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Kayo Dot - Dowsing Anemone With Copper Tongue CD (album) cover


Kayo Dot



3.73 | 149 ratings

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Anthony H.
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Kayo Dot: Dowsing Anemone with Copper Tongue [2006]

Rating: 8/10

Dowsing Anemone with Copper Tongue is the enigmatically-titled second album from American experimental music group Kayo Dot. Many people consider this band's debut Choirs of the Eye to be one of the greatest avant-garde rock/metal albums of all time, and I proudly include myself among their ranks. Expectations were high for Toby and company after such a stunning first album, and the possibility of a sophomore slump was distinct and looming. Fortunately, while this follow-up doesn't even come close to the level of its predecessor, it is still an enormous achievement in its own right. Stylistically, the band has not changed much in the three years since Choirs. Rather, they have separated and intensified the extremes of their sound. The contrasting highs and lows present on Choirs are even more apparent here. Where that album was atonal, this album is jarring. Where that album was ambient, this album is minimalistic. Kayo Dot have even further established their status as avant-garde sonic pioneers. This radical experimentalism does not always succeed with flying colors, but when it does, it soars.

"Gemini Becoming the Tripod" may be the most atonal piece of music that Kayo Dot has ever done, which is saying something. It opens with pretty chamber-metal, but it eventually morphs into a brutal post-metal barrage with absolutely jarring vocals. Toby sounds like he's crying, screaming, and getting sick all at the same time. "Immortelle and Paper Caravelle" takes an entirely different approach. This is a gorgeous piece of semi-ambient chamber-rock with wonderful quiet crooning. Toby's vocal approach does an absolute 180 here. "Aura on an Asylum Wall" is one of the most interesting fusions of jazz and metal that I have ever heard. The first half of the track is dedicated to light trumpet soloing that echoes traditional jazz. Everything slowly builds in intensity until the crashing metal conclusion. "__ On Limpid Form" is the most controversial and maligning piece of music Toby Driver has ever been responsible for. This 18-minute monster is often compared to King Crimson's "Moonchild", in that begins with soft unassuming music that eventually transitions into an enormously long abstract instrumental section. I would normally detest this kind of repetitive sludge-metal wankery, but the band actually manages to pull it off well. The manic percussion section at the end is especially awesome. "Amaranth the Peddler" is a lengthy piece of minimalism that may be a bit too plodding for its own good. There are some great moments on this track, but five minutes of it could easily have been trimmed away.

Dowsing Anemone with Copper Tongue is a flawed release, and it certainly isn't the greatest thing that Toby Driver has created. However, there are so many fantastic ideas here that most of the flaws are nullified in their wake. Each of these five compositions is a fascinatingly creative exploration of experimental music. A plethora of sounds are packed into each lengthy piece, but the diversity sounds entirely natural rather than forced or disjointed. Many of the musical perspectives explored here - such as endless minimalism and intentional disjointedness - form some of my least favorite elements of avant-garde music. However, Kayo Dot pulls them off incredibly well. A few ideas are unnecessarily extended, but the majority of them are executed with grace and precision. Dowsing Anemone with Copper Tongue may seem ploddingly disjointed upon first listen, but further examination will reveal the many intricacies of this release. This album is further proof that Toby Driver is one of the greatest avant-garde composers of the 21st century.

Anthony H. | 4/5 |


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