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Kayo Dot - Coyote CD (album) cover


Kayo Dot



3.86 | 176 ratings

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4 stars Coming from dark quarters

I'm definitely not an expert on avant-chamber music but I've enjoyed Driver's work since Maudlin. I missed the last album and was caught off guard by the direction of this album, I wasn't expecting the shift toward this style. Steeped in pain and darkness (or so it seems), I read that Driver lost a very close friend named Yuko Sueta to cancer during the making of the album, and I think this comes through in the tension on Coyote. Like many Kayo fans I cherish the sound they had on Choirs but I cannot be disappointed with Coyote. We expect Driver to be one of those artists who embody the progressive attitude, to keep moving, which is what he is doing here. We'd rip him if he settled into a comfortable pattern. He comes across as perhaps channeling a modern take on the Velvet Underground mission albeit with less guitar and more freedom. Others have written that this album relates to Henry Cow or Univers Zero.

The pieces flow together into one long work, for me, with amazing violin work by Mia Matsumiya. It meanders along on this harrowing journey, unnerving as hell, yet often quite beautiful in a bleak way, like a stark black/white photograph of something both distressing but intriguing. The strings and brass are rarely melodic but rather repetitive, tense, insistent. Driver's vocals can be a little tough to take but there are plenty of spaces where he drops out in favor of instrumental sections. The more rock oriented sections help provide some variations, when the bass comes in and the drums get violent, or the minimalist guitar in the background asserts itself. ("Abyss Hinge 1" has some downright feisty, abrasive soloing, which sounds like screaming Frippian guitar but according to what others have written is apparently keyboards.) Other parts are shadowed with dissonance or dissolved in keyboards washes, but each piece is thoughtful and evolving, drawing the listener in. I find this stuff very hard to describe with words as it is so seemingly free and without structure, even though I know it is well planned and not simply improvisation. Each listen is just a little bit different and in this sense Coyote is the Kayo experience I expect.

Coyote is not my favorite album of the year but it's so interesting if you happen to be in the right mood for it. It's a musical adventure into the chaotic world around us. It's an album that couldn't give a damn if the prog community enjoys bopping around to it. It exists for its own reasons. You can sit back and soak, or you can curse the thistle-rock. Thistles can hurt like hell but they also have these beautiful purple flowers and they pulse with vibrancy in the most oppressive heat of summer. These plants many consider horrible weeds draw the butterflies to them. (sorry for the pompous analogy) Recommended for anyone who enjoys somewhat "difficult" fare.

Finnforest | 4/5 |


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