Amanda Palmer has long shown herself to be a vocal proponent for and fangirl of The Legendary Pink Dots. From crediting the band’s impact on her equally theatrical and murky music to including a brief band bio in her 2015 book, The Art of Asking, Palmer has positioned herself as an unabashed admirer, fan and ultimately a student of the group. This unbridled love comes through loud and clear on her latest release, I Can Spin a Rainbow, co-billed with The Legendary Pink Dots front man Edward Ka-Spel.

It’s little surprise that the album sounds every bit the product of someone enamored of The Legendary Pink Dots, with the band’s inimitable front man completing the illusion. To be fair, the duo is nearly perfectly matched, similar artistic sensibilities mind-melded from note one of opening track “Pulp Fiction.” Relying on a combination of speak-singing and eerie vocal shadowing, they use a somewhat gothic approach to a poetry-infused sound that might well be called “macabaret.”

One look at the album cover’s skeletal King of Spades, ghostly butterfly and slate-grey backdrop gives the listener a fairly close idea of what to expect from the music. The color palette of the rainbow is nowhere to be seen, replaced by a gloomy, limited spectrum that is more often than not enshrouded in fog. “Beyond the Beach” is a musical approximation of Poe with stentorian piano chords, swirling electronic fragments and an ethereal violin topped off with Palmer’s unsettlingly close sing-whisper of the opening line: “I cannot recommend the cherries hanging low from this old tree/ They glow on moonless nights and taste a bit like paraffin/ It’s been a decade since it happened and we’re told we can return/ But maybe best to boil the water, ignore the after-burn.” Ka-Spel’s vocals seep into the mix, his voice the dry croak of someone recently raised from the crypt.

Palmer and Ka-Spel sing so close to the microphone that it gives the illusion they’re performing right inside your skull, giving voice to the darker urges and impulses we try more often than not to keep quiet. Having made a name for herself using just this approach, Palmer’s soft, vaguely threatening vocals provide the perfect foil for Ka-Spel’s equally unsettling vocal approach. “The Shock of Contact” sounds every bit the perfect soundtrack to a postmodern gothic horror story with its ghostly vocals, analog synth stabs and wandering reverb lending a constant sense of motion despite its lumbering tempo. One would be discouraged from listening alone in the dark.

Much like Current 93 or Ka-Spel’s main gig with The Legendary Pink Dots, there is a decidedly British sense of creeping dread that permeates the album. Alternately beautiful, darkly haunting and unsettlingly spooky, I Can Spin a Rainbow is gothic haunted house horror made manifest. Just try to listen to Ka-Spel’s vocal on “The Clock at the End of the Cage” without a shiver running down your spine (sample lyric: “We used to talk all the time/ The blindfolded bodies you stacked in the barn/ And they told you not to look behind you”). Whether a one-off collaboration or the start of something dark and brooding, I Can Spin a Rainbow is the epitome of macabaret and a fine distillation of each performer’s equally creepy aesthetic.

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