Sonic collective dwells in experimental realms 

The Legendary Pink Dots have become one of the most prolific and respected artists in the realm of experimental music since their formation in 1980. The group originated in London and evolved into a cast of revolving musicians led by head Dot Edward Ka-Spel. Through extensive recording, they created a unique psychedelic hybrid of industrial-strength synthesizers and organic instruments, which resulted in diverse careers both for the band and Ka-Spel as a solo artist. In the process they influenced hordes of underground and art-rock bands on both sides of the Atlantic.

The Dots have touched down in Orlando previously, at the now-defunct venue The Edge, but for their upcoming show at the House of Blues Ka-Spel will perform in an opening set with his side project, The Twilight Circus Dub Sound System.

The Dots' dissonant folk-meets-industrial psychedelic brew is revisited on their latest release, "Nemesis Online." The new recording reflects the many possibilities and challenges of modern-day life -- a theme that has been inherent in the Legendary Pink Dots' music from their start. The album's title itself was an absurd twist on an e-mail message that a playfully paranoid Ka-Spel received when "Nemesis Online" was going to press. "It was from somebody at," he says in a trans-Atlantic interview from Amsterdam. "And I thought, ‘Oh my God, I've got nemesis online.'"

But the Dots first made their mark in the pre-Internet world of '80s underground music. Ka-Spel and partner Phil Knight moved their collective to Amsterdam in the middle of the decade. They worked constantly and prolifically, appealing to sophisticated electronic aficionados and post-adolescent goth and underground music fans who were turned on to Ka-Spel's doom-and-gloom lyrics -- subject matter that may have fueled numerous rumors detailing allegedly successful suicide attempts by Ka-Spel. He would later collaborate with a member of the semi-legendary industrial band Skinny Puppy. He and cEVIN Key recorded as the Tear Garden, and Ka-Spel recorded as a solo act to amass a catalog of more than 40 sonic documents.

Due to distribution problems, most of the Legendary Pink Dots' work will be unavailable until 1999, but they intend to keep their fans satisfied with "Nemesis Online." The album took a mere six weeks to record, an unusually short period for the Dots, according to Ka-Spel. And unlike most of their previous work, the recording process was a bit more spontaneous. "A lot of things began from improvisations within the band," says Ka-Spel. "Be it from an interesting loop that somebody would find or, you know, just a bit of sparring between us."

One of the album's stand-out tracks, "As Long as It's Purple and Green," serves as a fine example of that spontaneity. Ka-Spel wrote his lyrics as the music unfolded in the studio. Though he confesses that the lyrics are usually penned after the music has been written, Ka-Spel feels they are just as relevant. "They're incredibly important because in a way, I'm giving you an insight into myself," he says. "I don't want to cast any illusions or tell any lies about myself. ... It's like my personal fantasies. It's the dark side. It's the lighter side, the humor, the melancholy."

Ka-Spel gets excited when the conversation turns to their upcoming American tour. He says that European audiences are appreciative enough, but they especially look forward to their U.S. shows because the audiences are younger and seem more inspired. "The States is definitely the exciting place for us to go," says Ka-Spel.

More by Daniel Fuller


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