The Legendary Pink Dots - The Gethsemane Option: CD Review

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The Legendary Pink Dots emerged out of the London post-punk scene in 1980. The fact that they are still making some of the most intriguing music around today is nothing short of incredible. The core of the group has always been Edward Ka-Spell (vocals, keyboards) and Phil Knight, a.k.a. The Silverman (keyboards, effects). For the new album The Gethsemane Option, the duo are joined by Erik Drost (guitars, bass), and Raymond Steeg (sonix). Your guess is as good as mine as to what "sonix" are, but that is Steeg's credit on this recording. If you include live albums and compilations, the Dots have over 50 releases. As The Gethsemane Option shows, they remain as inscrutable as ever.

The album seems focused on spiritual matters. The Garden of Gethsemane is at the foot of the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. According to the gospels, this is where Jesus and his disciples prayed the night before he was crucified. Based on a cursory study of the lyrics I have an idea of what Ka-Spell is doing here, but to spell it out would be wrong for a couple of reasons.

The first and most obvious is that I could be just flat-out wrong. I have a very strong feeling that the lyrics are not intended literally, so that approach would very probably be a huge mistake. But the second and more important reason goes to the root of what this band are about. I believe that what The Gethsemane Option is "about" has everything to do with what the individual listener thinks it is about. In other words, the only logic that applies here is dream logic.

Whatever the lyrical concerns are, there is no ambiguity with the music. Well, maybe there is - as it is sort of difficult to describe. The opening "A Star is Born" is a very dark and foreboding track. Beginning with "The Garden of Esher" though, a much more dirge-like mood takes over, which is perfect for the strange lyrics. "Pendulum" has been described as "Ka-Spell at the coffeehouse," based on the pseudo-beat poetry aspects. Well, it is a humorous depiction of the 11:09 track to be sure, and probably more than a little accurate as well.

There is a uncategorizable category that The Legendary Pink Dots belong to which includes friends and fellow travelers Current 93, Skinny Puppy, and the various projects of Genesis P-Orridge, among others. As pretentious as it sounds, these are Artists with the capital "A." The music of The LPD is ever-evolving, and I have always believed that the listener gets exactly what they put in to their albums. The Gethsemane Option is no exception. It is another fascinating chapter in the life of this extraordinary band.