— AMANDA PALMER & EDWARD KA-SPEL – I CAN SPIN A RAINBOW —
*POWERED BY PATRONS*
The Skinny (UK) says: “Light a candle in a dark room and wrap up snug; this is a haunted house of a record… the album blends storytelling, poetry and lyricism with a wide range of soundscapes.”
The Boston Globe says: “…desiccated nightmare lullabies or ambient carousel music from the grounds of an abandoned carnival.”
i am incredibly proud of this album, which was written from scratch by me and my songwriting hero, Edward Ka-spel from The Legendary Pink Dots. this album has taken us years to finally realize, i hope you love it as much as we loved creating it.
If you want to obtain this album DIGITALLY (and note: CDs and LPs come with free download codes!) you have several options:
1. Join the Patreon. For as little as $1/month to support all my work, you will automatically have access to ALL THE TRACKS.
2. Order the 12″ double gatefold vinyl via the link below. You’ll also automatically get a download of the full album + the 2 vinyl bonus songs.
3. Stream/purchase on your preferred platform here!
ORDER ON VINYL / CD
Patron-Only! Sign-up for as little as $1 HERE to purchase the vinyl (while supplies last).
we also have a high quality 30mm pin badge, featuring “I Can Spin A Rainbow” album artwork painted by Judith Clute, available for purchase from the UK/EU store ONLY here!
A WORD FROM AMANDA
oh my god. at long, long last. this album has been years and years in the making.
i’ve told the story many times, in many places (and if you’ve read my book, The Art of Asking, you’ll know a little bit of the backstory about Edward and his band, The Legendary Pink Dots). The Dots started as a trippy/electronic/theatrical/psychedelic band in the early eighties – with members mostly from the UK (though they centered themselves in the netherlands for many years). i’ve written and blogged and spoken so much about the band’s influence on my songwriting and approach to music, fans, and authenticity, but it’s worth summarizing here, so that you understand why this particular record is so important to me, especially if you’re new to my work.
i was introduced to the pink dots when i was 15. the album, “the maria dimension“ hooked me in completely – id’ never heard music like this, songs like this, with a voice like this.
the opening song, “disturbance”, was that bizarre combination of sounds and words and feelings that didn’t make complete SENSE, but just felt TRUE.
We ride on the avalanche we climb the melting red rungs Of the ladder that leads high to a darkening moon.
We’re the watchers of disaster, we’re the dancers on your tomb. We’re the invisible invaders of your privacy… your dreams.
We’re the spectres on your screen. We murmur sweet transparent lunacy. On hot oppressive nights – you shine a light and you will see…
Just a shadow. Just a shadow. Just a shadow. ……..
my first true love, jason curtis (we were together from the time i was 15 until about 18), was the main supplier of my early dots addiction. he’d already become obsessed and had a collection of at least 10 albums, and i taped all of those records onto blank cassettes. before long, i began collecting their albums on my own and as my paltry bank account could afford, one by one, CD by CD and vinyl by vinyl, piecing together the sprawling story of this poetic piecemeal world of dotsdom. (if you’re keen to hear, i made a mixtape on spotify for the uninitiated).
those songs! that voice. edward sounded like no singer i’d ever heard. and his lyrics…it was like a constant mystery for me to unravel. there were recurring characters…but unlike the characters in velvet underground songs (stephanie, and caroline, who seemed literally to be sitting by lou’s side, shooting heroin), you got the feeling that these characters were heightened convoluted figures from edward’s life, wrapped in layers of costumes. lisa. the captain. astrid. there were strange, trippy, references to hotels where lonely ghost souls played out tragic stories into infinity. it was like listening to a sonic tarot deck (and indeed, there was a lot of tarot imagery sprinkled throughout the songs – the tower, the lovers…).
certain albums trapped me in their houses of mirrors more than others…there was “the golden age”, “any day now”, and one of my favorites, “asylum” which seemed so evocative, to me, of an actual musical soundtrack, that i wrote, workshopped, and directed a full-scale play about a man living his final night of life in an asylum (whether literal or figurative was left up to the viewer) with my high school drama comrades, using the songs as a basis for the whole show. we mounted it at the high school as part of a student-directed festival, and we were chosen – out of dozens of plays – by my high-school drama mentor, steven bogart (who directed “ cabaret” a few years ago), to compete at a state festival of high school theater….my first taste of real artistic success as a kid. i was so proud of what i’d created with my cast of five actors: a forty-five minute play that was more like a dark, surreal music video made for stage, connecting the dots (no pun) of the record. my actors were just as game as i was to come up with strange ideas for how to manifest this music into visuals. huge piles of debris were gathered on stage, executioners were towering gods, a man faced madness, a plastic baby was played as a violin, a door became the entrance to the afterworld, the ensemble fell into the world-of-the-dots with me. directing that play was one of the highlights of my high school experience; when i do theater nowadays, i still yearn for that ensemble intensity.
at the first round of competition, “asylum” was disqualified by the massachusetts drama guild festival for being too weird and having no dialogue. when the disqualifying judge invited me to stage to shake her hand, in defeat, in front of hundreds of high school theater kids, i hugged her. she was confused. my perplexing life as a compassionate iconoclast had begun.
i still have a letter that was sent to my high school’s office from the office of another high school from a girl who’d seen the play and felt changed and transformed by what she’s seen, even though she couldn’t fully understand what she was watching. my first fan letter.
i was so shocked and frustrated at the disqualification of the play that i asked my cast if they’d be willing to put the show on “in the real world”…if i could find a venue. one thing led to another and i – a relatively clueless 17 year old in matters of “the real world”- managed to partner with a guy named joe bonni, who ran a local zine called “the pit report”, to put the entire play up at a real-life nightclub in cambridge called The Middle East. joe knew local bands and billed it as a triple act, and i made the flyer with my step-dad’s office xerox machine:
i made tons of copies of the flyer and stuffed them into the pink dots sections of all the record stores in harvard square (back when there were seven record stores in harvard square…sigh). i went to WZBC and did an interview. my theater friends from high school ran the sound and lights. five actors, two crew, and me. seven weird high school kids, some as young as 15, in a nightclub basement where we’d never been allowed before. we were in heaven. we promised not to drink.
and we weren’t just any kids, we were bogart-inspired brecht-and-butoh loving theater kids, which meant that on opening night, we did crazy theater exercises “feeling” the nightclub space, placing our hands and heads against the beer-sticky floor boards and exploring every square inch of the disgusting carpeted stage with our eyes closed, while making “AAAAHHHHHH” sounds while the bar-backs looked up from their tasks getting cups and napkins ready, totally weirded out. (did i mention i still miss my free-wheeling high school theater days?) a few hundred people sat in seats and watched (and loved) our strange play with no dialogue. i felt like i’d somehow beat the system. fuck those high school drama guild people. this was the real world.
my obsession with the pink dots continued into college.. the songs were the soundtrack to my life, and wherever i went, i went with a walkman and tapes of dots records in tow. there was always more music…they collaborated frequently with others and their sprawling scene was wide and far…and many many CDs and record tempted me from the “imports” bin of tower records: there was edward’s side project with cevin key of skinny puppy (The Teargarden), there was edward’s solo work, there were side projects from almost every other member of the band, there were bands in the same vein like current 93 (oh those songs!), death in june, coil, nurse with wound. i would never again believe that REM and The Cure were the totality of alternative music.
i wrote a long passage in The Art of Asking about seeing the dots at a small night club in Boston and meeting my musical hero, edward ka-spel, for the first time. how humble he was. how i wanted to somehow transmit to him just WHAT his music and words meant to me – and how impossible it seemed to express such things. and how incredibly kind they were to their fans. how it seemed that in one moment, they were mystical, otherworldly entertainers and the next, guys sitting on a grungy club stage signing CDs, but how both personae seemed totally authentic.
the pink dots weren’t a fancy-ass band with groupies and glitz. they toured on bare-bones budgets, playing to hundreds of people a night, not thousands, and they toured constantly.
this was all pre-internet days, remember. it was the mid-nineties and the web was just crawling into being. the first exciting encounter i had with the web was getting an AOL account – but i had nobody to write to. the only other people i knew with email accounts were my goddamn parents. somehow – and i forget how – i found the pink dots bulletin board system, and coincidentally it was run by a guy from boston, alan ezust. there was a little community of people who loved the pink dots right in my home city: alan, jon whitney, who also ran the proto-band-loving website brainwashed.com, and sandy charron, a DJ at the freeform college radio station WZBC. they became my first friends-through-the-internet, and since we shared a love of the dots, our friendship deepened at shows and events, and soon we were all hanging out in real life. it was that posse that welcomed me over to alan’s house, where i actually got to “meet the band”. i wrote at length about that night in The Art of Asking (go read it), but suffice it to say, it was a life-changing one. edward listened to my first demo tape (at this point, less than twenty human beings had actually heard ANY of my songwriting – and the idea of ANYone, much less my hero, listening to my songs made me paralytic)….and he privately encouraged me to keep writing and recording. it was like getting permission from god to be a real artist. i floated on a cloud for a few weeks after that moment. i was real.
when i found out through the grapevine that the pink dots were coming through boston and needed a “place to crash” when i was about 19, i asked my parents if we could volunteer our house. they said yes (forever grateful, folks) and my first karmic contribution to the great rainbow-circle of couchsurfing was cast. jason stayed the night, we made the band eggs, my life was basically complete.
a few years later, i was studying in germany and went to see the band on tour in cologne. since i spoke fluent german, they asked if i wanted to hop in the van for a few shows and help sell CDS to the german fans. it was like being asked to run off with the circus. i ditched my university responsibilities and Got In The Van. experiencing lo-budget van touring (I LOVED IT) changed my life, and when i look back, it was the first time i really got a taste of what it meant to travel from town to town, doing the business of making music for people. i was also an epic drunk in those days…but i’ll save most of those harrowing stories for a later book. suffice it to say i humiliated myself by drunkenly shoplifting my own bands merch, a move that i carried like a shackle of extreme shame for years until i finally begged edward’s forgiveness about fifteen years after the fact. he forgave me. poor drunk amanda.
i left college. i started the dresden dolls. and by around 2006, we were big enough in germany to invite the legendary pink dots to be our opening act for a run of shows.
it was hamburg where we played the first night together, and can’t describe to you how fucking artistically explosive that night was for me, and for brian. i got made-up and ready early, i watched the band play their entire set, with those sparks in my heart just as strong as when i stood at edward’s feet when i was 15, and then we took stage ourselves, riding on the flame that they had lit. i still rank that show as one of the best the dresden dolls have ever played. we were on FIRE that night, lit by the fuse of history and inspiration.
and i think it was on that tour that edward and i had The First Conversation. could we make a Thing together someday? a recording of some kind, co-write music? he said yes, and i floated on a cloud for another few weeks…thinking that everything in my life really had come full circle. some people probably fantasized about working with brian eno or bowie – i fantasized about working with my own heroes. this guy.
that was 2007 or so, and the dresden dolls were at the peak of touring and chaos. there was no place to pencil in a side-project. after that last round of dolls touring, i broke off to make “who killed amanda palmer”, and my solo career engulfed me. edward and i would run into each other every few years at a show, or email occasionally, and try to nail down a time. in 2013, we set aside a few weeks to work, and i had to cancel because my personal and physical life was in meltdown (long story, still too sensitive).
“theatre is evil” and kickstarter-year-of-hell then devoured my schedule, and edward and i aimed for 2015. this time i actually made it on the plane and over to his house, but i was in a shaky and sort of terrifying emotional place…my best friend anthony’s health was on the brink and there was no telling what could happen. he’d beat his cancer several times but he was on the unknown yo-yo of cancer fate. every time i left boston, i left in fear that i was going to have to turn around and race home.
this time, those fears were founded. neil and i were staying in a cute little air bnb near waterloo. i was seven months pregnant with ash. i remember anthony calling me a few days before recording started – i was in the bath (i was in the bath a lot when i was pregnant). he said things felt strange. that the cancer was back, full-force. that things might be turning bad. that he didn’t really know what to tell me. he sounded weak, and distant, and hollow. it was the last real conversation i ever had with him. i hung up the phone, shaken.
edward lived about an hour’s train journey away, and i traveled out there that first day on a series of subways and trains, thinking that our dream project was going to finally come true at long last. we sat in his comfy little house, made tea, played with his wonderful little six-year-old, alice, and started to write. edward had some starting lyrics for “the jack of hands”, and we dug right in, putting them to music and coming up with new parts. i got on the train to go home, feeling the buzz of magic and creation, and snuggled into bed with neil, trying to brush off the specter of something terrible happening.
the next morning i boarded the subway, then another subway, then a train, and when the train popped above ground, i got a phone call from nicholas, my friend who was with anthony. his wife had died of MS, and he had been with her. he was crying. he was in the car with anthony. he said “Amanda, it’s time. you should come home, honey.” and i broke down, alone there in the train car. i take that back, i wasn’t alone. there was one nice old british lady, sitting across from this sobbing pile of 7-month pregnant woman, and she asked “if i was alright, love?” i still remember and feel the warmth of her concern. i told her i’d had bad news about a friend’s health, and she clucked and patted me. i texted neil and told him we had to go home, as soon as possible. he found a flight. i got off the train and edward was there, waiting to pick me up at the station for our second day of writing. i couldn’t help myself and i burst out sobbing in his arms. edward isn’t really a sobber, i don’t think. but he understood. he comforted and forgave me as i blubbered that i had to literally get back on the train to go to the airport to be with my friend while he died.
i grieved that night more than i ever grieved after anthony died. i remember neil holding my hair back as i vomited into the toilet of our air bnb in waterloo, sobbing so loudly it was ear-piercing. pregnancy and death. i recommend it.
and that was why the record didn’t record in 2015.
the last thing i said to edward, as i hugged him on that train platform and thanked him for being so understanding, was that i promised, dearly and deeply and on my crossed heart, that’d come back within a year to finish our yet-again-aborted record. i think that promise was more for me than it was for him: we were now batting 0 for 2, and i was naively terrified that having a baby was going to mean the abortion of art-everything.
i held anthony while he died and prayed that his soul, wherever it was headed (into oblivion? into the dark? into the next wherever?) might spare a few of it’s soul-atoms and jump into the fetus i was carrying. ash, short for anthony (because we could) was born two months later, and i fell off the face of the earth into a nest of diapers and love.
i took a few months off, after which i flitted about making little side projects (the david bowie EP, the “machete” song), and i prioritized getting back to edward’s house. spending even that one day writing “the jack of hands” with him had inspired me and ignited me – i knew this process was going to be important, and healing, and big, and returning to the UK with a baby in tow in the spring didn’t seem impossible. i hadn’t had much experience with all-day babysitters or childcare yet (i took care of little anthony-ash single-handedly with neil’s help for the first three months, and then started exploring the world of Help). so i arranged a full-time babysitter for the month of june, got on a plane with neil, occupied yet another air bnb (this time in lisson grove) and traveled back to edward’s house – this time, with a baby. he was nine months old.
as far as HOW to co-write a record, where to start, what to do, i hadn’t really the slightest clue….i trusted edward’s process, but we were incredibly fortunate in one regard: i’d called up the electronic musician imogen heap to ask if she had any recommendations for recording studios in london. edward thought that we’d be able to record the majority of the record at his house, but that it wouldn’t be a bad idea to get into a real studio for a few days with great microphones and other tools and toys that only a pro studio can provide.
having never made a real record in london, i was clueless about studios, and imogen was the only pro i knew in town. i called her. “where are you looking? what part of town?”, she asked. i said: “well, london is huge, so maybe closer to edward’s, which is faaaaar from everything, it’s in hornchurch, in essex, like an hour outside of town.” “amanda,” she said, “that’s right up the road from my house. why don’t you just use my studio? i’ll be gone making the music for the harry potter play.” (of course you will be, imogen).
and that’s how we wound up making almost all of the record at imogen heap’s house.
imogen’s house is a giant elliptical wonderland with a home recording studio in the basement. there was no huge mixing board, but that wound up not mattering, because edward engineered the entire album using ableton, on his laptop. (yes, listen hard, the entire album was recorded on laptop, which is impressive given how rich it is.)
she let us have full use of her weird instruments (she had a TON), and the space directly inspired some of the songs. the glockenspiel helped me to write “the clock at the back of the cage”, and the marxopone, waterphone and vibraphone (instruments i’d never imaged needing for this record) wound up inspiring entire sessions.
edward and i did the majority of writing at his house, but we bounced back and forth between his place and imogen’s, juggling our family schedules and children, and bit by bit, a record began appearing.
i started some songs. he started some songs. some songs came from lost voice memos that i’d sent myself years back with little song ideas. some songs came from lyrics that edward had in his mac vault and never set to music. some songs came out of piano improvisations that i’d do while edward listened. sometimes edward would scroll through loops that he’d recorded until i heard one that i liked, and i’d find a bass pattern to add to it – and the whole thing would suggest the lyrics. every song had a different genesis, and no one song was written completely by one of us or the other (though there are some sets of lyrics that are almost totally edward, like “the jack of hands”, and some that are almost totally me, like “the clock at the back of the cage”).
it was a new process for me, to share songwriting as an act. jason webley and i co-wroite the entirety of “evelyn evelyn” (yes, the jig is up, we actually did write that record)….but that record was so silly and absurd it didn’t feel difficult to sit down and bang out songs with a friend. but for “real” songs, emotional songs, i’m usually such a solitary songwriter, and i always found it really disorienting, the idea that you could do this WITH somebody. to me, songs have always been things i created alone and then presented to someone else to arrange or record (all of the dresden dolls material worked like that), and even THAT i would very difficult, because my little personal songs always feel so vulnerable. i still cringe and cower every time i play someone, even a trusted producer or engineer, a song for the first time.
edward really help me grow and say “fuck it” in this department – he had no shame around mumbling words and images into existence while i noodled on the piano, he had no problem doing lyrical open-heart surgery on himself before my very eyes. WHY NOT, indeed? it was a lesson, a reminder, that we get attached to (and buried in) our own ideas of How Art Is Supposed To Be Made. art can get made any way you want, you just have to fucking Do It. and i love watching my own assumptions about process and ritual and importance get steamrolled by another artist. but then again, not any artist could do that to me. i had so much love and respect for edward that perhaps only he could pry me open like that.
here is my mac versus edward’s mac. sometimes we traded lyrics back and forth via email 10 or 12 times before we had a final shape for a song.
we can spin a rainbow.
edward also taught me how to make a “proper” cup of english tea. even though it was fucking JUNE, it was, of course, often cold and shitty out, because England.
so, several times a day, while edward was working on perfecting some effect or patch, i’d run upstairs to make him marmite toast (I KNOW) and a perfect cup of british tea. it reminded me, i realized, of a beautiful gesture i remember seeing when i was in my early twenties and attending a shintaido retreat in new england. the younger martial arts instructors would, every night after a session, bring their sensei dinner on a beautiful tray. it wasn’t just the food: there were little arranged flowers, the segment of orange were arranged in an artistic way with deliberation and care… it was an offering of creative love that the younger ones were offering up to their teacher. i always felt like edward was my sensei, of sorts, and i took an immense pleasure in trying to get his tea right, with the exact correct marmite (I KNOW – IT’S TERRIBLE) to butter ratio on his toast.
there were many jars of marmite at imogen’s:
this is not perfect toast. this one is a failure:
in total, we spent about three weeks writing, fiddling, recording, listening, and creating.
most of the record didn’t get mixed until i left and edward attacked the tracks with a more fine-toothed fervor.
so many hours were spent talking and mulling over the state of humanity, the terror around us, the impending election. our personal lives intermingled with the catastrophes of the news cycle. wound itself up into musical gloves and hats and scarves and made it into, one way or another, musical form.
there was one very liberating element of co-writing this record which is hard to put into words, but i’ll try, and it’s this: i regained my access to a more poetic headspace than i’ve had in years. i’ve felt my own songwriting veer more and more, over the course of the last decade or so, towards the literal.
if you know my canon of work, compare a song like “slide”, “bad habit” and “half jack” (which i wrote at fifteen, eighteen, and twenty-two, respectively) to songs like “in my mind” and “bigger on the inside” (written at the ages of around 33 and 35) and you’ll understand what i mean. those earlier songs were written when i was really enthralled with and imitating bands like the pink dots, where layers of costuming (and, if you speak the metaphor of the Blender, which i discuss in my book) were all part of the aesthetic. i used to write with a higher blender setting, putting more imagistic costumes over things.
working with edward gave me my blender-hands back. i pureed more of my emotions into images instead of letting them be known directly. it felt wonderful – because it’s a skill i’ve always enjoyed having and deploying, but i’ve drifted. writing “the clock at the back of the cage”, alone one rainy night on imogen’s glockenspiel, was something that probably wouldn’t have happened if i hadn’t been in edward’s company. it’s one of the best songs i feel i’ve written in years. edward gave me that gift.
some of the songs suggested violin or strings, and one of my favorite era of the dots album’s were the recordings with patrick q. wright, aka patrick q. paganini. i asked edward if patrick might be keen to overdub some violin onto some of the songs. we started emailing him mixes to his house in italy, and he got to work layering on solos and ideas which edward and i would listen to in imogen’s basement.
it was christmas morning every time a patrick email came in.
(here’s a vintage picture of patrick avec violin)
here’s edward, fiddling at imogen’s board desk-with-no-board:
imogen’s kitchen. here’s edward holding little anthony-and-ash-for-short, imogen holding her daughter, scout, and edward’s daughter alice peeping in-between:
keys and words:
imogen’s basement studio… edward hard at work. note imogen’s grammy collection on the far shelf
the view from the top of imogen’s round house. NOT BAD.
as for the ALBUM ARTWORK….deserves a story in itself.
neil and i have been staying forever at a flat in camden belonging to the magical and wonderful couple john and judith clute. john is the editor of the encyclopedia of SF, and judith is a phenomenal painter. she adores edward ever since i introduced them a few years back, and she was a natural pick for an album artist. as soon as we had a rough mix of the entire record to listen to, we sent her the whole album with some ideas for themes and images, and she went to work on a painting for the record cover. we wound up using a detail from the painting for the cover and the entire painting for the back-cover artwork. it’s absolutely gorgeous and judith went through months of tweaking and re-iterations to get the painting the way she wanted…. here’s an early draft, complete with baby, taken in the Clute Kitchen:
and that’s, more or less, the whole story of the record, my beautiful friends.
i’d like to add, in closing, that this entire process was made so much more pleasurable and enjoyable because of the patreon. from the first blog i posted to the patrons when i had to pull the plug on recording session number one (read it here), the growing number of patrons has been watching me evolve and work through this entire, long-ass process. it means everything to me, as usual, that i’m not just churning this album out for a label and hoping some people might be interested after the fact. i’m making the art i want to make, with the people that i love, for the people that i love, which is how i think it ought to be.
i did an interview this morning with a newspaper who wanted to talk about the record, and we got onto the subject of patreon and how it’s changed everything, including the creative process. and it has. i found myself saying: “music shouldn’t be about selling and buying music. music should be about making and listening to music. the patreon has finally given me back my freedom to spend way more time thinning about making music, instead of panicking about how i’m going to get people to buy it.”
so if you’re reading this, and you’re one of my patrons, i cannot thank you enough. your patience and your faith in me and your support to help me create things like this record with edward (because, at the end of the day, things do cost money…there are plane and train tickets to buy, and staff and babysitters to pay, and air bnbs and equipment to rent, and painters to pay, and we need to eat, and so on and so forth)…it’s the stuff dreams are made of. i hope, when you listen to this album, you remember all the moments of synchronicity and love that went into finally creating it. it’s an art-love-stew of epic proportions.
speaking of the press, i often have found myself saying, when talking about my influences like edward and the legendary pink dots: there is no way i can ever repay that gift of inspiration. but in a sense, being able to share the bounty of my patreon with edward is a repayment so far beyond the money and the checks cut. it’s a direct karmic circle – his gift to me, in a roundabout way, became your gift to me, which now lands back in his lap. and this is how art and the world work when we are at our best … wherever we find ourselves in the circle, we take care of each other.
it all comes back around. i also feel this deep, smoldering gratitude to jason, who gave me the gift of so many things in so many departments; love, music, germany – he laid the seedling groundwork for so much of who i would become. i still love him so much.
ah, and did i mention that my first U.S. show with edward (we are about to go on tour, along with patrick the violinist) is at…the middle east in cambridge? that wasn’t a coincidence. i chose it deliberately. before the show, you may see my with closed eyes, feeling the floorboards….
lastly…please, please, i beg of you, share this album with others. we are not on a label, there is no massive promotional machine to push it into the world. it is you. tweet it, facebook it, instragram it, email it, mention it at your local bar. i rely on you, the listener, to help me get this album, and these songs that we worked so hard on, further out into the world. thank you in advance. use this page to link to.
and, above all, please join the patreon, source of all beauty. here’s the link: https://www.patreon.com/amandapalmer
i love you.
p.s. oh one more thing. PLEASE, LISTEN WITH HEADPHONES ! or ON GOOD SPEAKERS WITH EXCELLENT BASS! this album is mixed in stereo, and it’s got a lot of detail, laptop and phone-speaker listening just won’t cut it. i also highly recommend taking it for a drive. it’ll creep the fuck out of you (especially when you get to the murderous car-sound-effects of “rainbow’s end”), but it’s an excellent album for the open road.
AND NOW, A WORD FROM EDWARD
Sometimes it’s like the stars line up and grant permission for a magical event to occur only when they are absolutely ready.
We talked about making music together for a long time but, beyond the obvious geographical hurdle things never quite worked out- even in 2015 when we actually started recording and managed a full 3 hours with the machines switched on.
A personal tragedy saw Amanda sadly having to fly home to Boston, yet that session left us with a very raw version of “The Jack Of Hands” and a feeling of “What If…”which nagged at us for a year.
The stars chose their moment at the start of a glorious London summer last year, forming an encouraging upright thumb – like the one you keep seeing in Facebook messages these days – and we merely followed the script.
I felt like we literally poured ourselves into the recording and I can honestly say “I Can Spin A Rainbow” feels like one of my personal finest hours…We’re proud of this one…Bless you all…EK
May 17 - The Middle East - Boston, MA – SOLD OUT
May 20 - Bowery Ballroom - New York, NY – SOLD OUT
May 21 - Rough Trade - Brooklyn, NY – SOLD OUT
May 23 - DNA Lounge - San Francisco, CA – SOLD OUT
May 24 - Troubadour - Los Angeles, CA – SOLD OUT
May 29 – Hay Festival – Wales – TICKETS
May 31 - Proxima - Warsaw - TICKETS
June 1 - Muffathalle - Munich - TICKETS
June 2 - Wave-Gotik-Treffen - Leipzig - TICKETS
June 4 - Palác Akropolis - Prague – SOLD OUT
June 5 - Fabrik - Hamburg - TICKETS
June 9 - Trix Club - Antwerp - TICKETS
June 10 - Melkweg - Amsterdam - TICKETS
June 11 - Cigale - Paris - TICKETS
June 13 - Heaven - London - TICKETS
June 16 - Porgy & Bess - Vienna – SOLD OUT
June 17 - Traumzeit Festival - Duisburg - TICKETS
June 18 - Maifeld Derby Festival - Mannheim - TICKETS
BEYOND THE BEACH VIDEO
I’m excited to announce that there will be multiple patron-funded videos being released alongside this record! this first video, a short animation made by chiara, isn’t an official Patreon Thing…this one’s on us, and we hope you love it. i reached out to chiara with the entire record and asked if there were any songs that spoke to her…and she picked “beyond the beach”. it’s one of the shortest songs on the record, and i absolutely love what she did with it. stay tuned for more visits and please join the patreon to fund the upcoming endeavors…i cannot wait to show you what we’ve got up our sleeves.
You can also watch on Vimeo here!
ABOUT THE PROCESS (from Chiara Ambrosio):
“Beyond The Beach”- together with the other tracks on this majestic album- is a powerful, melancholy and enchanting evocation of life at its most fragile and beautiful. When I first listened to it, it stirred some strong, visceral and contradictory sensations in me: the dichotomy of danger/shelter, departures/arrivals, longing/belonging, familiar/estranged… overall a sense of a reversed birth, somehow an attempt to go back to a moment of grace, of purity and hope- a search for home in a world eternally shifting and eluding our grasp. In many ways it chimed deeply with all that is happening in the world at this very moment: so much sadness, loss, displacement, despair… but in the midst of it all, those small beacons of grace, light and kindness that keep pointing the way towards redemption.
And these are the images that instinctively came up as a visual counterpoint for the song:
objects scattered in the dark emptiness- a glass, shoes, a bottle, a book, a pen, a mirror, a toppled house, melted ice, a handwritten letter, drawings, an expired ticket, a newspaper, an open suitcase- all covered in thick ash…
the debris of an existence: a suggestion of interrupted travel/ migration, a failed arrival…
hands emerge from the darkness and reach into the ash that fills the suitcase…
a small puppet, plied by time, her eyes opaque- blind from having seen too much or from having been newly born.
I had been wanting to return to puppetry ever since living in Prague in the mid ’00, where I studied and worked with some of the luminaries of this art form. The nature of this song, suspended somewhere between life and death, between the past and the future, offered the perfect occasion to do so. It all started with Edward Ka-Spel’s broken voice proclaiming: “I have an extra hand to hold you in”… and that was that. I asked Mikey Kirkpatrick to lend his sensitive hands to the piece and in a very short space of time we brought this dream/ prayer to life.
As always, working with Amanda (and with the invaluable support of her generous Patreon members) is a rare and wonderful experience: her music is a fertile and inspiring orchard in which to sow and reap new images, and her trust in my vision gives me the space and freedom to push my own boundaries as an artist without any compromise or constraint. This is a truly rare experience.
Chiara Ambrosio is an Italian filmmaker and visual artist based in London.
Her work includes experimental documentary, stop-motion animation, and various collaborations with musicians, performance artists, composers, and writers.
This is her third collaboration with Amanda Palmer, following her animations for “Evelyn Evelyn” and “Wynken, Blynken & Nod”.
“Evelyn Evelyn” music video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pixkuUL9LgU
“Wynken, Blynken & Nod” music video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kFeXqRX2nN8
Mikey Kirkpatrick is a songwriter, musician and performer based in London.
He performs as Bird Radio and has released two albums on SFE/Cherry Red Records. His most recent project was “Oh, Happy England”, a song-cycle based on the poetry of Walter De La Mare.
He composes original music and performs for theatre and puppetry, and has collaborated with many international companies and circus acts.
THE CLOCK AT THE BACK OF THE CAGE
A NOTE FROM AMANDA:
hallo loves. this song, “the clock at the back of the cage,” is far and away my favorite on the “i can spin a rainbow” album, because it’s the most painfully personal.
edward and i co-wrote this whole record together sitting in his house (in hornchurch) and in imogen’s house (in havering-atte-bower)…and we took turns starting/continuing different songs. this song was penned mostly by me, with edward’s magical production touches and vocals bringing it to life. i wrote it late one night on imogen’s glockenspiel in the basement….and it was one of the most kismet-y moments of the whole recording process when i looked at edward the next day after playing it and singing it for him, and i said: “but….you sing this one. it will mean more to me.”
we got to work and i decided to sing the chorus – to make it a duet of sorts – edward narrates, i fill in. all of the sound effects are edward’s. oh, loves….listening to my most personal of lyrics coming out of edward’s mouth, in That Voice (edward’s voice still brings me to tears, sometimes, it’s so fragile and broken, and it was the soundtrack to my teenage years)….it was like a full circle rainbow of art and pain and time.
the video came about in a similar cosmic collision. christy and luke were friends-of-friends in circus-world and this whole video process happened REALLY FAST. christy and i got together in the first place just so we could introduce our babies and talk about motherhood – she’s got a little boy named tully who is just a few months younger than ash. and then art happened.
FUCKING…..YAY MOMS MAKING ART. i’m a fan. i asked christy if she would write up something about the PAIN AND SUFFERING of making stop-animation…and there’s some great production stills below, and she came back with so much of the story that i don’t need to tell you much. but yes…i was dreaming up some kind of animated otherworldly video for this song when all of a sudden christy and luke plopped into my life, and happened to be perfect. so we just went with it. the result is, i think, one of the best videos to come out of AFP-land in a long time, and i’m really really proud we went for it. stop-motion is PAINSTAKING….you can’t believe the amount of work that goes into just a few seconds of what you are watching. it’s why it is so important to me that you watch this ON A FULL SCREEN, AS LARGE AS POSSIBLE – you’ll get so much more out of it! i am seriously grateful to christy, luke, chris (who dropped everything to squeeze this directing job in) and ALL the behind-the-scenes assistants and helpers who made this video fly.and, because i cannot resist….here’s a picture of OUR BABIES, ash and tully, BEING CUTE TOGETHER (neil’s comment: “Elf in semi-convincing human form contemplates luring a human baby off to Elfland.”
ABOUT THE PROCESS
A NOTE FROM CO-DIRECTOR CHRISTY LOUISE FLAWS
Amanda said “I just trust you”. Luke and I are so used to such a long lead in for projects… imagine the thing, talk to other people about the thing, try to find a space, some money, a space to rehearse to perform, find a way to pay for costumes, build the set over long long nights while everyone else has gone home. And then there was this bizarre and beautiful situation, two months to conceive and then we were on the floor of a mostly empty warehouse in Pascoe vale.
There was something Chris said at some point, which stayed with me, “There is a kind of inherent suffering in this process.” There was something slightly insane about the slowness of the work and then there were moments where we would have a break and the last 3 hours work was turned into this moving breathing thing and we grinned and slammed back sweet drinks and handfuls of chips and chocolate and kept going like some kind of surreal teenage sleepover. One night around 6 hours was spent with Luke lying on the ground where we would take breaks when he was about to lose it and would shout something along the lines of “is the timer on? Get the photo I have to move, I can’t hold it”.
Directed by: Christy Louise Flaws, Chris Bennett, & Luke O’Connor Cinematography: Chris Bennett Performed by: Christy Louise Flaws & Luke O’Connor Artistic assistants: Amanda Sabo, Helen Turton, Ollie Versteegen Christy Louise Flaws & Luke O’Connor are: www.askingfortrouble.com.au Chris Bennett is: www.undergroundmedia.net.au & www.chrisbennett.net.au
Special Thanks to Dan Rabin at www.thecircusspot.com.au for the use of his venue, to Jens Altheimer for the use of his equipment, to Tim Elliott for behind the scenes photography, to Tim Elliott and Lauren Cruickshank for props and assistance, to all the people who donated clothes and fabric, and to Deborah James and Robert Murray for baby wrangling. We couldn’t have done it without you.
I CAN SPIN A RAINBOW LYIRCS
1 – PULP FICTION
We came here as a matching set
The six of us, just us six innocents
A blind date at the fiction
May I peek through your blue eyes?
The night is white the lights are flashing
And the six us of are hot
Although it’s March, you’ll find us splashing
Where the rest of you would not
The room just keeps on spinning as the bad boys play roulette
I lost a shoe, but I keep winning
No contusions no regret
Because it’s better to be hammered than a useless rusty nail
It’s all the sixes, and we’re set, into the morning Abigail
I’m on my knees
Is there anybody down there?
You won’t find anybody in here…
We’re flying at the fiction on a night you won’t believe
Free spirits flailing in the fountain
And near nothing underneath
It’s like the movie where she gets the guy
And takes the plane and leaves
The tragic facts of life for losers for a life less ordinary
They all shoot horses, don’t they?
Sure we’re doomed to drop
I don’t care how long it takes
Just need to make it to the shops
So can you help me cause I need it
Got my head stuck in this pail
The weekend’s young, and I am trying
Turn the light on Abigail
I’m on my knees
Can’t find anybody in here
For pity’s sake, what would I have to
Take for you to listen
So please don’t shout
Don’t take any pictures
I’m so sorry, Abby, really
Being blinded by the fiction
2 – SHAHLA’S MISSING PAGE
I have a little vial
A little plastic vial
I keep it in my pocket
Deep down where no one sees it
I’ve carried it for twenty
Two and a half years and we
Touch through the tall electric
Fence wearing masks and blankets
My father always told me
To keep a glass of pepper
So I could fight the night men
So I could sleep forever
If they found my hiding spot
I’ll tell you where I keep it locked
At night the code is 3-2-1
Share it with our sons
The crack of dawn and rifling
We heard the sound of engines
It was the wind perhaps the
Living room floor collapsing
My father always told me
To say a little prayer
Before I lay my head down
Before the men take over
Eyes tight, one step, I stumble
Into a night dressed navy
I promised, and you promised
I see our children waving
3 – THE SHOCK OF KONTAKT
Astrid, do you recall the Sundays at the Spa with double straws
From a carton with a heart on?
Who could ask for more?
You’d assure me you’d support me
As I tried to write that novel
In the hovel we called home
You’d mow the lawn
You’d pay the bills
You touched me there
You touched me there
The shock of kontakt kept us warm
The shock of kontakt kept us warm
The shock of kontakt kept us warm
Astrid, you kept your word
You never said a word
As I ripped up the pages
Spent your wages
Entertaining friends you hated
I planted them in galleries
Your salary it was wasted (oh, how criminal)
They cut the power
They pulled the plug
They took away the phone
We’re quite alone
We share a candle in the cellar
Oh, you touched me there
The shock of kontakt kept us warm
The shock of kontakt kept us warm
The shock of kontakt kept us warm, warm, warm, warm, warm…
And Astrid, as sure as blue skies always turn to grey
They came with guns
I tried to run
And you took all the blame
They took you and I never said a word
And now you never say a word
As I lean through the bars
I whisper my apologies
Oh, jesus you stare clean through me
You cut me down
Still, I touch you there
I touch you there
The shock of kontakt keeps us warm
I touch you there
The shock of kontakt keeps us warm
4 – BEYOND THE BEACH
I cannot recommend the cherries hanging low from this old tree
They glow on moonless nights and taste a bit like paraffin
It’s been a decade since it happened, and we’re told we can return
But maybe best to boil the water, ignore the after burn
I have an extra hand to hold you with
I have an even tan to show off with
A chest like Annapurna
A heart of precious stone
Maybe a slow burner but there’s steel in them dry bones
Mountain man learned to be patient
In a world that keeps mutating
My, oh my, just look how we have grown
And the Geiger counter’s ticking,
Mountain man is coming close
Been 2 years, the baby’s kicking
A hundred little toes
Mountain man may be a virgin
Aren’t we all?
5 – THE CLOCK AT THE BACK OF THE CAGE
We used to talk all the time
The blindfolded bodies you stacked in the barn
And they told you not to look behind you
The elephants walk in a line
The ringmaster takes off his hat to the queen
And she opens her mouth as they file inside
You used to tell me the hurt
The way they would strap you
In freezing white basements
And wire your heart til your hopefulness burst
The queen cannot fit through the arch
So she strips off your sisters and tells you to march
And you fall in line with your hands on your throat
The parade of paralysis starts
The ringmaster heads into town for the day
When they were just little he’d staked them in place
They’re free now to roam
And they’re free to run home
But they’ve lost the idea of escape
How they crowned you
Weighted and drowned you
How they made you numb
No bandage around you
I’ve found and unwound you
Now how to make you run
And the queen she is falling apart
She clutches the bannister shaking in shock
At the ugliness of her own heart
The ugliness of her own heart
I had a dream that we talked
We went to the White Cliffs and went for a walk
And I counted the times that our true loves had died
And you took my hand and looked over the side
And we saw your body down there
Getting taken away by the tide
Now they’re all gone but you’ve stayed
The door is unlatched, but you are not afraid
There’s a nice patch of straw and a comfortable cage
The door is unlatched, but you’re not afraid
There’s a nice patch of straw and a comfortable cage
How they crowned you
Weighted and drowned you
How they made you numb
No bandage around you
I’ve found and unbound you
Now how to make you run, run, run, run, run…
6 – THE CHANGING ROOM
Carolina Caterpillar’s curled up on a leaf
Counting all the new friends that are on her list to leave
Cocoons aren’t made for communes
She needs her wings to spread
A forest of old lovers
Not enough for playing dead
“It’s not easy being inconclusive”
The sink tastes like an ashtray
Never washed, and upside down
“Get a life” says old aunt agony
She turns the volume down
Teleports back to the bathroom
Where she might be found
Reclining Venus, extra furs
So fine in such a gown
“It’s not easy being inconvenient”
Now she’ll purr like Eartha Kitt with bloody nails
The cat stares from the pillow
Never judging, only sits
If she learned how to be patient
No need to bite her tail
The Oracle, she’s ancient
She did not inhale
Carolina Caterpillar slips from hive to hive
She stops off at the pink dot to get cigarettes and flies
She knows she’s got an hour before something in her dies
“It’s not me, it’s you, and that’s what’s tragic”
7 – THE JACK OF HANDS
Charity begins at homes
For those too sick
Footsteps in the corridor
Little Johnny’s playing dead
They gave the Jack of Hands the key
He’s free to tread and lift the sheets
He’ll be dressed in white they said
But I don’t believe in angels
When the good son rises
When we hear the birds
Little Johnny’s curled up and crying
Alas a touch disturbed
The Jack of Hands is far away
He’s opening a school
They’ll offer him a chariot
But Jack prefers to walk
Jack is coming
Jack is coming
Like you’re sleeping
Like you’re sleeping
He’s carrying his special box
No one ever asks what’s in it
No more suffer little children
Jack’ll fix it
Jack’ll fix it
It’s Jack the national treasure
Jack’s beating on his chest
He’s flying off to Africa
Cause Africa’s the best
They’ll cordon off the airport
Because the crowd is vast
And Jack will play the trinity
He’ll be home at last
Still I don’t believe in angels
8 – PRITHEE: LIQUIDATION DAY
You make the sun shine
Keep me warm at night
Sometimes you are my guiding light
When I’m weak or desperate
You’ll stretch out your hand
It’s a hand that offers courage
It’s a hand that calms me down
And leads me to a land that we
Discovered countless years ago
Still young enough to change
This wicked world
So tell me angel, where to now?
Shall we chase rainbows
Ride the stars by night
Be my second sight
Show me our tomorrows
‘Cause I can’t dream alone
Good Queen Regina has a baby
Needs to shop with just one arm
The retinue is panicking
She stays completely calm
Despite the flying mandarins
The rattling tine, the all-encompassing alarm
Because it’s Liquidation Day
Ma’am’s one with the people
The Lady Grey is floating
And the camera’s zooming in
And baby’s loudly choking as
synthetic violins provide a sense of dignity
And keep it neat
And mute the screams
Ma’am’s one with the people
And everything must go
Royal trucks have blocked the road
The cordon’s set in stone
Yet her subjects stand there waving
The flags are at half price
‘Cause it pays to advertise
And everybody’s nice
They’re craving (craving)
Good Queen Regina blows a kiss
To show she’s just like one of us
Never fully understood the need for all the fuss
Prefers to be the first …not part of that ignoble rush
That ignoble rush
It’s liberating …hey!
To be one all the…
9 – RAINBOW’S END
I am a little blue-ish dot
Lost in a sea of grey
The red of streets around me
In a box has gone away
Nothing loads it only spins
And the child-lock keeps me in
The signal flashes green
And then decays
I maybe should have just ignored that little voice inside
You know, the aimless one that counts to 3 then whispers, “Drive”
The one word that was uttered
At the moment that it mattered
I would leave then
Hoping someday I’d arrive (I’d arrive)
I reached out for the shiny button
But it wouldn’t scan
I heard a voice from in the static shouting
About a land
Where the highways form a spiral
And the stories all go viral
For a day that lasts a lifetime
In a frozen block of sand
I am blinking in the night
He is turning to the right
“We will get there in the end”
Reaching for a light
I am sinking in the grey
It is not night
It is not day
“I will take you where you wanted to go”
…And then we drove away
We’re somewhere on the telly
In the middle of a road
The story can’t be finished
‘Cause this picture still won’t load
They say that I’m not breathing
But I simply don’t believe them
And as soon as this is working
I will make him take me home