Album Review: Amanda Palmer and Edward Ka-Spel, I Can Spin A Rainbow

An album of disquietingly beautiful ugliness

The remarkable Amanda Palmer: musician, writer, doyen of social-media and accidental provocateur, has teamed up with longtime inspiration Edward Ka-Spel, figurehead of cult legends The Legendary Pink Dots, to produce an album that is at once unsettling and thought-provoking.

Like two spooky siblings, foreheads touching over a ouija board, they’ve conjured a private world of disquietingly beautiful ugliness. The overall effect is reminiscent of an early Dorothea Tanning painting or a Quay Brothers film. It speaks of the unspeakable and unnameable dreads that crawl beneath the rocks of human consciousness: sweating night-terrors, shameful secrets and fearful things that lurk beneath the bed. You and me in other words.

Filmic references abound. The opening track is called ‘Pulp Fiction’; ‘Beyond The Beach’ riffs on the post-apocalyptic theme of Stanley Kramer’s cult classic On The Beach; and the curiously misspelt ‘The Shock Of Kontakt’ appears to namecheck an obscure 2005 Macedonian offering. Lyrically there’s also mention of They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?

Recorded at Imogen Heap’s Essex based home-studio, the pair have tinkered and toyed to create a through-the-looking-glass nursery-rhyme world of quiet foreboding. Ka-Spel’s eerie whispered delivery of often dense wordplay accentuates the weird intimacy of much of the work. Minimalist keyboard beds and use of what sound like children’s toy instruments further reinforce the skewed Giallolandscape. It’s by no means an easy listen, but if you’re in the mood for a disturbing yet strangely solacing record, give this twisted tar-baby a go.

 

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