Thursday, September 24, 2020
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Title: All the King’s Horses
Format: CD
Label: Big Blue
Distributor: Audioglobe
The Pink Dots have been haunting our ears and brains for decades and they still do... Lyricist and vocalist Edward Ka-spel and keyboard-player Silverman have been joined by Dutch musicians on guitars, violins, sax and other wind instruments; all together they lead us down the dark visions that we have learnt to cherish, coming as they do from the Dots. Other bands wouldn’t get away with it, would be written off as self-indulgent. In fact, repetition over the years doesn’t lessen the impact at all, if anything it makes the picture ever richer with details. It is good that the this new Cd, published by a Polish label, has all the lyrics in the booklet. Most of the songs are ballads full of love cherished or remembered in the midst of ruin and apocalypse. Black humour has always been the Dots trademark: fancy opening a Cd with the words of love sent by a passenger on a crashing plane to a woman who is probably sleeping with her lover! Ka-spel may be the poet of day-to-day desperation, but he is painting the bleakness awaiting us with such an unusual and clear-eyed palette that we feel we have gained knowledge and not just shared in another queue to Doomsday.Musically, there haven’t been sharp revolutions over the years. The Dots are not the kind of bands who feel the need for a fashionable brush-up. You have to like Edward’s unique voice, sad, plaintive and warm; the use of keyboards as well as the arrangements will sound to someone eerily outdated, despite Raymond Steeg’s sound wizardry (far from brash and assertive). The Dots pursue a line of composition which has woven in a very personal way New wave, Progressive, complex songwriting: they have followed their own path in such a degree that they are virtually in their own field. If I have some reservations, they have to do with the tracks where the sax comes in (doesn’t do too much for me, I am afraid), or the partly improvised "A Bargain at Half a Price", a jazz-rock-prog piece. But as long as Ka-spel sings with his mellow voice disturbing fancy-tales such as "Lisa Goes Surfing", I for one don’t care if there is a sax too much. I have always believed that the Dots’ lyrics are on a par with the best poems around. They are steeped in fantasy and shot through with love and compassion, laughter and tears. And they are not afraid to point their finger at the biggest delusion of humankind: Power and powergames. There is also an uncomprising politics at the heart of it all, from a band that virtually chose exile rather than staying on in Thatcherite Britain. And the arrogant voice of the day-to-day imperialist (the Western tourist) can be heard in "It’s the real thing": "I’m a tourist at the poorest place on Earth. I’ve got a straw hat, palm tree shirt. Throw a cent, they’ll lick you – bring you Monkey-on-a-Stick.... Deep down they know they are here to serve the Sun King. Hear me hum God Save the Queen’". Amen.


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