Edward Ka-Spel

Red Letters

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The various reds of rage, love, apocalyptic prophecy, and taboo inform RED LETTERS, 2000's song-cycle offering from the pen of Legendary Pink Dots frontman and tortured poet Edward Ka-Spel. Bobbing amid the album's sad, sweet, slow-motion synth swells are some of the most forlorn and lonely words Ka-Spel has ever set to music. His familiar lost-in-space whisper seems content enough amid the star-streaked haze of the opening "Radio 6"; but RED LETTERS broadcasts a profound sense of alienation as it unfolds. Ka-Spel trudges with gloomy resolve through pretty but pained chord changes, a despondent song on his lips.

Dominated by candy-tone keyboards, hypnotic loops, and dazed chamber-music arrangements, RED LETTERS' more mirthful moments recall not only the Dots' first four full-lengths (as do most Ka-Spel solo albums), but also the late-'80s solo work of Wire's Colin Newman. The mystical "Illumina 3/ The Carrier," "Grooovy," and the closing medley wind through sample-warped atmospheric fronts, brushing against trippy, dub-circus beats. "Seeing Red" stands out as RED LETTERS' Ka-Spel classic, its obliquely doleful lyrics set to music of aching loveliness--including a memorable coda of psychedelic orchestration.

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