Edward Ka-Spel

A Long Red Ladder to the Moon

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Not quite as striking as Pieces of Infinity, this album is nonetheless strong. Resolutely pop, albeit in Edward Ka-Spel's very own way, it offers an easier listen and might even make a good starting point for the latecomer to the Legendary Pink Dots' already ample discography. A true solo album (the only other person involved being Raymond Steeg, credited for "sound wizardry"), A Long Red Ladder to the Moon features all the quirks and surprises one expects from the man -- including the occasional straightforward pop song, just to throw listeners off guard. Expect shy beatboxes, delicate piano melodies, keyboard sounds that still have that '80s alternative rock feel, and lyrics that explore the netherland between deep human feelings and surrealism. "Mechanical Sam" is a beautiful pop song, with a catchy melody that grows repetitive in a typically manic way. "Flipside" has a rougher edge that qualifies it as a highlight. "Gone Subterranean, Pts. 1-2" spends seven minutes in abstract aural pastures before launching into an understated song. As a whole, the album leans more toward the gentle side, with tracks like "Black Widow's Kiss," "Hey Rainman," and "Never Say Never" sticking to quiet lyrics and spacy arrangements. Some of these take a long time to establish a mood, which gives the impression that Ka-Spel lacked material. Trim down a few passages here and there, and throw in another dynamic song like "Flipside" somewhere in the second half of the track list, and you would have an essential avant pop record. Then again, in its actual state, A Long Red Ladder to the Moon is still an indisputable keeper.

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