Today is a day in which there is a wall. On the other side of the wall are the things I have to do. I want to get to these things, and do them, but there is a wall. It’s an invisible wall; I can see the things I want and need, but I cannot reach them. I stand here and stare at the things through the wall. Time leaks away, and I am staring through the wall. I stare through the wall, and I don’t think about the ways in which I could reach the things. I could climb the wall. I could go around. But I don’t. I stand here and time disappears. My brain doesn’t want to kick into gear, pick a blog topic, start that essay, read that textbook.
So I put on a record, and started typing. So far, so good. Sorta.
The record in question is brand new; it arrived outside my door a couple of hours ago. It’s the new Amanda Palmer and Edward Ka-Spel project, I Can Spin a Rainbow. Ka-Spel is probably new to a lot of people. I actually discovered the Dresden Dolls and the Legendary Pink Dots around the same time: my second year of uni, 2005. LPD are one of those weird, ethereal, 1980s gothic rock bands; see also Current 93, “Long Satan and Babylon are walking, They’re talking of fire and of ice”. Bands like them are, well, an acquired taste. Read Amanda’s LPD backstory here, it may help get an idea of what they’re like. So it doesn’t particularly surprise me that reviews for the album are mixed. If you’re not familiar with Ka-Spel’s past work, this one could potentially leave you confused and uncomfortable. I can imagine critics picking it up and thinking “what the hell is this?!”. It’s weird. It’s challenging. You have to have a taste for that sort of thing. If it’s eluding you, try listening to it at 2am while drunk. Light the room with a lava lamp. Wake your dog up for company. Have a notebook nearby.
Personally, I love it. I was mad excited when Amanda started talking about writing some songs with Edward, because I knew the album would be something special, something extraordinary. The songwriting is clever. The music makes me all nostalgic for 2005, like a brand-new blend of the self-titled Dolls album and vintage LPD. Each track has a different feel to it.
It’s taken a full listen, right now, to realise how grateful I am for this album. I needed this so bad right now. I needed that weird-gothic-art-spirit-rock with that distant twist of gloomy nostalgia. It gives me this feeling, this sort of art frame of mind I don’t have a name for. It’s a feeling I pinpoint to particular times and places; it’s walking to uni at 9am, frost on the ground but the sun on my face, listening to “Good Day”. It’s looking out my window over the city, grey skies, wondering if I can make it to the library before it rains, listening to “Belladonna” on a $3 second-hand CD. The Dolls and the Dots were part of my artistic education. This is like a refresher course, only better, because this time it’s not just me turning the music up and hoping my flatmates will ask about “that weird album”. This time 9,000 fellow patrons are along for the ride. This time I can write a rambling pseudo-review on my blog and post it to twitter.
It’s like… not like a breath of fresh air, more like a transfusion of fresh blood. It’s a whispered “hey, keep going”. It’s black magic. It’s late-night coffee. It’s following a half-stranger into a shithole bar and discovering a new band.
The LPD have this line, this motto, “Sing While You May”. I put on I Can Spin a Rainbow an hour ago and there it was, printed on the inside of the record cover. You gotta sing while you may. Get out of your own way, climb the invisible wall, and do what you love while you still have the breath to do it.