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Kayo Dot - Gamma Knife CD (album) cover

GAMMA KNIFE

Kayo Dot

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

3.59 | 67 ratings

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AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
3 stars Start the year off right with a listen to a dissonant avant-metal-jazz explosion.

Kayo Dot's recent album "Gamma Knife" is the first 2012 album I listened to and began the year on a discordant note. It is no secret to those who know me that I am no fan of the darker side of prog and the bleak "Coyote" was more of an endurance test for me. I will admit that I approached this latest Toby Driver offering with a degree of trepidation. The opening track of chamber music had me spellbound immediately. Once the bells begin to toll and the hymnal Gregorian style chanting is over on 'Lethe', a dissonant collage of guitar crashes breaks the serenity. A death metal growl invades the doomy atmosphere surprisingly. The off kilter saxophone is an intriguing embellishment and a cacophony of sound results. This continues for some time generating a darkened soundscape. Then blastbeats and anguished cries follow, almost sounding like Emperor or other Norwegian black metal. This is the 'Rite of Goetic Evocation' and it may surprise many listeners, as it is a very atonal cacophonous sound that is jarring on the ear.

Next is a jazzy piece that sounds like a bunch of saxophones having an affray. The competing instruments are drawn together by Driver's estranged vocals. Interestingly enough this track sounds like Van der Graaf Generator music when they play the inharmonious improvised sections of songs such as on "Pawn Hearts". There is a thankful break in the song and the time sig diverges into unknown territory on 'Mirror Water, Lightning Night'. I am becoming hooked by the saxophone as lead instrument at this point. It becomes quite a noise in places, none of the instruments attempting to stay into any particular time metrical pattern. The result is a sound of intimidating ferocity, perhaps the angriest album I have heard in some time.

It almost transforms into death metal jazz on the unnerving 'Ocellated God'. Growling screechy vocals and insane manic woodwind clash together and at one point the tempo quickens until there is a repeated 3 note motif that once again is very much like VDGG. The growls become intense and the hyper percussion and dissonant woodwind sound as if the band are having a multiple progressive disorder, perhaps a musical breakdown. The music goes all over the place and intensely frenzied as Driver screams unintelligible cries. It is almost humorous such is the vehemence of the instruments. This may be what it sounds like when an orchestra is having a bad day.

Finally it ends with 'Gamma Knife' with very gentle guitar and Driver is at peace on calming vocals having had his tantrum previously. The tessellated fractured keyboard phrases are quite beautiful. There is a sound like a harp flowing up and down the scales and arpeggios. Driver's voice becomes more penetrating with a style similar to that on "Coyote". It is the best track on the album apart from the opening. It is strange how this beauty is bookended with all the rage sandwiched in between.

My conclusion is this will appeal to the Toby Driver and Kayo Dot fanbase, no doubt but the rest of us must tread cautiously as we approach this uncanny music.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 3/5 |

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