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LEGENDARY PINK DOTS (LPD) - Five Days

Format: CD-R
Label & Cat.Number: Legendary Pink Dots - self released
Release Year: 2015
Note: regular new studio album, so far only released by LPD on CDR - lim. 199 handmade cardboard cover..."the only real thread holding all of the endlessly morphing electronic fantasia together is Ka-Spels voice. Almost everything else seems completely fleeting and illusory." [Anthony D'Amico / brainwashed]
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"This has been a very perplexing and curious year for the historically prolific Dots, as they have maintained a constant stream of updates about new releases without ever quite releasing anything substantialjust an endless flow of live vault releases, outtakes, cryptic collaborations, cryptic solo albums, digital-only holiday surprises, teasers for upcoming albums, and a few extremely limited (and instantly vanished) records on small European labels. It was starting to feel a lot like I was receiving ghost transmissions from a dead planet, but before I became completely convinced that the Dots were either dead or had never actually existed in the first place, they unexpectedly produced the deeply abstract, surreal, and fragmented Five Days. While a bit too amorphous and diffuse to rank among their best work, it is certainly complex and hallucinatory enough to temporarily sate my hunger for new material.

To my credit, I am not nearly obsessive enough of an LPD fan to try to figure out if there is any link between Five Days and 1990s Four Days, though the link could easily be something as simple as just another prosaic statement about how long it took to record. I am also not obsessive enough to try to figure out if the narrative thread that runs throughout this album ties into any other albums within the multifarious Edward Ka-Spel-verse, but I am absolutely certain that the storyline is enough of a kaleidoscopic fever dream that it would not matter at all if it did. While it is ostensibly a concept album with plot and characters, those elements seem to exist primarily just to give some structure to an otherwise totally disorienting and lysergic trip down the rabbit hole of Ka-Spel's mind. In fact, I wonder how knowingly involved the rest of the band even was (there are no credits), as Five Days sounds like it could easily be a mountain of unrelated studio scraps weaved together as the backdrop for a phantasmagoric, fitfully narrated plunge into abstract experimentation to fill the time between more substantial projects.

Regardless of how Five Days was created, there is no denying that Ka-Spel knows how to collage together an impressively crafted and distinctive vision. This album is basically a mirage built on shifting sands, as I am never quite clear what is happening nor do I ever fully remember what has happened before, as there are no hooks, grooves, or noticeable recurring themes (or much in the way of human warmth or recognizable instruments): the only real thread holding all of the endlessly morphing electronic fantasia together is Ka-Spels voice. Almost everything else seems completely fleeting and illusory. The beauty of that approach, however, is that occasionally strong themes surface to surprise and captivate me, most notably Ka-Spel's languorously sing-song and menacing pronouncements in "In Search of the Golden Crest" ("Bad news, friend: you failed the test"). Another highlight is the brief interlude in "Shades of Sorrow/The Oxygen Tent" where the piece briefly blossoms into a chattering hum of overlapping voices. I also quite enjoyed the blearily queasy poetry of "Thou Shalt Not Grow Old," and the drugged and hazy chamber music of "The First World Flag."

If Five Days has any serious faults, the primary one is that it is just not a memorable album, though that is at least partially by design. The other is the omnipresent brooding synths and half-spoken/half-sung storytelling sounds extremely familiar at this point. It is not entirely fair to critique Legendary Pink Dots for sounding exactly like themselves, but they have already recorded a mountain of material in a very similar vein, so the only parts that make my ears perk up at this point are those that depart somewhat from business-as-usual. There is admittedly a healthy amount of such moments strewn throughout Five Days, but it is still not quite enough to warrant excitement on my end. There is quite a lot of water-treading happening herenot exactly filler, but nevertheless a lot of waiting for something transcendent to emerge from the numbing familiarity. While I personally prefer this abstract/experimental side of LPD's aesthetic to their more song-based material, it has definitely been better done elsewhere (and often), so this will probably not be an album that I go back to very often. Given that Ka-Spel and his bandmates have been treading this territory for more than 30 years now, it is hardly a surprise that they occasionally find themselves in a holding pattern rather than in the midst of a major creative breakthrough. Completists and die-hard fans will probably still find plenty to enjoy, I imagine, but Five Days is at best a solid and mostly unexceptional entry into the LPD oeuvre." [Anthony D'Amico / Brainwashed]



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