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Kayo Dot - Blue Lambency Downward CD (album) cover

BLUE LAMBENCY DOWNWARD

Kayo Dot

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

3.52 | 86 ratings

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Anthony H.
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Kayo Dot: Blue Lambency Downward [2008]

Rating: 8/10

Blue Lambency Downward is the third album from American avant-rock band Kayo Dot. This album marks a shift from Kayo Dot's first two releases; while Choirs of the Eye and Dowsing Anemone with Copper Tongue were eclectic amalgamations of post-metal, avant-jazz, chamber music and ambient, Blue Lambency Downward features a consistent style throughout. The first and most apparent change here is the elimination of metal from the band's sound. I have always considered Kayo Dot to be an avant-garde group first and foremost; the first two albums' metal influences constituted only a small portion of the overall creation. Blue Lambency Downward shows them eliminating almost all metal in favor of RIO-tinged chamber-rock. Univers Zero would be the most obvious comparison, but Kayo Dot do a lot to distinguish themselves from that legendary Belgian band. Toby Driver's vocals have an enormous presence here, even more so than on previous albums. Toby may not be the greatest singer in terms of technicality, but his voice is almost undeniably passionate and compelling. His vocal strengths brightly shine here.

The title track is one of my favorites from Kayo Dot. Most of it is vocally dominated, and Toby's vocals manage to be both understated and intense. His vocal mantras are hypnotizing, causing the track to seem shorter than it actually is. "Clelia Walking" is an interesting combination of space-rock and chamber music. Toby's vocals and guitar are both ethereal. "Right Hand is the One I Want" features more great vocals. The free-jazzy drumming and discordant violin create a distinct atmosphere. "The Sow Submits" sounds like a lost Univers Zero track due to the disharmonious strings and the crushing rhythm section. "The Awkward Wind Wheel" is an absolutely stunning piece of hard-hitting chamber-rock. The vocal work continues to shine, and the climax is invigorating. "Symmetrical Arizona" is a minimalistic epic that ends the album in a suitably grandiose and emotive manner.

While Blue Lambency Downward is a flawed album that doesn't quite reach the heights of some of Toby Driver's best material, it is still a triumphant piece of modern avant-rock with no shortage of masterful moments. A few sections tend to meander slightly, but most of these moments are promptly corrected. The instrumentation is extraordinarily varied; clarinets, gamelans, vibraphones, and flute all show up without bringing any sense of disorganization to the music. Blue Lambency Downward is a largely transitional album, but this doesn't stop it from being original and captivating. This is not a perfect record by any stretch of the imagination, but it is an excellent release that most avant-garde music aficionados should be able to appreciate.

Anthony H. | 4/5 |

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