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

CHOIRS OF THE EYE

Kayo Dot

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

4.26 | 277 ratings

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Pnoom!
5 stars Rating: A+ (10.0)

There are always people willing to, at whatever point, give up on music, saying there's nothing new to be done. Thankfully, they are wrong, gloriously, rapturously wrong. To such people, a band like Kayo Dot must come as a real slap in the face, such is the depth of their innovation. Whereas Toby Driver's previous band, Maudlin of the Well, had made waves for their mix of post-rock and death metal, finding a niche that was neither post-rock nor death metal, nor even post-metal, but something that lay somewhere between the three, Kayo Dot is making waves for loose songs that are nevertheless very compositionally tight. They mix jazz, metal, classical, post-rock, and avant-garde (and more, I'm sure) effortlessly into a single mixture that doesn't really sound like any of them.

So what does it sound like? Well, it sounds like beauty. At least, it does on Choirs of the Eye (Dowsing Anemone With Copper Tongue is a far uglier CD, though still beautiful in its own right). It's hard to put into words what I mean by "it sounds like beauty" - all I can really say is everything on the CD, whatever musical style it may encompass, seems to be working towards the goal of creating beauty. Suffice it to say, it succeeds. Flawlessly. While not necessarily always conventionally beautiful, even the heaviest moments are beautiful (such as the closing thirty seconds of "The Manifold Curiousity," which is an abstractly heavy and dirty metal riff). Then, of course, there are the conventionally beautiful moments, such as the opening four minutes of both "The Manifold Curiosity" and "Wayfarer," which make my jaw drop every time. There's really nothing quite like them (bringing us back around to the point that Kayo Dot are true innovators in the modern musical landscape).

Despite the abstract nature of my description of Kayo Dot's sound, there are some recognizable aspects that should help the listener wrap his (or her) mind around this monumental CD. While the actual genres played vary, most of the songs can somewhat be associated to post-rock in that they build to one or more climaxes over their (generally long) durations. Take, for example, "The Manifold Curiosity" (my favorite from Choirs of the Eye), which starts out softly, builds a ways, then seems to let up before finally exploding in a mind-boggling climax where it seems that everything happens at once and yet does not sound cluttered in the slightest. After that, it's time to work our way back up to the closing riff, which truly puts the final touch on what was already a masterpiece of a song. Of course, the songs are not formulaic; "Marathon" actually opens the CD loudly, then slowly deconstructs until we are left only with a spoken poem. "The Antique," the most consistently heavy on the CD, spends seven minutes building to a climax, then spends the remaining time winding down Choirs of the Eye, taking it out on a calm, relaxing, and - you guess it - beautiful note.

All that's left to discuss is the often-overlooked "A Pitcher of Summer." Clocking in at just under six minutes, it's barely half as a long as the next shortest track, but it packs just as much of a punch as its four compatriots. With its beautiful (in the traditional sense) beginning, it slowly builds tension, then resolves it with the heavy but still traditionally beautiful close. Despite its length, it is not a conventional song; it is a full composition like the rest of the tracks. And, now that I've started going into detail about individual tracks, I cannot help but discuss the absolute masterpiece that is "The Manifold Curiosity." A piece like this comes about once in a lifetime. With soft acoustic guitar, swirling electronics, crazed vocals (especially at the end), and piercing violin, "The Manifold Curiosity" might well be my single favorite piece of music.

And, on that note, it must be said that Choirs of the Eye might well be my single favorite CD, at least for now. Whether it is or not, it is definitely many things. It is a masterpiece, it is the greatest CD of 2003, and it is absolutely flawless. Not many CDs can truly be called flawless, and most masterpieces have slight flaws at the very least, but not Choirs of the Eye. It is incredible from start to finish. While it may take a few months to "get" (as it did for me), once it clicks, it should quickly become a favorite, as it has for me. Essential by every criterion.

Pnoom! | 5/5 |

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