The Legendary Pink Dots' final album in a long association with the Belgian art-rock label Play It Again Sam, 1995's NINE LIVES TO WONDER is something of a departure for the London-bred, Amsterdam-based group. The songs are largely based on multiple layers of acoustic guitars, with the band's usual ticking sequencers and space-rock keyboards placed well into the background.
This gives songs like the pensive opener "Madame Guillotine," the oddly poppy "A Crack in Melancholy Time" and the repetitive, Enoesque "Nine Shades to the Circle" a richness lacking on earlier Dots albums such as MALACHI. Leader Edward Ka-Spel appears to be in a more direct mood than usual, and so the songs, while retaining the extended musical structures and oblique metaphors, are more immediate and inviting. Newcomers cowed by the massiveness of the Legendary Pink Dots' oeuvre might find NINE LIVES TO WONDER a good starting point.