Akarso: Parallel Chlorophyll Regions (Highwater)
Spy vs. Spy: Spy vs Spy (Subjugation)
The Legendary Pink Dots: The Pre-Millennial Single (Soleilmoon)
I wouldn't be surprised if the Heaven's Gate incident was on The Legendary Pink Dots' minds as well when they were making this EP. It's distinctly steeped in cult lore, from the Wicker Man cover art to the content of the songs themselves almost as though this were a concept EP about the cult experience. Additionally it's very astronomy focused, which relates back the Heaven's Gate even more concretely. The way that the cult angle is approached here is supremely varied, with each track going at the subject from a different angle. "Hellsville" reimagines that sort of mass suicide ritual as a children's game, complete with sing-song chant, and as a sort of public entertainment. "Andromeda Suite" and "Abracadabra zzzz" are both more ambient takes on the concept, the former bookended by sales pitch platitudes with a meaty center of graceful, moderately threatening ambience, while the latter indulges in vaguely shamanistic chanting and hypnotic grooves to bring the EP to a trance-like close. They may not be as as solidly cult-based as the other tracks but in light of the overall theme it's not a huge stretch to paint them with the same brush.
And then there's "Needles (Version Sirius)". It's a track that I don't think words can do justice to, so please go seek it out and listen to it. Go ahead, I'll wait...
I'm a sucker for a truly creepy spoken word piece, and this might just be the alpha and omega of that particular subgenre, using the malleable, unique voice of Edward Ka-Spel to deliver a small monologue wherein so much happens. You hear a father basically asking his son to join the rest of the family in a small-scale suicide ritual, but as it goes on you hear the son slowly losing his faith in the family unit. As Ka-Spel's voice gets more and more theatrical and unreal it's almost like you're hearing the son in that scenario slowly realize that his family is irredeemably insane. It's a singularly harrowing piece, both on a lyrical level and a musical one, but it's also pitch black comedy if you listen to it a certain way. This is the kind of thing that the band can't do too often, but when they do and they execute it as well as they do on "Needles" it's a real treat.
It's also a treat to hear this incarnation of the band's sound as compared to the earlier versions shich left me a bit cold. Half of the impact of "Needles" comes down to the increasingly frantic and menacing musical backdrop that the band provides, and the other tunes, "Hellsville" especially benefit from the much more energetic and dark sound that the Dots were playing with at this stage. It's a sound that's very well suited to the material presented here, and even more so than the singular experience of "Needles" it's the reason i might call this my favorite LPD release if pressed. [9.1/10]