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Kayo Dot - Stained Glass CD (album) cover

STAINED GLASS

Kayo Dot

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

3.94 | 41 ratings

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Anthony H.
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Kayo Dot: Stained Glass [2010]

Rating: 8/10

Stained Glass is an EP from American experimental music group Kayo Dot; it is the band's fifth release overall and their second from 2010. Coyote, the group's first release from that year, is an unflinchingly harrowing piece of dark dissonance and gothic melodrama. That album forged a new path for Toby Driver and his band; it took the RIO stylings first introduced on Blue Lambency Downward and pushed in the most extreme direction possible. I consider that album a masterpiece, but I also think that it would have been a grave mistake for Kayo Dot to try anything like it a second time. Thus, Stained Glass impressed me in multiple ways.

This single 20-minute track serves as a perfect complement to the depressive madness that was Coyote. Although this piece is equally experimental and avant-garde, it approaches experimentation in an entirely different way. It is difficult for me to categorize this EP with any sort of generic label. Although Stained Glass is not the strangest piece of work that Toby has ever done, it is the toughest to describe. This momentous composition is a semi-ambient voyage into minimalistic chamber music and shimmering vibraphone-laden jazz. The music lapses in and out of understated vocal passages, minimalistic tuned-percussion odysseys, and warbling electronic soundscapes. All of this is held together by a gorgeous sense of melancholy. While this certainly isn't a happy piece of music, it approaches darkness differently than Coyote did. That album focused on the brutal and gritty elements of sadness; Stained Glass centers on the pretty and poetic aspects of it. The result is a hauntingly beautiful 20 minutes of music.

Stained Glass is a triumphant EP that even further illustrates the depth and diversity of Toby Driver's compositional personality. Parts of this piece are absolutely masterful; the first three minutes constitute some of the greatest music that I have ever heard. Unfortunately, some of the other sections fail to live up to others. Because of this slight inconsistency, I am unable to give this the masterpiece rating that it would have otherwise deserved. Still, this is one of the best and most unique EPs that I have ever heard. Avant-garde aficionados will adore this, and those unacquainted with the style should also be able to find a rewarding experience here.

Anthony H. | 4/5 |

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