Edward Ka-Spel

Picture of Edward Ka-Spel

Tanith And The Lion Tree

Edward Ka-Spel - Tanith And The Lion Tree ©1991 Third Mind Records
1. 'O' From The Great Sea
2. Tanith And The Lion Tree
3. Interference
4. Four Out Of Ten
5. Loop 1
6. Loop 2
7. The Bakersman
8. Prithee
9. Prisoners Of War
10. Three Times Daily
11. Hotel X
12. Epilogue
13. Phoney War
14. Old Man Trouble

The problem with Edward Ka-Spel's solo releases is that there apparently isn't anyone else to keep him in check when he takes musical tangents. His solo releases are often filled with occasional gems surrounded by a lot of extremely offbeat and difficult explorations and experiments that do not always gel properly. Tanith and the Lion Tree is a good example of Edward's tendency to record and release every single note he has ever played without necessarily scrutinizing what is being set to tape. His solo work is naturally very reminiscient of anything he has done with the Legendary Pink Dots, especially leaning towards their earlier years. More specifically, his material treads heavily on the Chemical Playschool series as much of this stuff is experimental in nature. The sound quality is not terribly great and the instruments sound pretty amateurish at times. Indeed that is part of his charm but at times it simply becomes aggravating. Tanith is an album that goes through phases between actual songs and soundscapes. As a result, you either have to be in the mood to deal with the varying range of quality or you will not make through this entire album in one sitting. While I enjoy the very low key ambient "Loop1" and "Loop2" as well as the nicely offbeat and playful "The Bakersman", the excessive "Four Out of Ten" or "Phoney War" tend to diminish the effectiveness of the album on a whole. Tanith is definitely an album that is recommended for only the most ardent fans of Edward Ka-Spel as beings with a lesser interest (or tolerance) in his work will most likely be very put off by this.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 05/2000

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Lyvv China Doll (CD Version)

Edward Ka-Spel - Lyvv China Doll (CD Version) ©1993 Staalplaat
1. The Char Char
2. Wenn Alte-gotter Sterben
3. Tower 8
4. Bleak House
5. Corridors Of Deceit
6. Dada
7. Infirmary Waltz
8. (Untitled)
9. Lying In State
10. Sneezing Choirs
11. March Of The Anorexic Locusts
12. Beautiful Plastic
13. Pretty Ribbons
14. Vla
15. Culumnyetz
16. God Bless The Calvary Part 1
17. God Bless The Calvary Part 2
18. Zyrrup
19. The Horn Section
20. Intent
21. Bleeding Finale

A lot of the Legendary Pink Dots and related material from the mid-80's has a very distinctive feel and flavor. Edward Ka-Spel's solo material from that era is no different. While theoretically recorded live, Edward informs us on the CD jacket that the original intent to make a live document got out of hand and instead you get a product that is full of everything that makes Edward quite the character, from his distinctive voice and lyrics to that almost-whimisical approach to making music. At times the songs are a bit disjointed and leaning towards sound collages, however, most are worthy of the Ka-Spel name. The occasional strangeness of the disc at times does lead me to recommend a new listener check out some less bizarre Dots/Ka-Spel creations first, but to a fanatic of the band, this is yet another great record.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 07/1998

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Down In The City Of Heartbreak And Needles

Edward Ka-Spel - Down In The City Of Heartbreak And Needles ©
1. Mirror Soul
2. Avengelist
3. God In A Cupboard
4. Blowing Bubbles Part 2
5. Six Cats On A Dead Man's Chest
6. Joey The Video
7. The Char Char
8. Intermezzo
9. Hotel Blanc
10. Tikko
11. Volicle
12. Suicide Pact
13. Lisa's Funeral
14. The Glass Moved By Itself...
15. ...And Smashed Into A Million Pieces
16. Lilith's Daughter
17. Eye Contact
18. And The Lord Said "rise"
19. Requiem

Just earlier today I happened to be reading the dictionary (thought it was a strange poem about everything...okay, I'll stop ripping off Stephen Wright now) when I fell upon the definition of prolific. Next to that definition was a picture of Mr. Ka-Spel (that's Prophet to you). Considering his main outlet (the Legendary Pink Dots) has been churning out albums like clockwork since 1980 or so and he's also been involved in the Tear Garden, you'd think somewhere he'd run out of ideas and maybe kick back with a novel on his days off. Nope...not Ed. Apparently his series of solo albums are ideas that didn't mesh with the regular Dots crew (as he considers that band to be a democracy and his solo albums his tyrannical release). Which is strange considering the material found here is quite reminiscent of the Dots. However, Edward has a such a distinctive voice that anything he does is going to be marked. Overall this is a pretty darned good sprawling work that compiles a lot of his work from the mid-80's. This is easily on par with regular Dots albums from that time frame. There seems to be a bit more of a collage feel to the work (especially on "Hotel Blanc") and sometimes a scattershot feel to things, but it's still quite charming and musical.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 07/1998

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Chyekk China Doll/AaAzhyd China Doll

Edward Ka-Spel - Chyekk China Doll/AaAzhyd China Doll ©1995 Staalplaat
1. Lines
2. The Infinity Waltz
3. Prelude For A Splash
4. The Price Of Salvation
5. Chyekk 1
6. Lisa's Christening
7. Chyekk 2
8. Beautiful Naked
9. Klazh, Tristurr
10. Lisa's Resurrection
11. The Power, The Power
12. The Glory, The Glory
13. The Forbidden Zone
14. Colour Me Vexed, Desiree
15. AaAszhyd China Doll
16. Flesh Parade
17. The Qa'Spell
18. The Unfortunate Demise Of The Fabulous Puccino Brothers
19. Nuts In May
20. Traitor's Gate
21. Blowing Bubbles (Part III)
22. The Fool
23. The Witchfinder Suite (parts I-VI)

I have to admit this 2-CD set of Edward Ka-Spel's China Doll albums has been quite the chore to fathom and express in a succient review. Far more scattered than his day job with the Legendary Pink Dots, both these albums are long on intent but somewhat short of execution. Much of the first disc, Chyekk China Doll tends to have a bizarre waltz time to them (hence titles like "The Infinity Waltz") and of course the mysterious Lisa shows up for another couple tracks, "Lisa Christening" and "Lisa's Resurrection". But unlike some of the Dots more esoteric and "difficult" pieces that do eventually make some sense in a maddening sort of way, much of this deconstructs into pieces that basically fail to entice. By the end of the first disc, it has become entirely background noise of sparse keyboard based ambient tracks and noise effects. AaAzhyd China Doll reminds me greatly of mid-80's era Dots and more song oriented than the first disc of the set. There are some very oddball moments, particularly the freakout feel of "Blowing Bubbles Part III" or "The Witchfinder Suite (parts I-VI)". It is apparent that Edward Ka-Spel has many musical ideas and tends to record any experiment or whim that flows through his head. As these discs demonstrate, sometimes it works but oftentimes it is maddening.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 08/1998

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The Scriptures Of Illumina

Edward Ka-Spel - The Scriptures Of Illumina ©1995 Terminal Kaleidoscope
1. Illumina
2. Memoires Of Dr. Bliss
3. A Grain Of Salt
4. Homage
5. Gomorrha
6. Mayday
7. The Never Man
8. Laughing Venus
9. There Was A Crooked Man
10. Illumina 2
11. The Last Door On The Left

Fact of the matter is that Edward Ka-Spel has access to a device that allows him more hours in the day than the rest of us. As if his hectic schedule with the Legendary Pink Dots isn't enough, his extensive solo work provides us with the more ecletic works that didn't, for whatever reason, go to his main project. Naturally most of what you hear on his solo disc, this one included, is very similar to the Dots, but what else would you expect with a voice so distinct?

The Scriptures of Illumina is a rather sprawling work that covers the ground from very trancelike ambient sound sculptures to nervous, sketchy tracks like the bizarre "There Was a Crooked Man". Of course you get Ka-Spel's legendary (hee hee) narration throughout. "Illumina 2" throbs over a incessant bassline and occasional keyboard anthem breaking through. As with much of his solo work, there is a bit more of an experimental edge and it does take many spins to really begin to grasp what ever it was that might have been going through his mind at composition time. Except for some of the truly electronic soundpieces ("The Left" or "Homage"), Illumina is very akin to the Legendary Pink Dots sound of the 90's minus some of the wind instruments.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 02/1999

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