Legendary Pink Dots

Faux spookiness of the Count Floyd/Count Chocula variety is everywhere; just turn on MTV2, or head to your local counterculture shlock shop for a dose of unintentionally hilarious "goth" aesthetics. But for 25 years, the London-via-Amsterdam band Legendary Pink Dots have proffered a rarer, truer kind of darkness. Your Children Placate You from Premature Graves--which is approximately the band's 28th, or 46th release, depending on whether you count live albums and EPs--is subtly, eclectically and actually disturbing. On "No Matter What You Do" unfussy singer Edward Ka-Spel chews on religion's snagging edges--"Jesus loves the little children, even when they torch the cat"--over spacey Anglo-dub and storms of feedback. "Stigmata, Pt. 4" dredges up a palpably suicidal atmosphere from a slow piano ditty, synth whirls and vocals that constantly shift proximity in the mix--whispering in your ear one second, then talking over the phone, then from the other end of the room--like a manic conscience. Over 11 tracks, there's avant-jazz, midtempo industrial, Bedouin horns, melancholy Syd Barrett-ish folk and inert electro-pop recalling late-'80s Wire. The sum total is something creepier, and richer, than anything with black mascara.
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Andrew Marcus