The Legendary Pink Dots / Edward Ka-Spel:
Plutonium Blonde / Dream Logik Part Two
[ROIR / Beta-Lactam Ring; 2008 / 2008]
Rating: 6.9 / 6.5
The Legendary Pink Dots don’t just live in their own world– in a lot of ways, they are their own world. It’s a world that doesn’t change at the same pace as ours. In fact, it scarcely has changed at all in almost thirty years. While irony is king in the world we’re trapped in most of the time, irony doesn’t even seem to exist in LPD land. The music is weird and willfully obscure, but it’s honestly weird and unpretentiously obscure. It’s a neat place to escape to if you’re willing to buy into the strange aural juxtapositions and Edward Ka-Spel’s r-less enunciation and odd lyrical predilections.
“My learning curve was so acute it formed a perfect circle/ My whole wide world was virtual so I sank back in my shell,” we hear on the opening lines from “Cubic Caesar”, giving a fair measurement of the band’s collective brainwave. Like many of their records, Plutonium Blonde flows like a stream of unconsciousness, morphing with shocking suddenness from twitching synth patterns and washes of pink noise to, say, a lovely banjo line that accompanies a sing-songy ode to the mailman. Addled sax wanders in and out, the band flirts with a brand of English folk that sounds like the soundtrack for a Ren Faire for Robots, and at the middle of it is Ka-Spel, who sings like a man with the mind of a mystic and the disposition of a child. The most brutal passage on the album is the last portion of “Oceans Blue”, where barely anything happens at all– the soft-toned keyboard that plays an intermittent chord is surrounded by silence so dense it’s malevolent.
This adds up to a whole that can be at once ominous, fantastical, wondrous, and above all unique. If listening to LPD is like visiting another world, listening to Ka-Spel’s latest solo outing, Dream Logik Part Two, is like ducking into someone else’s mind for a quick pint. Dream logic does indeed seem to be the organizing principle of a record Ka-Spel performs on his own, though he does credit “Ghosts” with “the bits in between” all the instruments he plays. He credits himself variously with “broken things” and “technological wonders,” and his dream world produces some weirdly lucid and accessible moments, though these are all surrounded by sped-up alien voices, passages of beatless drift, sour baroque keyboard figures, spoken word bits that sound as though recorded in large, wet rooms, straight, scraping noise, and a paean to a centipede named Cedric wherein the main rhythm is at first supplied by Ka-Spel counting to three in German.
Suffice to say, if you’re not already a fan of the Dots, this is likely not the place to start, though if you are a fan, have at it. I need to mention the quite astounding artwork for the Ka-Spel disc. It’s a multi-panel, book-bound fold-out deal that conceals a slipcase and it’s covered in psychotic, psychedelic Bosch portraits by artist Jesse Peper. It is a substantial package to say the least. The Dots artwork isn’t nearly as spectacular, but the album is another invitingly strange foray into their singular way of doing things, and one that will undoubtedly please their cult.
Reviewer: Joe Tangari
October 29, 2008