Edward Ka-Spel of The Legendary Pink Dots has finally managed to out-creep himself with the release of The Gethsemane Option. Over the years, LPD have made themselves notorious for their avant-garde (and sometimes, just plain whack) styles of sound and aesthetic. Ka-Spel, Phil Knight, Raymond Steeg, and Erik Drost have put together a very strong and cohesive work of art this time with The Gethsemane Option.
As the album’s title suggests, this is another statement about religion, psychology, and their dysfunctional relationship; something The Legendary Pink Dots have always loved to push. The melodies are as haunting as ever as The Gethsemane Option opens with “A Star Is Born“. The song is an eerie concoction of cello-esque keyboards, and the spoken word vocals of Ka-Spel at the bpm rate of a flat line. Doesn’t sound interesting? Somehow it is. The first few tracks, although minimalist, pack a surprising amount of climax without any sort of aggression.
I must say that there were moments when I was not so certain that I wasn’t listening to Gary Numan’s Jagged. Songs like “Esher Everywhere” and “A Stretch in Time” create such a darkly rich atmosphere, that I found myself staring at the wall; which is a good thing. The fifth track “Pendulum“, however, is basically Ka-Spel’s version of a coffeehouse poetry night. I’m still not sure how I feel about that one, but I will say that it’s as boring as it is pretentious.
After recovering from “Pendulum“, The Gethsemane Option really regains its atmosphere, but the last few songs sound more reminiscent of old Skinny Puppy and a little bit of The Tear Garden (not shocking). There is enough musical variation within the album to stay tuned for more; and I usually have a little trouble with paying attention to experimental. LPD’s signature creepy and unsettling aura is ever apparent here and I hope they continue to make 40 more albums of this weird shit. I’ll take any excuse to walk around barefoot wearing scarves and sunglasses.