This has got to be Edward Ka-Spel‘s most introspective album to date; some would say business as usual, another party political broadcast from the inside of Edward’s head. Words held in tea-stained sepia and dust-choked webs, hints of jaded melody creeping out of the inky gloom, like threadbare playthings that have seen better days. Yep — definitely business as usual, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.
“Limburgia” eases you in with the soft canter of bongos and a slip-disc of key strokes, all chip-wrapping a monologue concerning some mining accident that frays into festering unrealities that sound fatigued, stonewashed. To which “Red Highway” ups the anxiety in industrial tensiles and a visceral thrashing of cane against aluminium railings that gets you all unnecessary while Ka-Spel’s vocals start losing it in the ever-tightening mincer of calamity chased by the local police. Beautiful stuff that; “The Border of Beyond” follows on in a nursery-like afterburn, his slender drool accompanied by hand-cranked tinkering, shivers of glassy automata, doubles ingested purring inside their cages as your eyes are caught in the swing of a lightbulb’s shadow. A serpentine curve menacing the masonry as gentle musical spasms further highlight a troubled mind.
“Night Terrors”, with its talc-caked harpsichord and powdered wigs, oozes a decaying decadence you can almost smell as the candle wax’s wane holds audience over the narration… “‘What if the world stopped turning? What if the sun did not rise? If I sit here paralysed, night after night…” capturing a strong sense of the narrator swaying back and forth, easing in doubt like a dripping tap. “You say bad dreams, you say bad dreams”, he adds in a dimensionally-detached hush: “Bad, bad baaaaddddd“, he repeats, as the fear engines take control and an interlocking lushness of cutlery bounces off glass eyes, an apex finally sucked in a convulsion of treacly reverses.
The harpsichord vibe bleeds into “Victoria”, a purely instrumental interlude leaking its resonant betweens, whetting your appetite for “Shine and Bones” — a spectacular 14 minute journey that escalates the disquiet so far generated with a delicious obsessiveness of stuttering delay and swept symphonics. A factory-spurting monotony that becomes surprisingly danceworthy until it careers off psychedelically in filtrated scars of otherness, then ebbs and flows into an aviary of insectrial rubs, forest chirrups, declining into some sinister owl-like ambience, the odd piano note clinging to Ka-Spel’s concentrated wordplay like greasy spoons. A narration about killing rare bloffy birds, audibly honking from amongst the bulrushes and spannered electronics. “Dry Bones, the back bones, the funny bones and all the rest of the bones”, repeats a Fifties voice caught on a brief fervour of xylophonics, hooking into a more saturnalia perspective as our protagonist economically brews a notion of some atrocity from very little. “The 3 o’clock scream from somewhere“, he adds, giving out a vague precision to the chill he’s already generated.
Two tracks follow, both lengthy excursions gently prodding things with further curiosity, the first “I’ll Come to You _ Continuo” in splashy locomotives and vortexing vox, some whispering phantom in your subconsciousness: “May I be a grain of sand that rubs against your eye, as you’re lying on your sunbed, trying hard to sleep, counting all your money like you count those lousy sheep, I’ll come to yoooouuuuuu…” His words tongue-rolling the tempo beautifully, the pulsing rhythm held attentively to every passage, later adding the final coffin nail, “When you are feeling solemn, I’ll make sure you do not fake those tears…” The music nearing a station stop, piano macabra punching the tickets of blurring impressions, an artificial womb of criss-crossed choral keys, thrashed corn and a pleasing proliferation of fleeting sketchbook distractions. Something the final track “Conclusion” holds dear as its vascular thumps are transformed, specturised, thrown into a satisfying array of pleasures accompanying the pessimistic ponderence. A matter on which D’Archangelnever disappoints, swinging the aperture to the swirling exhales of cold January nights.