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Legendary Pink Dots – Chemical Playschool 15


LPD - CP15As Legendary Pink Dot chemistry lessons go, this latest instalment to the series burns with a slow slip of reality, the simplest backbone of rhythm caught in the tattered net curtains of Edward Ka-Spel’s mind. Absorbing word weaves hooking you in as the trancelike vibes dribble the vowel fall, reflecting everything back panoramically from inside an idea’s skeletal sheen.

Love “Immaculate Conception”‘s agoraphobic airs: the slippery backing echoing uncertainty as the confidence of the first couple of verses transpires to reveal a world where just looking out of the window presents a scary abyss. The plodding optimism of a synth molested in backward sucks and the gently-folded spectral light of vaporised paranoia, ending in a distance shot tide of soft focused curls and insect vocodings.

“Sparks Fly” bubbles, a modulation burbling to a hand-held play of exposed electrical wires. An arsonist’s fantasy of slo-mo flame and flaky glitch caked crystal. “Watch sparks fly,” smears Ka-Spel as a repetitive and pungent aroma is ‘copter-fed in gravelling swirl holes of spacey detailing, an embroidery of valvic instability, rumbling drone and ashy ambiance… is that an ambulance crew coming through the sloshing ethers? Or is it now a haunted ring tone in some abandoned call centre? Totally love the way this music throws up more questions than it answers, prods your imagination from different textural angles like a wayward This Mortal Coil milking those shifting dreamlike ambiguities for all it’s worth.

Suddenly women’s laughter breaks the mood, cleanses the palette as “Museum” waves on in to an hilariously observed landslide of black humour: “If I step outside will I be trampled by a uncontrollable herd of guide dogs?” goes Edward. “If I voice my dissent, will they beat me with their white sticks?” adding sarcastically, “…that is, if I don’t move too fast for them… wear a top hat, paint myself luminous pink…”‘ He quickly shifts to cancerous bluster on the commercial, “…an insult to colour… washed down with the cheapest instant coffee!” he rants as your ears are baked in tape canker, ritualised breath and cum-faced whoreings. A whirr of industrialised rebus, hosed down in angels drifting out on the edge of a blazing skyscraper, Merztints flowing over “No-one can touch me!” repeats.

The hushed delivery of “The Opium Den 1-3” bends out from the sumptuous automatism of the previous track, draws you into a delirium of warping angles and spreading perspectives. A literal drug-fuelled observation as a slumberised piano descends a spiral staircase dissolving in the flitter of glassy moths. Pure sensation in whispered deliquesce, connecting you to the great between, you sink further away from consciousness in stretched out exhalation, to finally collapse into the euphoric wrappers of an oscillating refrain.

In contrast, “Ranting and Raving” is an electro-splattered number, describing a dream life where you hold the wheel, a paradise of bliss you’re wrenched out of at 6am to a grim reality that you’re just a forgotten component in somebody else’s schemes: “Rise’n’shine, it’s raining outside, wear a lifebelt,” Edward sardonically adding, “I’ll need it!” It’s a great poke at the grand planners of this life and the imagined revenge their smugness deserves; later he adds mockingly, “Oh, look they’re playing your tune,” as this threadbare monkey toy claps inanely to squinting shortwaves and leaky circuitry.

This great slice of personal psychedelia finally wanders out on a hypnotist’s fall of repeated suggestion poured leisurely over radio surfing shimmers, an “Immaculate Conclusion” to the words “You all belong to me;” and for 55 minutes you really get the impression that you do.

-Michael Rodham-Heaps-


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