This 1997 entry from the band’s continuing exploration in dark psychedelia is, like so many of the Legendary Pink Dots’ efforts, a winner in both quiet and overwhelming modes. Sliding into things with the steady “On High,” Edward Ka-Spel and his merry men aren’t going to provide longtime listeners with any surprises, but as with most of their late-’90s albums, the combination of rich recording and production quality with subtle twists and variations works very well. The looped rhythm of “Harvest Babies,” leading into a dramatic keyboard/guitar conclusion that conveys a sense of the band’s strong live power, reflects the band’s not-quite-relationship with modern electronic dance, though the roots are generally more in space rock trance than Goa. Mellower songs like “Mekkanikk” and “Destined to Repeat” show how the band’s sense of drama and space can work just as effectively on low volume as well as on overload, as well as giving Ka-Spel a chance to make his cryptic imagery stand out more strongly. Ka-Spel‘s vocals in particular bring up some understated differences — consider the shift on “Spike,” where it almost sounds like he’s biting down on his word once the full chug of the song starts, or the buried delivery on “All Sides” and the a cappella, conversational beginning of “The Saucers Are Coming.” That the latter song turns into the killer freak-out on the album — at once paranoid and a charge to the heavens — seems only appropriate. One of the best moments is “Sterre,” with its acoustic guitar start and gentle, mournful air (Niels Van Hoornblower‘s clarinet/sax work here, set against some delicate electric guitar wails, makes for an entrancing conclusion). “Lucifer Landed” has a similar start and an even more stripped-down, calm air — it’s one of the band’s most conventional songs in ways, all without losing Ka-Spel‘s obsessive focus or the detailed arrangement that the collective band is known for.
by Ned Raggett
(The date of this review is unknown.)