Ka-spel's first major sophisticated work
Ka-spel's world view and work (both solo and with the legendary pink dots) can be very difficult to navigate for the neophyte. with so many releases, it is difficult to know where to begin, and with a complicated artist such as this, starting in the wrong place can actually be discouraging. that being said, khataclimici is not the place to start if you're unfamiliar with the work of edward ka-spel. but if you've dabbled a bit and are willing to take the next step into the man's compellingly dark and intelligent psyche, this might be worth tracking down. as with the dots, ka-spel started early on (pre-1987 or so) with a rudimentary casio style, dominated by cheap keyboard presets, lo-fi production, and composition no more complicated than arpeggiated chords and simplistic waltzes. but as his group began making its mark amongst the waxtrax! crowd, his music grew far more sophisticated, and khataclimici marks the transitional point at which his solo work also seemed to be coming of age. just as with the golden age by the lpds, khataclimici gains a symphonic depth that previous works did not have, but unlike the concurrent dots' work, the record is still a very stripped down affair - a man and a keyboard, with an occasional drum machine. the best reference point here would be the lpd's "blacklist" single, a sort of metallic, near-industrial sound that marks khataclimici as one of ka-spel's purist electro releases. but this is not in any way dance or club music... the opening, lazy pendulum swing of "tick tock" establishes this immediately. tracks like "the shadow mask" and "our lady in madras" do depend more on percussion than what is usual for a ka-spel record, and they help give the record a slight sense of aggression despite its overwhelming pensive and mellow mood. compositionally, "hotel rouge" proves to be ka-spel's most complicated and successful track yet, a three-part collage that briefly mimics the earlier "hotel blanc" (from eyes china doll) as an example of ka-spel's addictive self-referencing, but also it introduces enough challenging and experimental material to push the record above and beyond what was expected of him at this point. even the most typical track here - "dotzsong," with its cute, anthemic melody - thankfully breaks down into an extended coda of meandering, broken rhythms, like a careful, considerate plan for world destruction rather than the usual rushed apocalypse of noise that ka-spel favors. this cd edition also appends a lengthy and somewhat abrasive noise experiment ("tszrnikowskiyarrh the baptist") that apparently serves as a bridge to an upcoming album with a conceptual connection to this one; that album never happened and thus this experiment, like something from textures of illumina, sounds a bit out of place here. after this point, ka-spel's solo releases would all be major entries into his canon, and i recommended any of them first (e.g. tanith, scriptures, the blue room)... but khataclimici is certainly nothing to cough at, especially for cautious fans who want to gently unearth his '80s work.