Edward Ka-Spel

Tanith & the Lion Tree

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Much more of a solo album than other Ka-Spel efforts -- there's a guest turn in one or two spots but otherwise it's all him -- Tanith and the Lion Tree was the first such effort to get a full American release. Coinciding with the time of the Legendary Pink Dots' own stateside rise to greater attention as it did, Tanith finds Ka-Spel trying out a variety of approaches on his own, sacrificing general album unity in favor of some truly tripped-out compositions. His common approach of testing out varying ways of recording his voice -- "Prithee" has him sounding like he's one room over, "Prisoners of War" echoing from distant vistas -- suits the efforts here as a result. The squelching loops and beeps of "Four Out of Ten" almost forecast some of Sonic Boom's later work as Experimental Audio Research, while the title track eschews the frenetic chaos of that effort in favor of a vocal/piano approach (for the most part) that haunts quietly rather than forcefully. "Hotel X" is equally calm, at least on the surface of it, the uneasy bedroom scenario described in terms more appropriate for personal apocalypse rather than vacation romance or its equivalents. "'O' From the Great Sea" is one of the artist's all time best songs in or out of his main band, a clattering percussion loop underpinning a doomy, slow synth-based march, Ka-Spel sounding ever more on a very fragile edge as he sings about death and destruction in multiple horrifying guises. There are some really lovely instrumentals as well, benefiting from the contributions of one Lady Loop on keyboards. "Interference" combines a serene, almost heavenly backing synth flow with shriller loops and tweaks suggesting the title condition, while both "Loop 1" and "Loop 2" are even more quietly, entrancingly pretty.

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