a classical flavour (admittedly not terribly complex, though), and quickly develops into a detailed/repetitive depiction of a group of sailors approaching the forbidden beauty of the titular creatures. In terms of both lyrics and music, some form of destruction always seems to lurk around the corner, never quite emerging — the thin line of beauty is put forward instead (including a “sail to me” chant, which lasts for a fair degree of time). A rather background- ish keyboard lead emerges as the track reaches its end.

And this leads to the brief “The Angel Trail”, a curious number featuring a “wavy”, almost Hawaiian-sounding guitar line merging with naive cloudland lyrics in an obvious parody of peacenik love songs. A bit on the short side (as one might expect from the theme), this is still a fairly clever venture.

The masterpiece of the album is “Nine Shades To The Circle”, a truly twisted number involving more sonic manipulation than any other track here, and a Burroughs-esque description of a morning departure for an urgent journey by train (featuring several different outcomes, all of which have the same general musical background). After an electro- acoustic introduction of sorts (presumably capturing the atmosphere of the station at dawn), the first variation on the lyrical theme emerges: an obsessed figure’s thoughts grow gradually more disturbed as he enters the station (a line about “Evil Santa punish[ing] the bad boys” comes out of nowhere), and eventually enters state of advanced paranoia in the middle of the station (allowing Ka’Spel to incorporate one of his more interesting vocal effects into the work, while the music enters a rather chaotic state). In subsequent lyrical themes, the story concludes with (i) a junkie stabbing the protagonist before the story really begins, (ii) a figure musing on a lost love while a radio explodes in the background, and (iii) a matter-of-fact description of the journey to the train, with no suggestion of what happens thereafter. Between each tale, the song structure breaks down in some chaotic manner. This is LPD insanity at its most refined, and perhaps its most rewarding as well.

Following this, “A Terra Firma Welcome” seems almost a necessary coda to prevent the album from concluding with total chaos. The music on this particular work is much more … well … “normal” than any other track here, and the lyrics are profoundly puzzling (involving a figure joining the space police, the sending of a “guest” into space with all of his body parts cut up and sterilized, and an alien race “returning for their boy”). It’s not entirely clear what any of this signifies, though perhaps any album of this sort has to end with some sort of mystery.

Nine Lives To Wonder is an interesting experience, featuring several tracks which rate well on their own terms. This isn’t necessarily the best introduction to the Pink Dots, but it should be able to convince most fans of eclectic music of their essential worth. –The Christopher Currie (review originally posted to alt.music.yes on 19 May 1998)


 

Lyrics

MADAME GUILLOTINE

She washed her hands 300 times
But still they’re dripping red.
We caught her in the pauper’s pit,
She stole the prince’s head…
Cursing ‘blasphemy’…
O mercy me…
He staggered like a chicken.

They lynched him;
They left him flinching.
Running scared…
Took their seats…they kept on knitting.

God bless the noble savage
As he swaggers
As he sweats
He’s making bets on who is next-
He don’t care about the colour…

So many here to choose from…

(First they rounded up the reds
But I’m not red so…

Then they rounded up the blacks
But I’m not black so…

Then they rounded up the gypsies
And the junkies and donkeys.

Now I’m scared to whistle ‘swanee’
‘Cause they’ll ask me for my spit…)

It’s the garden that we walk in
And it’s dying…so we cut it down.
We’re drowning now.
There’s no way out.
We all fall down.
We all fall down
We all fall down
We all fall down
We all fall down
We all fall down
All fall down…
All fall down…
All fall down…

It’s the garden that we walk in
And it’s dying…so we cut it down.
We’re drowning now.
There’s no way out.
We all fall down.
We all fall down
We all fall down
We all fall down
We all fall down
We all fall down
All fall down…
All fall down…
All fall down…

It’s the garden that we walk in
And it’s dying…so we cut it down.
We’re drowning now.
There’s no way out.
We all fall down.
We all fall down
We all fall down
We all fall down
We all fall down
We all fall down
All fall down…
All fall down…
All fall down…

ON ANOTHER SHORE

All these years I waited
‘Cause I knew that you’d return.
No stranger’s hand has touched this temple.
One candle slowly burned…
For you.

(Were you waiting too?)

For you…just for you.

I swear I heard you crying
On the cruel uncanny breeze.
I saw you crawling down there
On your bleeding hands and knees.

Now crawl right up to me,
My captain.
The good ship sails away forever..
Leave us be.
The good ship sails away forever.
The way it’s meant to be.

The good ship sails away forever..
Leave us be.
The good ship sails away forever.
The way it’s meant to be.

These were the gentle words she said,
I could not find her in my head.
I searched for little clues
But all the lights were glowing red.

And in the end I smiled politely,
Snatched my coat and fled.

From you.

Just from you.
Just from you.

But still I hear her crying
On the cruel uncanny breeze.
I see her crawling down there
On her bleeding hands and knees.

Come to me!

Come to me!

The good ship sails away forever.
Was never meant to be.

The good ship sails away forever.
Never meant to be.

Never meant to be…

SOFTLY SOFTLY

Sink in the quicksand.
Linked to the branch of a tree…
Can’t see.
‘Cause it’s darker than death
And you guys up and left me out here to freeze.

And this forest plays its tricks
So I treat it with respect.
Threw my garbage in a skip,
I buttoned up my anorak.
Shuffled soft shoe.
I washed…
You can look me in the teeth

Comb your hair.
Comb your hair.

Choked by the quicksand,
Kicked from the branch of this tree

I’m free!

CRUMBS ON THE CARPET (Transcribed by cowell@cs.utk.edu)

Dinner whispers, “Come and get it”
Poses on the plate
We shot it twice with anesthetic,
Still it bites the waiters
Till they’re bleeding in the loo
So goddamn hot it burns their shoes
We lick them clean, we eat ’em too

Still there’s room enough for more masala,
Enchilada, monkey brains and donkey doos
More masala, enchilada, monkey brains and donkey doos
More masala, enchilada, monkey brains, donkey doos
More masala, enchilada, monkey brains, donkey doos
More masala, enchilada, monkey brains, donkey doos

We’d eat the wall if it could walk
And we could sink our forks in

We are what we eat
We are many-sided
Just you name it, sure we’ve tried it

We are what we eat
We are many-sided
Just you name it, sure we’ve tried it

We are what we eat
We are many-sided
Just you name it, sure we’ve tried it

Why hide it?

More masala, enchilada, monkey brains, donkey doos…

HOTEL Z

Overdose…
Comatosed…
I feel you close,
But you’re so very far away.

Surrogate…
There’s no escape.

I found a gate,
But it’s locked…
So I’m here to stay…

Every wish I have is granted.
Every hand is mine to hold
All the trees that I have planted
Touch the sky, turn gold.

Could buy the planet if I wanted.
Make it mine…
Yes, I’d unfold a tapestry that I’d recline in,
Somewhere we could both grow old together.

Our dream…

Dying eyes…
You sympathize.

I clutch my prize;
But it so slowly fades away…

Dying eyes…
You sympathize.

I clutch my prize;
But it so slowly fades away…

Dying eyes.
You sympathize.

I clutch my prize;
But it so slowly fades away…

Dying eyes.
You sympathize.

I clutch my prize;
But it so slowly fades away…

OASIS MALADE (Transcribed by cowell@cs.utk.edu)

Tanith dropped by today.
Like, I hadn’t seen her in years,
But there she was at my front door
In her colonial helmet.

Custom made Burmese fan
Poised in one hand…
Ready to swipe at any passing disease-ridden mosquito.

She’d been in Belgium, she told me…
Studying the pyramids.
It took her years to find out
That there were no pyramids in Belgium.

I asked her why she left me so suddenly…
Why she’d been silent for so long.

Didn’t I exist for her?
Didn’t we have something, well, special?

She asked me for tea in a plastic cup
With a well-fitting lid…

Then she left.

A CRACK IN MELANCHOLY TIME

I lean on the fence
And you squat in the middle
And we wait ’til the stream runs dry.
Though you don’t see the sense
And we can’t solve the riddle,
It’s amazing how time flies.

And we hear the children calling.
We agree that it’s appalling…
But it’s best to keep on stalling.

Count me out
Count me out
Count me out
Count me out…

Now there’s blood on my hands
And I’m wearing a muzzle
So I’ll look the other way.
Place my head in the sand
Let the rest solve the puzzle,
Think about just who’s to blame.

‘Cause I hear the children weeping…
And I see the virus creeping…
History is repeating.

Count me out
Count me out
Count me out
Count me out…

Now there’s chains ’round my neck
And my head’s in the oven
And the crowd kicks at my door.

And you’re leading the pack
Under wraps, undercover…
‘Cause you need to win this war.

You put up your flag and kissed it
With your black volcanic lipstick.

And I’m simply your statistic…

Count me out
Count me out
Count me out
Count me out…

Count me out
Count me out
Count me out
Count me out
Count me out
Count me out
Count me out…

SIREN

Sheba had nine lives that I could sleep in.
Sheba had the cutest little nose.
Sheba’s lips by Interflora.
Rollercoaster.
Lizard Lick.
She stings you like the 13th summer rose.

Sheba offers blind inviting alleys.
Sheba flutters two discerning eyes.
Twice unfocused.
Hocus pocus…

Witchy whispers on the wind…
“Come sail to me, it’s been so long.
Come sail to me, it’s been so long.
Come sail to me, it’s been so long.
Come sail to me its been so long…
So lonesome…so lonesome I could die.”

Like butterflies, we rode the breeze.
We read the stars and swam…
As Sheba coo-coo-cooed us from afar.

One single shining beacon on our limited horizon,
We asked no bitter questions
Lest she told us sugar lies.

And of course, we died there
On that stormy, stormy night…
As Sheba whimpered…
Whimpered…
Whimpered…
Whimpered…
Whimpered…
Whimpered…
Whimpered…

“Come sail to me, it’s been so long.
Come sail to me, it’s been so long.
Come sail to me, it’s been so long.
Come sail to me, it’s been so long.
Come sail to me, it’s been so long.
Come sail to me, it’s been so long.
Come sail to me, it’s been so long.
Come sail to me, it’s been so long.
Sail to me, it’s been so long.
Sail to me…been so long.
Sail to me…been so long.

I could die…”

THE ANGEL TRAIL

Close your eyes and count to nine.
Everything will turn out fine.
There’s nothing on this planet that can touch you.

This cloud belongs to you and me.
There’s nothing that we can’t achieve…
Hang on to my hand, I’ll protect you.
I never, never will neglect you.

Safe inside our tapestry…
The only place for you and me.
Hang on to my hand, I’ll protect you.

Close your eyes and count to nine.
Everything will turn out fine.
There’s nothing on this planet that can touch you.

This cloud belongs to you and me.
There’s nothing that we can’t achieve…
Hang on to my hand, I’ll protect you.

NINE SHADES TO THE CIRCLE

Like any other day,
I heard the bell and grabbed my coat.
Snatched a coffee and nearly choked
And semi-cartwheeled headfirst in the rain.

I knew I had to make that train.
My life depended on that train.

A laughing bag sang ‘Giant Panda’…
Evil Santa punishes the bad boys,
And once I told myself a lie.

I never quite figured out the reason why…
But everybody’s pointing at me.
Laughing at me.
Pointing and me and laughing at me…
Pushing…

Pushing…

They’re pushing…

Pushing…

Pushing…

Stop pushing!
Don’t push me!

Like any other day,
I heard the bell and grabbed my coat.
I snatched a coffee, nearly choked
And semi-cartwheeled…
Cartwheeled headfirst in the rain.

I knew I had to make the train.
My life depended on the train.

A junkie stopped me for some change.
Pulled a knife…

CUT!

Like any other day,
I heard the bell and grabbed my coat.
Snatched a coffee, nearly choked
And semi-cartwheeled headfirst in the rain.

I knew I had to make that train.
My life depended on that train.

And we met there on the platform…
So you took me to your room.
And though you reached out for me; I couldn’t touch you.

I watched you melt in tears.
50,000 tears.

The radio exploded…

I found your ear wrapped in a tissue.
Tried to lose you…
Lose you…

Like any other day,
I heard the bell and grabbed my coat.
I snatched a coffee, nearly choked
And semi-cartwheeled headfirst in the rain…

I knew I had to make that train.
My life depended on that train…

(Did you get it?)

A TERRA FIRMA WELCOME

E-minus on its ancestry.
It stuttered on the phone.
Tried extensive hypnotherapy
Sat there like a stone.

They checked its pockets,
They pumped the pentathol…
Stole marrow from its bones…
Left it naked in the guest room,
Quite alone.

Debated for a year.
The casebook, it stretched from here to here…
Quoted precedents and dissidents.
And Johnny joined the space police
And searched the stars for refugees-
His finger on the stunner
In the name of earthly peace.

And when it seemed that space was empty
And the moon was made of cheese,
They decided on a terra firma ‘welcome’.

But, guess…
Our guest was now deceased…
Rest in peace…

They cut it into pieces.
They sterilized them,
They placed them in a case and charged admission.

Now I’m watching television
I see laughter in his eyes.
I hear a rumble in the sky,
They’re coming…
Yes, they’re coming for their boy!

They’re coming…
Yes, they’re coming for their boy…

 

 

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