Experimental, bizarre, macabre, nightmarish, ambient, avant-garde, creepy, stylish; these are just some of the words I can use to describe the latest CD from The Legendary Pink Dots founder Edward Ka-Spel. This is a true solo album in every sense of the word as Ka-Spel plays all of the instruments such as piano, synthesizers, organ and autoharp. This has been a different listening experience for me as this style of music is not something I am overly familiar with. Now, what exactly is this style of music? If you are familiar with The Legendary Pink Dots I suppose you do not need me to answer that question. If, on the other hand you are like me, and a little out of your comfort zone, I guess you could label this as an exercise in pure experimental electronic and ambient music. When I use the word 'ambient' I do not mean new age. No, this is no new age trip. It is a trip, however, into the dark recesses of Ka-Spel's mind. You may be wondering what might be in store for you if you decide to take this journey. Read on to find out.
The music can be sparse, dense, droning, and seemingly coming through in layer upon layer of mutated sounds. The experimental factor is very high. There are so many sound effects on this cd it is almost overwhelming. Some of the melodies seem to be loosely built around these electronic bleeps and noises. And the thing is, at times, Ka-Spel actually pulls it off, which I can tell you is no easy feat.
While I like the entire album, I tend to favor the tunes where melody is a common thread. The first song "As a Bird/A Missing Piece" has some interesting percussion sounds, a sinuous synth line and some other neat effects. The half spoken vocals of Ka-Spel are effective conveying the dark mood of the piece, reminding me slightly of Outside era David Bowie. "Under the Junction" is probably my favorite song, with a distinct English feel, perhaps because of the quaint accent Ka-Spel delivers. Brooding synths, subtle percussion and intriguing lyrics make this one an interesting and rewarding listen. Some of the background voices remind one of Pink Floyd. "My Wandering Star/As a Bird (part 2)" ends the album with the album's nicest melody. Instrumentally the song is quite sparse but somehow it just works for me. Ka-Spel's enhanced voice is at its best here, again, reminding me of Bowie.
A special mention must be made of the album's fine artwork courtesy of Jesse Pepper. The packaging is of high quality, folding out to give us 10 nightmarish paintings that actually make perfect sense once you have absorbed the album.
So there you have it. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this artful piece of music. If you are inclined to listen to experimental, electronic/ambient music, I suggest you may too. Recommended.
1) As a Bird/A Missing Piece (8:24)
2) Darkness O (7:48)
3) The Modest Ambitions of Cedric the Centipede (9:20)
4) Under the Junction (5:51)
5) Going My Way? (8:22)
6) New Fool's Moon/The Closet (11:16)
7) My Wandering Star/As a Bird (part 2) (6:28)