The Legendary Pink Dots

Stained Glass Soma Fountains

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When the band's first four albums were re-released on Soleilmoon in the late '90s, the original plan was to include a variety of outtakes and rare songs. The plan wasn't carried out, but a slew of rarities from the time, along with other obscure numbers, did pop up later as the two-disc Stained Glass Soma Fountains collection. Given the sheer size of the Legendary Pink Dots' discography, Stained Glass is clearly an album for the obsessive rather than the casual fan, first and foremost. Said obsessive fans will revel in what's here, however, including some of the earliest songs the group recorded, a few being almost conventionally twinky art pop as opposed to totally harrowing. One, the very murkily recorded "April's Song," was even done when the band itself was still known in mid-'80 as One Day..., and features possibly Ka-Spel's most winsome vocal ever. There aren't any real surprises throughout the two-disc set, but it is nice to hear how with even a simple approach -- cheap drum machines, on the earliest tracks only a four-track machine for recording -- the band can create such unsettled, fractured music. A fair amount of Stained Glass is given over to selections from the band's series of Traumstadt cassettes from the late '80s; like the remaining songs, there's no real sense of organization given to them, but such treats as the nursery rhyme-quoting "Plague 2" and the purring loops of "Ice Baby Cometh" don't need it. The examples of the group's wry humor are present not merely in the music but also elsewhere; the opening cut, "A Pale Green Introduction/Love on a Pale Green Postage Stamp," is listed in the liner notes as being from "a compilation on a label which shall remain nameless."

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