Edward Ka-Spel
Happy New Year

Cover Image

Edward Ka-Spel - Happy New Year

US CD Beta-Lactam Ring MT112
  1. Happy New Year - [MP3 excerpt 1, excerpt 2]
  2. What Goes Around - [MP3]

Edward Ka-Spel - keyboards, voice

Two tracks recorded on December 31, 2004 and January 1, 2005.
Packed in a broadstock 6-color gatefold sleeve, limited to 325 numbered copies.

Although I always search in vain for any indication that the Legendary Pink Dots front man is resting on his laurels, phoning it in, or "taking the piss," as they say, each new release tends to hold to an impressive level of quality control. Happy New Year is the new chunklet of music-scented sound art from Edward Ka-Spel of The Legendary Pink Dots, and its release represents only one of a small avalanche of EKS albums to be issued in 2005. Already this year has seen the release of O Darkness! O Darkness! and Fragments of Illumina, and if Beta-Lactam Ring Records sticks to their plans, there could be as many as three more EKS albums issued this year. The reason for this sudden spike in Ka-Spel's already absurd prolificacy could only be speculated about, but one thing is for certain: if anyone has earned the right to unleash a ridiculous amount of vanity albums on the world, it's Edward Ka-Spel. An argument could be made that I have merely fetishized Edward's recording aesthetics and artistic obsessions, and that an objective assessment of his work would be impossible. Well, fuck all that. Happy New Year clocks in at about 26 minutes, making it more of an EP than a full-length. The recording was undertaken on New Year's Eve 2004, when the artist found himself in solitude, alienated from the celebrations occurring outside his door. While most of us would probably get drunk and call up an old flame, EKS decided to record this layered mini-album. In the far distant background of the recording, you can hear the crackling and whistling of fireworks exploding as EKS rifles backwards through his recent memory, producing hazy, backwards washes of analog synthesizer that reek of nostalgia, sadness and regret. Lovely, meandering piano melodies take the fore, picking out deconstructed variations on "Auld Lang Syne" and other celebratory songs. It's haunting, elegiac and tasteful, never totally surrendering to melancholy, but gracefully skating around its edges. "What Goes Around" is the second track, and though it is not part of the same New Year's Eve recording session, it is paired with the first track because of its similar insistence on looking backward, on the nebulous play of memory in the mind's eye. It ends with a spooky loop from an old-time-y record, running out numbly into oblivion. The construction of both tracks is along the lines of EKS' more experimental, dislocated, ambient work, as opposed to the more song-based structures of classic albums like Khataclamici China Doll and Tanith and the Lion Tree. This is not a bad thing by any means; just a caveat. Though this brief memento of days gone by is barely substantial enough to warrant repeated listens, Happy New Year is still another terrific little entry in the EKS discography. - Jonathan Dean, Brainwashed