Last Updated on Tuesday, 19 June 2007 18:00
Artist: Legendary Pink Dots
CD Title: Crushed Mementos
Label: Plinkity Plonk Records
Reviewer: Matthew Johnson
In addition to their regular album releases, the always-prolific Legendary Pink Dots have put out tons of alternate material, including the “Chemical Playschool” series (a sort of ongoing B-sides collection that is currently in its thirteenth volume), the Legendary Pink Box, and a number of cassette-only releases. The cassette collections are especially difficult to find; they were released over twenty years ago and in extremely limited quantities. Fortunately for diehard fans, the music from these early ‘80s cassettes is finally finding its way on to CD. This most recent collection offers up five of these tracks, remastered by Dots soundman Raymond Steeg. Though the music here isn’t as coherent as the Dots’ “normal” albums – and at times is barely music in the traditional sense at all – it’s still an interesting glimpse into the early meanderings of these musical pioneers. “Close Your Eyes, You Can Be A Space Captain” is probably the most like an ordinary Dots tune; it’s dreamy, dark, and riddled with slow, clanking percussion. Where an ordinary pop song would end, though, this piece twirls off into weird rumblings, echoes, and analog keyboard sounds that practically drip from the speakers. “March” is weird, bubbly, and brief, while muffled shouts and laughter float through a fuzzy haze on “The Punchline.” Most interesting here, though, are the long instrumental pieces. “The People Tree” starts off with eerie textures before kicking in with tersely bouncing organs, progressing through thunderstorms and bombastic synthesizers, then settling into a mellow, spaced-out dub groove. It ends with several minutes of minimal, very methodical keyboards work and a short blast of sound from an old drum machine. “Premonition 15” clocks in at a half an hour, and starts off with some rather ordinary ambience, but then the sequenced violins kick in, taking the song in a classical direction. Short orchestral samples honk over chimes, beeps, and fuzz, then otherworldly bells ring us gently into space rock guitar solos. It seems amateurish, at times, and a lot of it has a “Hey, look what my keyboard just did!” feel to it. Still, it’s this playful experimentation that helped the Dots to develop into the self-taught virtuosos they are today, and these archival records give us a window into their early history.
For a more in-depth look at the Legendary Pink Dots – past, present and future – visit www.brainwashed.com/lpd.