CELEBRATING 25 YEARS of intriguing and eclectic music-making, British/Dutch band Legendary Pink Dots has never really filled a genre market niche. Their music is too catchy to be experimental noise, too psychedelic to be goth, too quirky to be neo-classical, too musical theater to be pop, and too all of that other stuff to be punk.
Over the course of 20-plus albums (plus about as many solo albums by front person Edward Ka-Spel), lush synths creepy crawl around processed voices, scalp massaging bass lines, meandering delayed guitar, and crafty piano melodies. Moody and mysterious, the Dots can leap from an atmospheric keyboard and wind-instrument jam with far-out classic rock and Pink Floyd-style guitar progressions to klezmer gypsy music to demonic pitch-shifted shouting in the course of several minutes.
Pure revelers of experimentation, the band has been guilty of some poor choices musically, but these mistakes also bring accolades from lovers of brave music. Never enjoying huge recognition, many of their albums are already out of print and somewhat pricey investments. However, the band's perseverance has accumulated a small, but extremely loyal fan club.
Personifying desperate loneliness and alienation in a way that is endearing without being apologetic for the sentiment, singer Edward Ka-Spel is a brilliant prophet of a vocalist. His morose sleep-talk monotone spoken/sung delivery crafts tales of survival from inner darkness with Dadaist optimism. His native East London accent is typically mistaken for a lisp and is oftentimes compared to Syd Barrett. His literature-based approach to lyric composition serves confessional narratives through scenarios of creepy introspective characters as if from Dostoevsky or Kafka novels. Throughout the Dots and his equally prolific, yet somehow more esoteric and focused solo career, Ka-Spel has birthed and reared a mythology, complete with made-up words, reoccurring characters, and self-references. He is probably the only singer who can churn his vocals through a pitch shifter and have it sound more sincere than hideous. And his bipolar songwriting steers between powerfully sinister, chaotic, and even hilarious, as if piecing together images from dreams.
Certainly the City of Roses is lucky to have independent labels Beta-lactam Ring and Soleilmoon call it home, as much of the catalog of Ka-Spel's solo career in particular has been released locally. As a result, the band rolls through more often than other American cities. Their new album, Your Children Placate You from Premature Graves, is full of eccentric psychedelic jams that are sure to bring a fully satisfying performance.