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


Kayo Dot



4.25 | 361 ratings

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Anthony H.
Prog Reviewer
5 stars Kayo Dot: Choirs of the Eye [2003]

Rating: 10/10

"An airplane, a puppet, an orange, a spoon; a window and outside stars and the moon."

Choirs of the Eye is the debut album from American avant-rock group Kayo Dot. Composer and multi-instrumentalist Toby Driver has been making a strong name for himself within the progressive/experimental music scene since the formation of his first band, Maudlin of the Well, in 1996. Maudlin's uniquely multifaceted take on avant-garde metal has given them quite a reputation within the prog world. However, this reputation was largely retroactive. Kayo Dot was formed from the ashes of Maudlin of the Well. Although Toby Driver sees this album as a natural progression from Maudlin, the stylistic gap between the two bands is difficult to deny. I'm not going to pontificate about the differences between the two groups - such would be a useless exercise - but it is abundantly clear that Toby's compositional vision has come into full fruition on this release.

Music like this does not easily lend itself to linguistic description. Beyond "avant-garde", it is near-impossible to attach any sort of generic label to Choirs of the Eye. There are elements of post metal, chamber music, sludge metal, avant-jazz, and post rock here, but none of those genres fittingly describe the music as a whole. Contrast and juxtaposition are the main compositional philosophies at play here; massive bombastic crescendos are contrasted with brooding ambience and minimalism to create a consistently fascinating pearl of musical experimentation. The incredible music is made even better by Jason Byron's daunting lyrics. This is some of the most beautiful poetry that I have ever encountered in music.

The absolutely majestic "Marathon" opens the album with ferocious crescendos and heavy guitars that quickly transition into quiet chamber music. The entire piece is centered on climactic juxtaposition of intense sound blasts and quiet brooding ambience. "A Pitcher of Summer" is the shortest song on the album, but it features just as much power and beauty as its four companions. Toby's vocals are the main focus here; he ranges from quiet crooning to emotive wailing, often without warning. This is a hauntingly gorgeous track with some of the best lyrics I've ever seen in rock music. "The Manifold Curiosity" is one of the greatest musical compositions of the 21st century. Such a statement seems difficult to accept without a scoff, but I can assure you that it is made free of hyperbole. This is an absolutely perfect 14 minutes of music. I can't aptly summarize everything that goes on during this piece without taking up pages of text. Suffice to say, this is one of the most moving pieces of brilliant music that I have ever heard. "Wayfarer" is the mellowest track on the album, although it still has its fair share of heavy bombast. Toby's vocals are in prime form here. "The Antique" is a 14-minute epic of atmospheric sludge-metal and ambient chamber-jazz. The last five minutes of this piece end the album in a suitably powerful and emotional manner.

Choirs of the Eye is a musical triumph is every sense of the term. Few albums exhibit this level of creativity, intricacy, and emotional weight. Each listen yields something new to appreciate; I've owned the album for nearly two years and I still have not come to completely understand it. These five compositions are emotional roller coasters that leave me in a different state of mind after experiencing them. The album as a whole is an unforgettable experience. It's atmospheric, it's dense, it's complex, it's majestic, it's beautiful, it's perfect. Choirs of the Eye is an essential masterpiece.

Farewell, starry wayfarer.

Anthony H. | 5/5 |


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