Cevin Key is best known for his work with Skinny Puppy, who have influenced pretty much EVERYONE in the electro-Industrial scene since they started shocking the masses with their horror movie influenced live shows and radically political lyrics back in the early 80’s, championing causes like animal rights (their very name is meant to conjure the image of what life is like through the eyes of an abused animal), threat of nuclear power, and war crimes. SP’s sound is at times militant, angry, aggressive; others, hopeful and eerily beautiful. Many have attempted to copy their style but few if any have come close to succeeding. Cevin’s branched out far beyond into the realms of techno, IDM, dub and ambient under various names. Everyone who’s anyone in Industrial music wants to work with him, and many have already.
Edward Ka-Spel has a bit more mystique surrounding him. He’s a poet and a troubadour, a true storyteller with 40+ years of live shows and well over a hundred full-length albums under his belt between his solo material and that of his band The Legendary Pink Dots, among other projects. His lyrics are often a bit vague, allowing the listener to follow his lead down whichever path suits them. Other times, characters reappear from previous story lines like familiar old friends. The common bond between them is his intense but at times hushed and mysterious aura and always a heavy dose of psychedelia.
They first came together in the mid-80s when Cevin was hired to run the sound board on tour with Edward. At the time Cevin was based in Vancouver, BC and Edward in Amsterdam. Albums were written on the road and in sessions between tours, and recorded together in the studio with various members of each’s primary bands filling in on instrumental duties, shifting over time. Eight albums were gradually produced without a single live show ever taking place. Their last release, Have A Nice Trip, came in 2009.
Together, they combine all the best of the artsy psychedelic fantasies of the Dots and the dark, twisted landscapes of Skinny Puppy. Edward’s voice is never lost, but it’s at its most restrained in Tear Garden releases. Cevin puts just a perfectly deranged twist on it, and takes us just far enough along on the trip to not get lost quite forever before bringing things back to the main path. Things are always quite bizarre but never meander aimlessly.
Suffice to say, the musical landscape would be very, very different in edgier and more avant-garde musical circles today without these two leaving their fingerprint, with their influence spreading much farther than you’d think at a glance.
Fast forward to 2017. A new album has been written and recorded and is currently being lovingly massaged by the duo and their closest collaborators. More time and resources have been available, not to mention gear and technology, than on previous releases. A pledge drive has raised enough to cover the costs and we’re less than half a year away from release. And most exciting, for the first time there’s real hope of a tour, or at the very least a sprinkling of shows in their respective hometowns (with Cevin now based in the music mecca of Los Angeles). They’ve both circled the globe countless times and now have a foreseeable break from regular touring duties, and fan interest is at a peak, nearly a thousand whom have already pledged well over the goal amount, with funds exceeding the costs of production earmarked for touring. The Tear Garden has never been so vital. And we are ready and waiting.
*A private pre-release album listening party will take place in Glendale, California (Los Angeles) on May 25, 2017, a day after Edward Ka-Spel's LA performace of his new material with Amanda Palmer. Tickets are available through the pre-order link at the pledge drive site.