1. Scarlet Wish
3. Colour Wheel
4. The Disaster Area
5. Nouveaux Modes Exotiques
7. The Man With the Cutglass Heart
8. Little Romeo
9. Kleine Juliet
10. Saucers #1
11. Premonition 19
Originally offered for sale on The Legendary Pink Dots 1997 tour of the US, Chemical Playschool Vol. 10 has subsequently been released by Soleilmoon — the band’s new label in America. The CD contains twelve songs recorded between 1992 and 1997, and is a kaleidoscopic presentation of the many moods and sounds of this legendary band. Here are flashbacks to 1970s acid rock, sound collages, jam sessions, garage rock songs, synth-based space excursions, instrumental musings, and a few tracks for which no fitting predicate comes to mind.
Chemical Playschool Vol. 10 opens with the kind of song The Legendary Pink Dots does so well; at once perturbed and joyful, “Scarlet Wish” combines beauty and whimsy. The underlying theme is a jingly little lilting keyboard melody, over which Edward Kaspel‘s voice echoes. “…So much left to live for,” he sings knowingly, as an ancient man may speak to a group of children. The lyrics are, as always with Kaspel, highly poetic and poignant, (and it would have made this great CD complete, had it contained a lyric sheet).
On the next song, the Pink Dots invite their listeners into their garage for a song that harks back to the late 70s, and in the bass and ‘drones’ arrangements echo early Joy Division. “Inside” displays the looser, grittier, less streamlined side of the band, even if a presence of ‘space’ sounds do creep into the soundpicture somewhere halfway through the piece.
“Colour Wheel” begins with the sound of waves, and is a short dreamy song, with a nostalgic keyboard theme carrying along Edward‘s rather surreal lyrics. The soothing sound of waves and the arrangement of the vocals give the song the feel of a lullaby.
The next two tracks are both instrumental, and while “The Disaster Area” is best described as a feverish jam session on acid, “Nouveaux Modes Exotiques,” on the contrary, is a very laid back tune. The latter piece features guest lounge-jazzy percussion by cEvin Key, and, being a rather extended affair, the mood conjured up by the music is that of staring out of one’s window for hours on a rainy day.
From the earthy and lackadaisical atmosphere of the past two songs, Legendary Pink Dots plunges into the realms of angst and the outer cosmos on the next two. “Glasshouse” is a simple but very effective song. An organ theme supports the despairing vocals, which have been treated to the point, where Kaspel sounds like he is positively choking on his own words. Of a much more expansive sound, “The Man with the Cutglass Heart” is propelled forward by streaming layers of sequenced synth chords. Here, Kaspel‘s vocals are strong and clear with a hint of an echo. In the vein of the fantastic Legendary Pink Dots song “Andromeda Suite” (on Chemical Playschool Vol. 8&9), this is a space-symphonic song of cosmic distances and longings.
With “Little Romeo,” Legendary Pink Dots return to earth. This song again has a more improvisational feel, Key once more doubles on drums, although on this track he gets his workout for the day with some very dynamic percussions. The following companion piece “Kleine Juliet” is instrumental, and, in a much more subtle way, carries on the improvisational airs of the preceding track.
“Saucers #1” shows an altogether different face of the band. The vocal side is largely of a narrational or commentational quality, as Kaspel whips up a tongue-in-cheek atmosphere of paranoia, with his warnings of the impending arrival of “the saucers.” The piece is quite long and builds to a rather chaotic climax, in which Nils van Hornblower plays a considerable part on his blaring saxophone.
“Premonition 19” is another very extended segment that can best be described as pure sound. Apparently the piece is a collage of past Legendary Pink Dots material assembled into a long spacey voyage into the band’s own private universe of sound.
The CD closes with a piece that is close to ‘spoken word’ by Kaspel. Jingly effect sounds fill in the background, giving the piece the kind of dreamlike, dazed feel that is so typical of The Legendary Pink Dots.
Finally, the cover of this CD deserves to be mentioned. The Legendary Pink Dots invited their fans to send in artwork for use on the disc, and from the submissions they chose five or six pieces. The booklet and inlay card are thus decorated with a series of very different and psychedelic paintings, which nicely reflect the diverse nature of the music featured on this release.