Island of Jewels (Legendary Pink Dots)
Date: Wed, 31 May 1995 14:06:49 -0400
This was the the second CD I ever purchased by the Dots (the first being
Any Day Now). I was told that this was their "best album ever" by friends,
and I was also told that it was incredibly hard to find in North America,
so when I did see it one day, I snatched it up quickly.
IOJ is one of the most incredible albums they've done. Moments of
brilliance shine through on every other song... But it is also one of the
most inconsistent albums they've done; the different styles and moods of
each song make it hard to listen to as a coherent album, and often I find
there is little to connect one song to the next.
Still, some of the songs on this album are among my favorites ever, and it
will always be near and dear to my heart.
The Dairy: This song totally shocked me when I first heard it. It has
booming precussion and a very dancable beat, with very cool
violins in the background. The emotion from the singing and the
instruments blends together very well.
The Emblem Parade: Strings and Drums in a very dissonant piece. A very
well-done song which sets itself in contrast to the rest of the album.
Jewel on an Island: Listening to this song is like watching a movie; the
lyrics are so clear and coherent, and tell the story of a single mother
who is totally broke and depressed, and wants to kill herself, leaving
her child alone in the world to fend for herself. She's going manic and
crazy while the music is, and she crashes when the music crashes...
Rattlesnake Arena: Well, I have a tough time listening to this one; I
usually program my CD player to skip over it.
The Shock of Contact: This is another "story" song, with a beginning,
middle and end. Very haunting to listen to, but the mood is changed so
abruptly by the chorus that it bugs me a little. I still like it though.
Jewel in the Crown: The instrumental parts of this song are breathtaking,
and are in total contrast to the lyrical parts. I sometimes feel that
the song really "begins" at 1:50 on the CD.
Our Lady in Chambers: This is my favorite song on the album. The lyrics
make absolutely no sense to me, but the music is so creative and
brilliant. This is the song that for me typifies the LPDs at their
creative peak. Does anyone else think of Pink Floyd's The Wall while
listening to this song?
Our Lady in Kharki: This one doesn't do much for me... I usually skip over
Our Lady in Darkness: Another amazing instrumental part is contained in
this song... This time it starts around 2:00. A Cloud-Zero piano and
some synthesized plucking instruments get joined by some bass and
Guardians of Eden: This is another of my favorite songs, and I wish it was
longer. But short and sweet are applicable to this song, a story about
Gods starting over again with the human race.
This is an album I'll never get tired of. Highly recommended for anyone
who wants a decent collection of dots music. It may be quirky and
inconsistent, but the flashes of brilliance are many and close-together
(as opposed to few and far between?) Keep in mind that my opinions
differ from those of the Prophet himself, who in interviews frequently
dumps on this brilliant piece of work.
The next release, on PIAS in 1986, represents a step back into place as
Island of Jewels is a virtual re-write of The Tower, though in no way is it
redundant. Musically, further leaps are taken to incorporate the
orchestration, and guitar and rhythm both become a bit more prominent. "The
Dairy" and "The Shock of Contact" are more cracked pop; "Rattlesnake Arena"
illustrates how thin a line there is between weird experimentation and
irritating indulgence. The best tracks are the languid, dark, beautiful "Our
Lady" tracks on the second half of the record.