The Legendary Pink Dots

Asylum

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First released as a double-LP set and later reissued on a single CD, Asylum is the album that best represents the Legendary Pink Dots in the '80s, which does not mean that it is the group's best album or that it makes a good point of entry into its '80s production. Albums like The Tower or Any Day Now are melodically richer and more focused, but Asylum is the album that brings together the group's songwriting and experimental leanings with the most gusto. It also captures the band coming out of its stark, cold sound of the early '80s and evolving toward relatively lusher arrangements. The opening song "Echo Police" is a typically alienating LPD new wave song, strongly reminiscent of the material found on The Tower, but soon things take a bizarre twist with "Gorgon Zola's Baby." Other more experimental tracks include "A Message from Our Sponsor," the whole fourth side of the LP release (the last four tracks on the CD), and the 11-minute "So Gallantly Screaming," which pairs up fragments of songs and tape collage. Several more straightforward songs are introduced by odd textures or include strange, disquieting developments. The album still offers its share of memorable melodies, including the off-kilter "The Hill," the Eastern-flavored "The Golden Dawn" and the near-epic "I'm the Way, The Truth, The Light," the album's highlight, with Edward Ka-Spel portraying a maniacal messiah. Asylum is also noteworthy for the inclusion of bassist/keyboardist Julia Niblock Waller (billed as "Poison Barbarella") in the lineup; she also contributes a low alto lead vocal on "Femme Mirage." This album is surely a must for the casual LPD fan, but newcomers may find these 75 minutes a tad too much (and too all over the place) to start with.

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