Alchemical Playschool

THE LEGENDARY PINK DOTS

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Cover ImageRelease date and tracklist

2006
US CD Caciocavallo CAD32

2007
2×10″ LP Caciocavallo CAL32 (alternate cover)

18 March 2013
MP3 self-released on Bandcamp

  1. Part One – [MP3]
  2. Part Two – [MP3]
  3. Part Three – [MP3]
  4. Part Four – [MP3]

Credits

  • Edward Ka-Spel – Voice, circuit bent flower
  • The Silverman – Keyboards, Electronics
  • Raymond Steeg – sound wizardry
  • Charles Powne- soundscapes from India

Notes

Based on the double CD of field recordings “Indian Soundscapes” released in 2004 by Soleilmoon.
CD: limited to 400 copies packaged in a cloth bag inside a soap stone box with trident symbol eteched into the stone.
LP: 2×10″ limited to 250 copies, presented in a deluxe silkscreened gatefold folder made of recycled sugarcane fiber, with a full-color 9.5 x 20 inch (24 x 51 cm) poster, and each record is stored in its own hand-made marigold flower petal-infused, plastic lined sleeve.

***

From Bandcamp: Could there be a more satisfying project for The Dots than “Alchemical Playschool?”
The concept was devised by Old friend and collaborator Charles Powne at Soleilmoon Records who became besotted by the sub-continent of India around a decade ago.
In fact he wanted to share his experiences and recorded the environment almost wherever he went.These recordings were made available on the fascinating “Indian Soundscapes” double cd on Soleilmoon.
Even so, he still wanted to go a step further and that’s where the Dots’ came in.He asked us to provide musical soundscapes ,using his field recordings as a source.
We did our best. All manner of instrumentation came into play- most notably on Part 1 with the circuit bent flower, which was made for EK by a genius friend in San Francisco named Tom Koch (Univac).
It took a few months to make the music, and longer to make the package- a handmade soapstone box which had to be shipped from India- almost impossibly fragile and extremely beautiful.
2,000 were made but it’s now long out-of-print, although the more regular reissue is a small delight in it’s own right.
No remaster necessary for this one. –E K-S


Press Release

“Alchemical Playschool” is easily one of the most unusual Legendary Pink Dots albums ever released. Based on the LP and double CD “Indian Soundscapes” (Soleilmoon SOL 114/SOL 114 CD), these recordings are best enjoyed with a cold glass of Bhang Ki Thandai, following which the operation of heavy equipment or motor vehicles is strongly discouraged. Yes, this a trippy, psychedelic album, in the tradition of earlier “Chemical Playschool” albums, but it’s been dusted with magical powders from The Orient, making it an altogether different experience from its predecessors. As experimental and esoteric works go, this is the band’s definitive work. The album was conceived at the end of the the Dots’ 2004 North American tour. Edward Ka-Spel met with Soleilmoon owner Charles Powne, who had recently returned from a stay in India. Charles gave Edward a copy of his “Indian Soundscapes” 2xCD, and invited him to take the material and use it in a new Dots recording. The resulting music borrows lightly from the source material, deftly blends it with the band’s signature electronic wizardry, and distills a potent brew redolent with the aromas of saffron, cardamom and flowers. We think you’ll find it both irresistable and unforgettable. The first edition of “Alchemical Playschool” was released on May 8, 2006, as a CD box set limited to 400 copies. It sold out in a matter of weeks. This vinyl edition, limited to 250 copies, is presented in a deluxe silkscreened gatefold folder made of recycled sugarcane fiber, with a full-color 9.5 x 20 inch (24 x 51 cm) poster, and each record is stored in its own hand-made marigold flower petal-infused, plastic lined sleeve. While Soleilmoon is famous (or infamous?) for unique packaging and high quality presentation, this album stands above the rest. The audio content, however, is identical to the CD edition, so no one should feel compelled to purchase this record unless they love vinyl as much as we do!

 


Reviews

East Indian soundscapes meet noisy experimentalism, but the extravagant packaging ensures only diehard fans will hear this. The most obvious aspect of the latest Legendary Pink Dots release is the package it comes in: a hinged box of imported soapstone with the band’s logo hand-carved on the front. It’s exquisite, but its fragile and expensive nature pushes it right out of the price range of all but the most fervent Dots fans. This is too bad, because Alchemical Playschool is easily one of the most distinguished of the band’s more noise-oriented recordings. Crafted in part from the Indian Soundscapes collection of field recordings issued by Soleilmoon, it’s reminiscent of Nurse With Wound’s Shipwreck Radio project, with the sweaty bustling streets of central Asia standing in for the cold tranquility of the northern European fishing village. Divided into four parts, it incorporates such city sounds as ringing telephones and rain on dirt roads, as well as a number of snippets of street music, ranging from the cacophonous squeal of bagpipes on Part One to the more soothing ragas and chants of Parts Three and Four, respectively. Part Two is most recognizable as a Dots recording, with vocalist Edward Ka-Spel delivering spoken word over nervewracking electronic buzzing, but still evokes India: the spoken word comes from the Kama Sutra (it’s less salacious than it sounds; the passage in question concerns the qualities a man should avoid in a prospective bride). The Dots aesthetic pervades the rest of the album in a subtler ways, but it’s still apparent in the playful but somehow disquieting use of manipulated speech, samples, and vintage analog synthesizers. The Indian atmosphere is what makes this unique though, and even more casual Dots fans who might feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the band’s output are encouraged to seek this out. Soleilmoon has indicated plans to issue a less extravagant edition in the future; hopefully this will happen sooner rather than later, as this is one of the most interesting forays into sound manipulation the Dots have recorded. – Matthew Johnson, Regen

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Perhaps the press text says it all: “The audio content, however, is identical to the CD edition, so no one should feel compelled to purchase this record unless they love vinyl as much as we do!”. I like vinyl, but overlooking my castle, I realize I don’t have enough space for vinyl, so when it comes to preferring one or the other, I opt for the CD version. But both the CD version and the double 10″ version look great. The stone soap box versus the handmade paper (“deluxe silkscreened gatefold folder mae of recycled sugarcane fiber, with a full color poster, and each record is stored in its own hand-made marigold flower petal-infused, plastic lines sleeve” mind you). As for the music, not different than before, we return to Vital Weekly 529, when Freek Kinkelaar wrote (wrongly credited to me actually): “Alchemical Playschool is an altogether different beast. It comes packed in a beautiful trident-carved soapstone box that weighs a ton. Here the Dots-core of Edward Kaspel and Phil Knight rework environmental sound-material recorded in India (by Charles Powne of Soleilmoon records, the original recordings are available on CD as Indian Soundscapes). In doing so the Dots create a beautiful dreamscape. The four long tracks (parts one to four) evoke scenes of the East with street sounds, crowd noises, voices and field recordings drifting in and out. At times the results are pastoral and on other occasions downright hectic – just as you’d imagine India to sound like. Part Four, with its beautiful voice sample and washes of sound, forms the highlight of this fascinating album. Alchemical Playschool is welcome proof that the Dots are still willing and able to create exiting experimental music.” Quite right there. At 250 copies a certified pre-programmed collectors item. – Frans de Waard, Vital Weekly

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