Dark forces are at work on Edward Ka-Spel’s Dream Logik. The cover art, featuring an icon of a disemboweled skeleton-Christ side-by-side with a pair of vulva-headed storks, promises a healthy dose of Satanism, and happily, the music does not disappoint. The opening track features a dialogue between a backwards-talking Ka-Spel, a nod to the rituals of the Black Mass, and a squeaky voice I presume to be some kind of demon. In track two, (crunching into the Satanism-proper), Ka-Spel chants an honorific ode to “The Harvester”, his royal highness in whose shadow we all are crawling. Under the unholy chanting, a distorted industrial break-beat worms its way through masked sounds of screaming and spine-chilling abattoir sound effects. A couple of minutes before the end, the track completely breaks down into a jarring synth solo that sounds a little like Sun Ra, if Sun Ra’s synths had spat teeth and blood and not day-glo alien photons.
This is no Marilyn Manson-style toy Satanism. By the end of “The Harvester” you are beginning to wonder whether Ka-Spel’s music might not actually be really evil. But Dream Logik is not completely dominated by The Serpenty One. Sometimes Ka-Spel’s voice turns away from its master, focusing instead on its own raving lunacy. On “Good Life” for instance, we are sung a song about terrifying hallucinations resulting from sleep-derivation – “I can’t see the bed for the snakes, I can’t see the door for the shapes… I’m just too tired to sleep”. The voice has a fragile naivety to it and sings a simple broken chord figure, suggesting powerlessness and innocence at the mercy of dark manipulating forces. On “And The Stars” too, Ka-Spel’s voice projects an exhausted tenderness as it tells a tale of a bizarre, unrequited love. He has waited too long, he says, in a corner of a forgotten universe, for his love to come, but (s)he/it never comes. It's time for him to walk into the light, for “Life must go on”.
Mysterious symbols abound. The flag at half-mast, a blind man, walking into the light; it is possible to offer up interpretations of the symbolism here, but its effect is not that of an interpretable symbolic puzzle. Rather, the symbols seem plucked from a Swedenborgian system of universal analogies, and their presence here is not to encode information but to signify this realm itself. In the manner of a spell, Ka-Spel mystifies us into communion with this world of unknowable, eternal rules of meaning.
Dream Logik unfolds according to the logic of dreams, of which the mystic symbolism is a part, and by which nothing is what it seems. As the powerful voice that confidently eulogised “The Harvester” becomes the fragile, isolated voice in the grip of madness, we are left wondering whom we are listening to. Whether there are external forces torturing the poor soul on “Good Life,” or whether the voice, tortured internally, is the victim of possession. On the final (and weirdest) track of the album “Revolution 834”, the squeaking demon voice from the opening is unraveled to reveal Ka-Spel’s own, enforcing the idea that the diabolical inhabitants of Dream Logik have their origins in his own mind. As in dreams, characters shift from one into another, whilst they are all also born in the mind of the dreamer.
It is an extraordinary listen. But this is not to say that it is all enjoyable. Tracks “Backyard” and “The 9 O’Clock Train To Oblivion” are extended hypnotic, industrial jams that frankly test the limits of patience. However, the trick is not to listen to them as such, but to appreciate their role in the ritual. They are functional ceremonies, there to effect a state of consciousness so to facilitate the entry of the Dark One. Or at least to make us susceptible to Ka-Spel’s unique form of black magic. Dream Logik is what Aleister Crowley would have sounded like had he discovered synths and drum machines. A warped, psychedelic spell-book for dangerously curious souls.