Light a candle in a dark room and wrap up snug; this is a haunted house of a record. Dark corners, echoey corridors, lyrics half sung, half spoken. If this is truly the long-yearned-for project of Bostonian radical Amanda Palmer, concocted with her teenage hero Edward Ka-Spel (vocalist of London-via-Amsterdam experimentalists The Legendary Pink Dots), then there are some forlorn, unsettling things living in their shared psyche.
I Can Spin a Rainbow is partly a reference to that childhood colour-learning rhyme, and partly to everyone’s favourite spinning beach ball of death; this theme of contemporary malaise – underpinned by the melancholia of lost youth – is made manifest throughout.
Opener Pulp Fiction features a woozy Palmer waking up amid electronic bleeps, like a coma patient on life-support, while lead single The Clock at the End of the Cage marries childlike glockenspiel with eerie choral harmonies. The Jack of Hands starts like a lullaby, before sinking into the mire: Ka-Spel’s playful storytelling mode giving way to Palmer whispering into our ears, 'Jack’ll fix it, Jack’ll fix it'. Prithee-Liquidation Day’s immersive 10 minutes slides from haunting strings to an unnerving funhouse organ, all of which collapses into a kaleidoscopic minor-key maelstrom. This is not a happy album.
It’s a bold, considered whole; it's rich in theatrical texture and ambient psychedelia, but it’s not an easy listen. Often deliberately discordant, it won’t be to everyone’s tastes, certainly not to fans of Palmer’s poppier work. This is Palmer filtered through LPD’s dark and oblique narrative lens, with her familiar vocal offset by Ka-Spel’s gravelly, otherworldy poetry. It’s clearly the output of two passionate creators on a simpatico wavelength; the jury’s out as to whether that synthesis was a worthwhile endeavour. But if you’re drawn to the anxious mystery of the unknown, maybe you can spin a rainbow, too.
Listen to: The Shock of Kontakt, The Clock at the End of the Cage
Buy Amanda Palmer and Edward Ka-Spel - I Can Spin A Rainbow on Double LP/CD from Norman Records