This is what Edward Ka-Spel and his motley crew have gradually built up: an ever expanding map of a weird and wonderful world. Dark forests open onto valleys of vibrant green, in turn giving way to steep mountains. There, a gleaming dark tower. And look, a travelling carnival is camping outside it, torches burning in the night, revealing and obscuring the strange faces of an unknown race. This, however, is but one tiny part of it – elsewhere, in a metropolis of steel and glass men are living a digital dream, their symbiotic co-existence with complex machinery spent in cybernetic narcolepsy.
The Legendary Pink Dots have not changed musically in any fundamental way during the last decade or so. I could basically reuse Kristoffer Noheden's review of "The Whispering Wall" from 2004, or my own of "Nemesis Online" from way back in 1998, and the description would be quite accurate – the same dynamic of calm atmospheres, jazzy interludes and occasional abrasive electronics cutting in is still prevalent, songs still shift in unexpected ways from straightforward verse-chorus pieces to intense drone stretches or psychedelic flights of imagination. This is not about repetition, however, but about further exploration of a landscape of practically endless possibilities. And as ever, the force holding it all together is Ka-Spel as storyteller, preacher, reporter and dreamer, our guide with his own unfathomable agenda. Whether speaking or singing, he effortlessly pulls you into his hypnotic narrative.
On a more mundane plane then, the starter "Torchsong" is an intense but terribly dull droning piece, a strange introduction to an album that will reveal riches aplenty later on. "My First Zonee", on the other hand, is LPD at their most accessible, an infectious ditty about cellphone fetishism using Niels van Hoorn's woodwind artistry to great effect. The rest of the album delves deeper into the magnificent dream worlds for which the band is best known, and which cannot be sufficiently recommended.