The Legendary Pink Dots

Shadow Weaver, Part 2: Malachai

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Conceived and released as the sequel to Shadow Weaver and featuring the same overall lineup (with the addition of a second guest performer Nurse With Wound main man Steve Stapleton, who also co-produces), Malachai tackles everything from late-night beatnik vibes to flat-out prog weirdness from the outer limits with style. Starting with the nicely queasy roil of "Joey the Canary," soft acoustic strumming mixing with everything from quietly echoed flutes to a buried, just threatening enough tribal drum roll, the album serves up 70 minutes of worthiness. In its own way, Malachai could be a useful starting point for the Dots' newcomer, given that the core band was not only well in tune with each other, but that the balance between creepy alien vibes and moody, magnificent psychedelia is well-struck here. Quirky playfulness as much as oddity defines cut-up songs like "Window on the World," while Martijn de Kleer in particular deserves notice for his multi-instrument abilities -- besides the drums, he plays some great electric guitar (solos that sting and snarl without descending into fret-flash being a speciality). The exquisite acoustic-based ballads that were the band's hallmark in ways in the early '90s take a bow here, with a standout being "Kingdom of the Flies" (featuring Ryan Moore on lead, a nice shift from his usual bass efforts). Moore's well-known dub fetish gets airing here and there -- "Encore Une Fois" has both the easygoing lope and the random sonic additions and twists to suit the field (VanHoorne in particular has some fun), while the immediately following "Wildlife Estate" is even stranger, trebly, twinkly, and more than a little unnerving. Nice historical touch -- "Pavane," a low-key zone-out/noodle that takes its name from a processional dance from Renaissance times.

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