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Kayo Dot - Blue Lambency Downward CD (album) cover


Kayo Dot



3.53 | 110 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars With the 2008 offering "Blue Lambency Downward", Kayo Dot reaffirms its status as a major force in the current USA's avant-garde rock scene. While compatriot band Sleepytime Gorilla Museum defined new boundaries and strategies for their particular way to deconstruct rock in their 2007 release "In Glorious Times", Kayo Dot strays more definitely from what we can usually call rock, digging deeper and deeper into the realms of chamber-rock and, also, into most the most abstract corners of what is usually labeled as post-rock. To my ears, this album is an example of experimental modern music that incorporates rock instruments, not an experimental rock album. Fog, mystery and nocturnality: these three qualities pretty much encapsulate the recurrent moods in the album. The departure of 75% of the previous line-up was a metaphor of what the remnant duo of Toby Driver and Mia Matsumiya had in store for all Kayo Dot connoisseurs - an introspective shift in the band's musical direction. The namesake opener brings languid textures with an ethereal, almost mystical vibe, very related to Tortoise and A Silver Mt. Zion, albeit with a more robust sense of tension. 'Clelia Walking' bears a very similar cadence and an enhanced tension: the creepiness created in the climatic passages fits the standards of chamber-rock (the Francophone trend led by Univers Zero and Present). In comparison with the first two pieces, 'Right Hand Is the One I Want' appears more lyrical, which is convenient as an ambience for Driver's melancholic, whispering singing. 'The Sow Summits' brings back the magnificent darkness of chamber-rock, serving as a chaotic prelude to 'The Awkward Wind Wheel'. This one is a definitive highlight of the album, and undoubtedly, the most extroverted piece in the tracklist. The rhythm section's bizarre dynamics, the agile guitar riffing and the magical violin lines elaborate a colorful sonic display that doesn't contradict the overall mysterious aura. The extroverted nature of the aforesaid track is perfectly complemented by the rougher approach delivered in the follower 'The Useless Ladder'. In turn, 'The Useless Ladder' sets the threshold of the closing piece 'Symmetrical Arizona'. Its 10+ time span and well-ordained majesty makes it an excellent closure, as well as the final highlight for the album. The elegant dialogues between violin and clarinet are intersected by soft, jazzy sax washes; then, we find those concise guitar arpeggios subtly adorned by a vibraphone that rains like dewdrops. This piece flows by as if time didn't exist for it: I personally feel like wanting some more once the last clarinet lines have closed the album's door. This is how every album should end, leaving the listener pleased with what they have heard and wishing it lasted a bit more. General balance: "Blue Lambency Downward" is the testimony of a band that has wisely led itself through a reconstruction phase, reformulating its taste for energy and neurosis in a way that had partially been anticipated in the crucial "Dowsing Anemone with Copper Tongue" album. 2 members, 6 or 7. Kayo Dot rules.
Cesar Inca | 4/5 |


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