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


Kayo Dot



4.25 | 365 ratings

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Symphonic Team
4 stars An exploration of psych prog, Avant metal and deconstructed space rock; a ferocious species that cannot be easily captured

I first encountered this strange beast on a hunting expedition for new prog and once I caught and shot the creature I was at the mercy of this entirely new species. A mixture of aggressive thrashing guitars and ambient atmospherics, you are never quite sure where you are placed with this music. This excursion into psychedelic post metal is ear opening and at times alarmingly beautiful with textures of dark and light.

'Marathon' is a wonderful blend of beauty meets the beast; beauty in the flute playing and beast as in the growling contorted vocals and distorted guitar crashes. At 3:40 there is a freakout of piano grunge guitars, sporadic drumming and woodwind, it is totally and gloriously chaotic. It settles into a weird time sig and guitars ringing out as a chiming sound takes over creating ambient shades. The guitar nuances are compelling on the instrumental passage though it threatens to roar at any moment. The beast is quietened with subtle drumming and soft keyboard bells and guitar embellishments. The atmosphere is peaceful but still has a dark quality for some time. There are some contorted sounds that are disturbing, overlayed in the musicscape. Then a very dull voice speaks some poetic reflections about a woman; "her eyelashes weaken ... and this feels like frogs and spiders in the sweet outside... unfathomable and good, the beauty of everything is cruel... an airplane.. a spoon, the stars and the moon." This is quite a disconcerting track but a great intro to the band's experimental style.

'A Pitcher of Summer' begins quiet and patient with a guitar gently swaying in the breeze. There is no time sig as the vocals come in falsetto style. There are long gaps and odd time changes making it difficult to grasp the melody. Yet there is no ad libbing; this is carefully constructed or rather deconstructed in timed complexity. The music builds to a heavy distortion and some wailing singing. It builds and then falls to silence and cascading sounds of guitar before another cataclysm of distortion drowns out the ambience. The scream of pain at the end is suddenly mercifully cut off.

'The Manifold Curiosity' is the epic of the album and my first Kayo Dot song, after much recommendation from KD listeners. The build up with sonic distortion is brutal. There are some rasping vocals and very grungy guitars, a dirty sound that reverbs like Sunn O))) guitars tuned down to A. The freezing atmospheres are backed by chilling keyboard sounds. At times the lights in the room seem to flicker with the intensity of the music. There are massive passages of instrumental prowess, and these are balanced by short outbursts of distorted vocals phased through a vocoder or effects mixer. The clarinet battles it out with the guitar flourishes, a lonely sax fights its way through the thick fog of electronics and keyboards; this will take you to another realm of music.

'Wayfarer' begins with sad melancholy guitar and violin, the very quiet vocals accompany the sounds with heartfelt emotion. The violins are rather eerie, reminding me of VDGG, Comus or Maudlin of the Well, the band that morphed into Kayo Dot. Violin can be rather screechy if misused but the shimmering notes played here are building unrelenting tension. This tension overflows at 4:14 when the drums come in on a steady beat and a space guitar riff, it builds with ascending violin shrieks and then the time sig is completely changed without warning to a slow droning distorted guitar and very off kilter vocals. The layered music is slowed to an extreme crawl at 5:50 and then silence before a pleasant sounding guitar picks a motif over sustained keyboard pads. The beast becomes dreamy though the threat of violent chaos is prevalent. It feels too comfortable for a time, and you may wonder when the metal will return. The music keeps you on edge and you tend to hang onto every note, waiting for new directions of sound. The violin is louder until the metal guitars crunch in on the climax and a huge lead riff well executed until it just stops and we are back to silence. The haunting vocals are there in the shadows with lurking violins sliced quickly till they cease and the minimalism of guitar and vocals return. Of note is the method in the way Kayo Dot are able to fill songs with silence that are so well juxtaposed, the pauses become an instrument in themselves.

'The Antique' is a heavy exploration of dark aggression and white sonic noise. It begins very slowly with minimalist guitar and many rests and pauses building a sense of dread. I turned the sound down in case it was going to erupt into violence. The music has me on edge after all the chaos of RIO/Avant Prog. It continues painfully quiet for some time but there is an unnerving uneasy atmosphere and then some distortion slowly creeps along like a stalking monster ready to pounce. Some wretched vocals scream along inaudible lyrics to slow metal chords that have no framework and play sporadically. The darkness of the atmosphere is akin to horror, augmented by piano runs and screaming guitar solos with off kilter drum signatures. There is no pattern to the music as it builds to a thrash style, but without a repetitive riff. The whole thing builds climactically and drops to tranquillity as if the monster is asleep and the piano is gently caressing it's hide. The soft vocals are sung too close to the microphone warping them into inaudible moans and falsetto sounds like a flugel horn.

The album ends on a sombre note, quiet and displaced, hypnotically impotent vocals and raw guitars drift off and close the eyes of the album not with a bang but a whimper. Perhaps it was the only direction to take after so much innovation. The sun goes down ready for a new day; a return to the beginning when the beast will wake from its slumber. Adventurous, bold, inventive and complex; it is impossible to pin this music down to one genre though Avant space rock may be close. I was not as overwhelmed as Maudlin of the Well, it is too bleak or dark at times for my tastes, but Kayo Dot are still a force to be reckoned with and demand attention as one of the most ferociously original bands in years.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 4/5 |


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