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Kayo Dot - Choirs Of The Eye CD (album) cover

CHOIRS OF THE EYE

Kayo Dot

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

4.27 | 285 ratings

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Finnforest
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Like the sound you hear before the plane crashes.

Like floating through a dark thunderstorm cloud, or surfing waves of grey ash. Pure hell. Pure beauty. I've read reviews calling this noisy, aimless drudgery. I've read reviews calling it absolutely sonic beauty. Yes. And Yes.

"Choirs of the Eye" is an album to experience after years of more conventional listening when you really crave something unique and different. The next step of Toby Driver's evolution (after Maudlin of the Well) Kayo is so many things and must be allowed many plays over a period of months to be absorbed properly. It will require patience and perseverance for some. It is at times harsh, abrasive, obnoxious, and disturbing. Other times it is distant, calm, and meditative. I need to be in a certain mood to enjoy listening to it but when I am, it is exhilarating.

"Marathon" We begin with something that sounds more like avant space rock than metal with our grey ambient landscape being laid out before us. Occasionally we are hit with the sound sledge hammer, the wall of distorted guitars and other instruments which Driver uses with complete effectiveness. This song is almost preparation work for the journey that will soon follow. The majority of the track is calming as he tries to get you to open your mind and really listen, though the threat of the aural violence is never far away. Electronics and spoken words augment the hypnotic cloud and by the end you are ready for the roller coaster to follow.

"A Pitcher of Summer" The shortest track begins just like an old Cat Power song with a fragile lilting vocal against clean guitar in search of a melody. The bus eventually hits us as we're crushed by the big guitars and brass and the vocal builds to a desperate end scream.

"The Manifold Curiosity" Layered electric guitars see-saw back and forth in conversation with a clarinet in the lovely first section. Then an acoustic begins strumming with mumbled vocals and spacey electronics in the background. It builds until the perfect moment when a hint of feedback signals the wave crashing down again into a wall of distortion. Eventually you can hear the Sax trying to swim through the rough waters. And all of this in just the first half! The second half begins with moody guitar that recalls Durutti Column. Strange spoken word voices come in along with gorgeous violin floating to the fore. Finally all succumb again to a most furious climax.

"Wayfarer" Gentle acoustic guitar and strings begin to pull you under the water until Driver's naked falsetto begins around 2 minutes in. Around 4 minutes there is a crescendo and things get very chaotic and loud briefly. It ends as it began with the simple acoustic.

"The Antique" Discordant alien guitar chords strummed casually for a few minutes until bass and drums step in. Slowly the chords begin to find form as they crawl out of the shadows and gain power. Growls and screams. Soundtrack of a nightmare. Finally a guitar solo tries and fails to cut through. Then, near the 10 minute mark the clouds part and the sun (piano) breaks through. A stoic trumpet appears. Fragile, unpleasant vocalizations lead to a rather unremarkable ending. But I agree with OpethGuitarist that this track and TMC are the two masterpiece songs and together they encompass more than half the album.

Love or hate Driver's vision, "Choirs" is another triumph for the adventurous listener. Just don't judge this album until you've spun it at least a dozen times in different situations. It requires thought and consideration. It is not entertainment fluff to bob your head to, it is music that wants to challenge you and change your perceptions.

Finnforest | 4/5 |

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