The Legendary Pink Dots
The Whispering Wall
2004
B



the modern world poses may questions. Who are we? What’s all that shouting about? Is technology a vicious and destructive force that is just itching to kill our friends, family and pets before descending upon any survivors in a frenzied orgy of violence? Crucial queries, every one. The more perceptive amongst you crazy, online-music-mag-reading misfits will perhaps have guessed which particular question I was subtly trying to draw attention to there. And, if I were able to focus my radiation-poisoned mind clearly enough and stab at these infernal repetitive-strain-inducing keys with any semblance of accuracy, I might attempt to answer it.

Better yet, let’s ask The Legendary Pink Dots. Not literally, obviously. They seem entirely too weird to approach directly, and I’m easily frightened. Interestingly, though, it seems the band have a fair few terrors of their own. I’ve already examined their crippling fear of finishing any songs in under seven hours, but The Whispering Wall bravely faces up to new horrors. Namely, your mobile phone. And your microwave. And that freakish sandwich maker you never use. Yes, it’s the wacky world of out-of-control gadgets! I realise now that I may have already alluded to that, somewhat. Sorry to spoil the surprise.

You’ve probably sussed that in order to record and convey this vision of manufactured nightmares the Pink Dots will almost certainly have employed all manner of sinister technological shenanigans. Unless they beamed it directly into my head via the dodgy spy satellite usually set to the ‘oppress free thought’ option. Anyway, just try to ignore this slight sense of hypocrisy or before you know it you’ll be questioning whether a table is really a table and what the word ‘table’ even means anyway. It’s why you don’t get invited to parties anymore. That, and the recent bloody rebellion by automated cocktail makers.

Usual Dots antics abound on this presentation (insofar as their continual refusal to adhere to any common themes whatsoever merrily wanders on), except with the painfully drawn out ponderousness of The Poppy Variations almost completely removed—hurrah! Do you yearn for the sudden and dramatic introduction of classic Victorian musicbox tunes in between misleadingly unassuming tracks? Of course you do. That’s why you listen to “Dominic” on repeat and do various disturbing dances, much as a toy solider might attempt after being dramatically brought to life by a kiss from a lonely fairy. Mayhap we can also engage in some childish whimsy by relating to the skittish and somewhat traumatic recollections of manic, youthful games in “Peek-a-Boo”.

Central to this seething miasma is “The Divide” (confusingly, it is alternatively offered as “The Modern Man” on the inlay), a distraught audio diary of one man’s gradual decline following the failure of ... no, but yes! ... technology. Managing to wobble in an ungainly fashion on the tightrope that spans the twin cages of ‘harrowing’ and ‘really quite silly’ it’s a rather ingenious bit of spoken-word-with-backing-sounds artiness. Every listen tends to reveal a new and exciting piece of information about how reliance upon comfort appliances can lead to DEATH and other assorted conditions. Our protagonist’s denial is unambiguously confirmed by the assertion “I firmly believe that technology is not everything”. Precious hope survives only in the peace he may potentially find through his books. Which were surely constructed via a rigorous technological process. But I believe we’ve already covered this.

Silver-suited future anthropologists, sifting through the meta-rubble with their nano-trowels, may ponder, before departing in their hover jeep, just what kind of calamity befell our once proud civilisation. Chances are it won’t have been because our washing machines unhelpfully went wrong at the vital moment. But hey, you never know. Maybe some velour-fetishising grave robbers will chance upon Stylus Magazine. Maybe they’ll uncover the words “The Whispering Wall by The Legendary Pink Dots is a pretty damned nifty piece of work”. Maybe I’ve just constructed a tremendously obvious written gag.

The Whispering Wall by The Legendary Pink Dots is a pretty damned nifty piece of work.

That sentence was probably quite redundant, wasn’t it? Oh well.



Reviewed by: Peter Parrish
Reviewed on: 2004-10-15
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