The Tear Garden
Crystal Mass

Cover Image
The Tear Garden - Crystal Mass

Oct 24, 2000

CA CD Nettwerk W2-30158

  1. Lament - [MP3]
  2. The Double Spades Effect - [MP3]
  3. Desert Island Disc - [MP3]
  4. Hopeful - [MP3]
  5. Castaway - [MP3]
  6. Her Majesty's Trusted Food Taster - [MP3]
  7. Feathered Friends - [MP3]
  8. To Mourn The Death Of Colour - [MP3]
  9. Six Of One - [MP3]

Edward Ka-Spel - voice, keyboards, electronics
Cevin Key - electronics, keyboards, drums, percusssion, tapes
Dwayne R. Goettel
Ryan Moore - bass, keyboards (1), acoustic guitar (3)
Niels Van Hoorn - flute (7)
Martijn de Kleer - acoustic and electric guitar, violin
Russell Nash - scanmaster (7)
Bill van Rooy - hand percussion (5)

Initial pressings had songs 4 and 5 erroneously combined onto one index track.

Follow, if you will, the scientific formula that makes up the element known as The Tear Garden. Elements called Hilt, Doubting Thomas and Cyberactive spontaneously burst into existence with the common Key molecule, alongside an element known as Download, made up of cEvin Key, Phil Western and Bill Van Rooy. A separate element known as The Legendary Pink Dots boils in its own beaker across the ocean in The Netherlands, but when the molecules from these two bands spill into one recording studio, the result is the Crystal Mass of The Tear Garden.

Evolving out of a creative union between Key and Pink Dot Edward Ka-Spel, Crystal Mass counts all of the Pink Dots (Ka-Spel, Ryan Moore, The Silverman, Nils Van Hoornblower and ex-member Martijn de Kleer who has since re-joined the Dots), as well as Download (Key, Western, Van Rooy) in its number. The Tear Garden has put out an album every four years for 16 years, but they always "seem to have a shortage of time," says Key, in making each album. Not this time. "Edward gave me the go-ahead in June of '98 to start this album," says Key, and it didn't get finished for a year and a half. It's one of these long-distance relationships; it's like a long-distance phone call every day that you try to accomplish your life with."

"We recorded it in so many different bits and pieces and parts," he continues. "Ryan, the bass player from the Pink Dots, first came over [to America] for about a month and a half, then there was a break. The engineer from the Pink Dots, Frank Verschuuren, came over, then Edward came over for three days and we laid down some vocals. Then I went over to Holland for three weeks, recorded some stuff there, came back and mixed and assembled all the pieces from all those times a year and a half later. This was the most fragmented, but we really had a fun time finishing it off."

Working at Key's Los Angeles-based subConscious Studios, as well as Van Hoornblower's Studio Klaverland on a beautiful nature reserve in Holland, The Tear Garden has created an odd pairing of acoustic and electronic textures in Crystal Mass. "The Tear Garden is usually our acoustic influences coming out," Key posits. "All of us were really into Pink Floyd and all sorts of psychedelia. When you're not using drum machines and synthesizers, you tend to stroll into these regions. We were inspired by Can, Faust, all sorts of early German bands, but most of the latest Tear Garden stuff has been fairly acoustic. In the beginning, we did more electronic stuff, and this is a blend of the beginning, a return to the electronic world."

With songs oscillating from 3 1/2 to 12 1/2 minutes long, Crystal Mass shifts from pure pop (the '70s-sounding, toe-tapping "Where You Gonna Go?") to moody, dark worldbeat tracks ("Juiklo") and back again, much like the constant vocal shift from deep, growling, spoken lines to high-range melodic, sung verses within one tune. Ka-Spel's singing is akin to classic Psychedelic Furs, The The or David Bowie, with hook-filled, memorable melodies sounding familiar on the first listen. Yes, hooks. Crystal Mass is a natural progression for The Tear Garden, one which stands to introduce this hybrid element of musicians to an unsuspecting new audience.

Though Skinny Puppy's sonic exorcisms will always remain the high water mark of Cevin Key's 18-year affair with fringe electronic music, the industrial deity continues to provide soundtracks for those who feed on the darker, more psychedelic sides of dance and pop. Although his current output can grow tedious, as in the case of Crystal Mass, the latest release from Key's longtime Tear Garden project (which includes Edward Ka-Spel, Ryan Moore and other members of Holland's Legendary Pink Dots). The album finds the collaborative pushing Key's ominous soundscapes into the background on most cuts, relying on meandering pop melodies and Ka-Spel's detached, passive vocals to get the mood across. Though the album's final two cuts -- "To Mourn The Death Of Color" and "Six Of One" -- achieve the synergy between spooky ambient and psychedelic pop that made past Tear Garden efforts engaging, Crystal Mass limps too long on the trail of monotony before reaching its stride. Key's remaining genius is better displayed on Effector, the fourth album from his Download outfit (this time with Phil Western). Like current sound sculptors such as Plaid, Download uses irregular beat structures, sparse melodic pulses, and eerie ambient noises that entrance with audio expressions of claustrophobia and paranoia. The Autechre-ized breakbeats on "Carrier Tone" and "Ayahuasca" slice through the amoebic washes of sound, while the hypnotizing dub groove of "Affirmed" provides a steady undercurrent for an alien melody, revealing a surprising mastery of subtlety from a musician noted for his music's intense, undiluted emotion. - M. Tye Comer, CMJ


Merciful angel
You've always been there
When it all got too painful
I was mad with despair
Lying down in the ruins
Tied with wires to this chair
You'd just point to a new star
I'd follow you there
I'd follow anywhere

Follow blind 'cause I trust you
I'm willing, I'll dare
What I don't see won't hurt me
I'll follow you there
I'll follow anywhere

Calling you now 'cause it's worse than before
When I look to the sky I see only a door
And it's black and it's bolted and it's locked from inside
So I guess things have changed, you have something to hide
You've something to hide

You were the way, and the truth, and the light
Thought you had all the answers
I'd follow you blind
Follow blind 'cause I trust you
I'm willing, I'll try
What I don't see won't hurt me
So give me a sign
Give me a sign


Don't try to bluff
I'm wearing these shades
I anticipate the moves that you make
I'm calling you now
I'm watching you sweat
I'm shaking you down
If I were your friend, well, I'd hit you now
I must stay ahead
I'm checking the scores, beginning to end
It's you who shouts more
But me who has led
Yet you're shouting more
We'll come to the end, and I'll lose this war
Oh you've changed the law
Yes you've changed the law
Less is more


Can you recall that little boy with blood-red hair
He'd kick your chair, he'd twist your arm, he didn't care
Did you ever wonder what became of Billy-Boy?
Wonderboy, the teacher's pet
Come in Billy, take a seat
Let's hear about the fun you had
This is your life
This is your life
Shake Billy's hand, kiss Billy's wife
This is your life
Remember George, who took it all against the wall?
As George the Frisbee, George the Ball?
He'd whistle as he'd fly
And you'd stand by and cheer the guys on
How's your karma?
Did you ever wonder what became of Rubber George?
This is your life
This is your life
Shake Georgie's hand, but watch his knife
This is your life
Remember Joan, you met her on the phone
That night alone you felt frustrated
Joan, the she-wolf in the shower
Always in the shower
Did you ever wonder what became of Joan the Moan?
This is your life
This is your life
Shake Joanie's gland, kiss her wife
This is your life
And it's over


What if the demons are dying, but fighting as they fade?
What if this last big battle is just a shadow-play?
What waits on the other side when the fear has gone away?
Was it all for nothing?
Will they stand there laughing?
Will they see you naked?
Where're you gonna hide?
If you can see it coming you'd better be prepared
Cast your fate on the wind that's blowing through your hair
Walk upon this fragile world like you're walking on air
It was all for something
They will see you laughing
They will see you naked
Nothing left to hide
Fear has gone away


This one's frivolous, it's laughing
Laughing loudly on my tongueI think (???) but sadly
Sadly it's me who gets the crumbs
I shall nibble with respect, ma'am
I shall pass on all the rest, ma'am
Lick your fingers, I shall crawl, ma'am
Crawl up to you on my knees
I get the peas, I get the peel, I get the pips, I pass the rest
A lovely service, but confess
Now did you cheat while playing chess?
Rattling sabers on your breast, ma'am
This job's okay, but has no prospects, ma'am
I get the peas, I get the peel, I get the pips, I pass the rest


Raised by wolves, abandoned,
Forced to stalk you, haunt your neighborhood
But full moon shocked, they raised their rifles
Lights of eyes on stronger
Slipped through cracks across your wall
Scrape the sand now from your souls
And eat your heart out
And it's cold
See me - you won't see me at your door
I'll be howling with regret
There is no pleasure
Can't forget the faces or the fear, the fires
See me - you won't see me at your door


Smoky Joe's done firing, no use hosing the remains
Now we've got drunken heads and charcoal bunnies, funky frosted flakes
Now we've got lava lamps, the toast is coasting, blocking all the drains
And me and you wound up as effigies and made the hall of fame
We are shouting, we are shouting
We are screaming
We are screaming, ahhh
I guess there won't be a model like those folks in old Pompeii
Like Tutankhamen, Cutthroat Canyon, Darby's Dungeons in Marseille
With kiddies poking and provoking, scratching, fucking (out again?)
Now we are shouting, we are shoutingWe are screaming, we are screaming, ahhh ...
We're your heritage, a monument wonderfully preserved
They came to see us by the thousands but we never ever heard
Now I really need to scratch
It's torture that these kids have gone
(And except them?) for the birds
For the birds ...
I'm shouting, I'm shouting
I'm screaming, I'm screaming, for the birds


Been here long enough now, I'm fighting the effect
Through many sunsets, dancing bones, gargling architects
A night that's old, a floor that's floating
I'd like to make a bet
That you will drag me to your room
My bloody bride
And get me bleeding for the pill
The precious pill, so switch it off now
Switch it off now, and let me sleep
Switch it off now, I'm sick of counting sheep
Switch it off now, I'm down here on my knees, saying please
The needle is a lady, and a lady needs respect
With trembling hands, she feels uneasy, she's liable to fret
And then to punish, then to tease
She'd strip you, shoot you in the knees
But she will never ever leave
Switch it off now, let me sleep
Switch it off now, I said I'm sick of counting sheep
Switch it off now, I'm down here on my knees
I'm saying please
Please ...


Take me to the other side
Take me on a joyride in a plastic capsule
Wash it down and wish the day away
The fear of flying's creeping slow
Can feel that paranoia seeping through these palms
Two lifelines winding somewhere out in space
And now I'm choking in this seat, A-33
But please believe me,
It could be a throne if you were here with me
A touch is all I need
But I'm alone, your picture bleeds for me
What exactly do you see in me?
Or I in you? Or I in you?
In our dreams we can connect
In our dreams it all seems perfect
But when morning comes, there comes the dive,I'm half alive, just half alive
And I divide ...I'll shout into the chasm of your despair
Your pleas will be answered with echoes
Me, mocking, mimicking
I don't forgive
I can't forgive you for clinging onto my coattails
Pulling me down into clinging mudInto your pit
Into your past
Into this half-world
And if I could, I'd cast you aside
But I carry your pity
You infect me, you live inside me
Squat on my shoulders, press me down
So stand up, fight me if you dare
Be a man, divide
I said, be a man, divide