Poppy Variations is one of several new releases from the ever so prolific Legendary Pink Dots. It’s familiar but brings new elements to the Dots sound. One of the more interesting things about Poppy Variations is the way in which each track starts one way and then goes on some muscial tangent. ‘Krussoe’ for instance starts with eastern percussion and ends in a Beatlesque brass arrangement taking in a piano reprise and a loose free form soundscape along the way. Each Dots track takes unexpected turns. There’s great use of flute and brass accompaniment to the guitar and occassional keyboard driven moments. Several of the tracks adopt a far more experimental approach but the Dots psyched-up sounds are skewed enough to frame Ka-Spel’s frequently surreal lyrics. A Spanish influence hangs over ‘L’Oiseau Rare’ where Ka-Spel’s delivers playful childlike rhyming over piano and flamenco styled guitar. A tender moment is provided on one variation on the title track where Ka-Spel reflects over a a stark piano score and solitary guitar strum. I tend to opt for the Dots’ more conventional song based approach, where Ka-Spel’s wordy explorations are ably wrapped in electronic beats and reverberating guitars, experimental touches and brass / flute arrangements.
The Dots have such an extensive body of work it’s sometimes difficult to determine an entry point but this is a good one that ought to appeal to experienced Dots listener and novices alike. Poppy Variations is released on Beta-Lactam Ring Records. A double vinyl set in an edition of 450 copies in a full colour sleeve, including a bonus side of material is also available. The songs feature a slightly different mix to the CD edition. For more information go to www.blrrecords.com
(The date of this review is unknown.)