Nemesis Online (Pitchfork Media)

Legendary Pink Dots: Nemesis Online
[Soleilmoon; 1998]
Rating: 7.5

Since their first recordings dating back to 1982, the Legendary Pink Dots have been making introspective and experimental music questioning the concepts of religion, science fiction, nature, politics, thought, emotion, and self. Utilizing glacial rhythms, concentrating on keyboard sounds that other musicians discard as unusable, and topping it all off with the eerily haunting voice of Edward Ka-Spel (credited here as Prophet Qa’Sepel) the Legendary Pink Dots have managed to worm themselves into a niche solely their own. Listening to their music is more a long, insane, hallucinogenic acid trip through a demented carnival funhouse than it is a “relaxing” musical experience, but all the same, there’s something seductive and alluring about it all. Which leaves to question why it’s so popular amongst industrial music fans.

Perhaps it’s Ka-Spel’s past collaboration with Cevin Cey of Skinny Puppy for the Teargarden project; perhaps it’s the continuing rumors of a nationwide tour with Download. Whatever the case, the band seems to attract a rather unlikely audience, and a rather dedicated one at that. Something that’s absolutely true about the band’s music is that you either get it or you don’t. The inexperienced listener may write the music off as pretentious and overdone, but once you fall into its power, the music will take control. Having been one of the inexperienced myself, I actually walked out of the last Legendary Pink Dots show I attended after only four songs, rather than risk falling asleep.

The Legendary Pink Dots’ latest hypnosis device, Nemesis Online, continues the Holland-based outfit’s musical tradition of toying with the untraditional. Jangly, jazzy, reverbed guitars float over a slow cabaret swing of various unidentifiable percussive noises, aptly sung and narrated by Ka-Spel as if he were telling a mystery story in “Dissonance”, which kicks off the record with what would be the perfect background music for a Mike Hammer film set in 2034. “As Long As It’s Purple and Green” later moves the listener into that aforementioned acid trip, creating a modern electronic version of psych-rock.

Each song is a different experience. Of course, some are more compelling than others, but each is distinct. One bit of warning is that unless you’re already a dedicated fan, this isn’t the sort of album that you’ll put into your player and immediately start dancing around to. But once you’re baited, the genius of the exotic structures will unfold in your brain like the most powerful of narcotics, and the hypnosis will settle in.

– Skaht Hansen, December 1, 1998



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