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Kayo Dot - Plastic House On Base Of Sky CD (album) cover

PLASTIC HOUSE ON BASE OF SKY

Kayo Dot

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

3.87 | 94 ratings

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BrufordFreak
5 stars My first listen to any Toby Driver music project is always so darn humbling. Every time. And Plastic House on Base of Sky is definitely no exception to this pattern. Surprise, shock and awe are invariables in my range of responses. Toby does things with sound, with music, that are beyond any conceptual imaginings that I could ever have for the scope and bounds of musical expression--and I think I have a pretty good imagination! I can honestly say that every single Kayo Dot album has caught me totally unprepared. I'm never sure whether or not I really like the music I'm hearing but I am ALWAYS floored and awed by it. Creative genius. Expanding the horizons of musical possibilities like nobody else in the 21st Century. Taking ten steps further into the realm of techno-electronic music than they did on 2014's Cofffins on Io, Toby Driver and company have once again put forth a challenge to all lovers of progressive rock and progressive music: Is this good? Is this progress? Is this prog? I can hear the arguments from both sides lasting for years to come. I, for one, like the constant unpredictability of Toby and the projects, themes, and musical directions he has chosen. To my mind, he is one of the very few truly "progressive" artists in the music industry today.

1. "Amalia's Theme" (7:33) is an amazing song of layers upon layers of--as if five different songs are all playing together as one--each "song" playing in their own channels (tracks), oblivious to one another, and yet the blend, the weave, works as a cohesive single song. This is so difficult to describe. This is techno pop taken to the next level, 70s BOWIE or 80s DEPECHE MODE elevated to meaningful sophistication. Awesome melodies, awesome effects, awesome instrumental weave, awesome synth solos, topped off by one of my favorite vocals from Toby. One of my favorite songs of the year! (10/10)

2. "All The Pain in All the Wide World" (10:09) Cool sounds can't save the discordant disconnect between music, melody and lyric on this one. Perhaps it is intentionally done, but it makes for a very difficult listening experience when one feels pulled apart in three and sometimes four or five directions all at the same time. Again, this may have been the desired effect KD had here, but I find it more than I choose to take. Perhaps it'll grow on me. (7/10)

3. "Magnetism" (7:29) DEPCHE MODE 30 years later! Even the vocal sound is stylized remarkably like that of DAVE GAHAN. No more need be said! (9/10)

4. "Rings of Earth" (8:40) opens with some synthesized drum sequence and multiple layers of synths before Toby's treated voice--mixed slightly back of front and center--enters. At 1:10 the music shifts a bit and Toby's voice comes slightly forward. This is so like early SIMPLE MINDS! Especially the rhythm programming. ("Promised You a Miracle" comes to mind.) The next shift in the third minute is pretty cool--multiple synths doing multiple things while a gradually increasing multiplicity of Tobys shout out, "Rings of Earth."* Then things return back to the second part before a ROBERT FRIPP-like heavily distorted guitar solo begins. The vocals become really cool with multiple voices layering and even harmonizing. Another outstanding song--perhaps more favored than "Amalia's Theme"! (10/10)

5. "Brittle Urchin" (4:32) opens with a heavily treated midi-bass skulking slowly over some distant background synth chords. A minute in, Toby's voice--in a fairly clear mix--leaps out at us with some more synths and slowly strummed guitar chords also present themselves very forward in the mix. At 2:30 drums and heavy bass chords join in. Toby continues singing in this pretty, mellifluous voice. It sounds like a PETER GABRIEL song! This is actually a very pretty, sedate song for TD! And a very pleasant end to an album. (10/10)

Another five star masterpiece of progressive rock music. This is rather premature, but I have a feeling that this is going to end up being my favorite TD album of all-time--even above my beloved three maudlin of The Well albums released since Y2K. Thank you, Toby, for never getting stuck in a rut, for being ever-lured to explore new pathways, for going beyond where anyone has ever gone before, for feeling that you always have to test yourself (against yourself)!

BrufordFreak | 5/5 |

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