Chyekk, China Doll (

With the help of Nurse With Wound mainman Steven Stapleton on “tapes, piano, and inspiration,” Ka-Spel collaborated with multi-instrumentalist Patrick Wright on Chyekk China Doll, a worthy entry in Ka-Spel’s lengthy, involved series of solo works. As with most of his solo work, the artist moves sideways from the collapsing, queasy anarchy of the Legendary Pink Dots for a quieter but no less freaky combination. Wright plays a core role throughout, cowriting nearly all the songs and adding his haunting, heavily echoed violin work to many songs, further rendering the playfully cartoon music-in-hell compositions even more curious. The aura of fragile chamber music and oddly elegant ballroom dancing on the brief “Chyekk 1” and “Chyekk 2” and the downright captivating start to “The Glory, the Glory” are some of his standout moments. “Lisa’s Christening,” meanwhile, really does sound like a religious ceremony of some sort, though not exactly one which might be called a traditional Christian rite. Stapleton’s ear for jarring, sudden cuts and random samples further spikes the brew at points — check the brief “Klazh, Tristurr” or the echoing rumble of “The Power, the Power” for a headspinning listen — all making a just disorienting enough combination for Ka-Spel to play in. Sometimes he submerges his vocals in the mix, but, at points, as on the very appropriately titled “The Infinity Waltz,” it goes front and center, his gently declamatory style suiting the results. Ka-Spel’s wiggy sense of humor helps in some of the arrangements as well — who else would whip up a jazzy, ’20s-style strut like “Beautiful Naked” while still making it sound like an invocation to the beyond? Later versions included two tracks recorded in 1994 by Ka-Spel without Stapleton or Wright; the winner of the two is “Colour Me Vexed, Desiree,” an unnerving, lengthy swirl of keyboards, feedback, and heavily treated vocal snippets.


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