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RIO/Avant-Prog • United States

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Kayo Dot biography
Founded in Brooklyn, NYC, USA in 2003 - Still active as of 2017

Kayo Dot is a New York based avant-garde rock and experimental metal group which formed in 2003 after several members left Toby Driver's previous project, Maudlin of the Well. Kayo Dot has been subject to several line-up changes, although the constant members are Toby Driver on bass, lead vocals, guitar, clarinet and keyboards, and Mia Matsumiya on violin, viola and vocals.

The band released their debut composition, 'Choirs Of The Eye', on John Zorn's label Tzadik in 2003. This album captures atmospheric metal with avant-garde overtones with an evocative and sincerely experimental approach. 'Choirs Of The Eye' continues the combination of metal and atmospheric compositions which maudlin of the Well are known for, and is a good entry point for new listeners.

The band's 2006 follow up, 'Dowsing Anemone With Copper Tongue', combines a more avant and less metal overall sound, and features over an hour of guitar based compositions with less frontal vocals and a higher emphasis on atmospheric textures and avant-garde playing.

In 2008, they released their third LP, 'Blue Lambency Downwards', which features several shorter compositions bookended by two ten minute pieces. This album is the least metal of their output, and is made up mostly of drum textures combined with string sections and clarinet playing. The connection of metal within a typical sense is gone from the band's sound, replaced by an occasionally aggressive and consistently freeform sound.

Kayo Dot's overall sound has become less metal based since their formation, and it is advisable that metal fans start with their debut. Kayo Dot is recommended to listeners of avant-rock, experimental and atmospheric music, fans of maudlin of the Well and anyone interested in a unique combination of metal and experimental textures.

The current line-up consists of Toby Driver, Mia Matsumiya, Terran Olson, David Bodie and Daniel Means, who all play several instruments.

'.With Kayo Dot I try to constantly discover new ways of being "heavy" and "dark" without resorting to the same old cheap tricks that so many other "heavy" and "dark" bands rely on. In that case, we are the most metal band...
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Choirs of the EyeChoirs of the Eye
$6.99 (used)
Plastic House on Base of SkyPlastic House on Base of Sky
The Flenser 2016
$8.71 (used)
Flenser 2017
$11.69 (used)
Coffins on IoCoffins on Io
Flenser 2014
$9.63 (used)
Gamma KnifeGamma Knife
Antithetic 2012
$17.94 (used)
Dowsing Anemone with Copper TongueDowsing Anemone with Copper Tongue
Robotic Empire 2006
$3.29 (used)
Hydra Head Records 2010
$10.86 (used)
Blue Lambency DownwardBlue Lambency Downward
Hydra Head Records 2008
$7.49 (used)
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KAYO DOT discography

Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help to complete the discography and add albums

KAYO DOT top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.24 | 371 ratings
Choirs Of The Eye
3.71 | 170 ratings
Dowsing Anemone With Copper Tongue
3.53 | 108 ratings
Blue Lambency Downward
3.86 | 176 ratings
3.59 | 67 ratings
Gamma Knife
3.92 | 115 ratings
3.84 | 88 ratings
Coffins On Io
3.86 | 103 ratings
Plastic House On Base Of Sky

KAYO DOT Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.70 | 10 ratings
Live In Bonn
4.00 | 9 ratings

KAYO DOT Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

KAYO DOT Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

KAYO DOT Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.08 | 20 ratings
Kayo Dot / Bloody Panda Split
3.96 | 53 ratings
Stained Glass

KAYO DOT Reviews

Showing last 10 reviews only
 Coffins On Io by KAYO DOT album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.84 | 88 ratings

Coffins On Io
Kayo Dot RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Possibly the most accessible Kayo Dot album of them all, with some sections of the selections here almost sounding like comparatively conventional gothic-leaning alternative rock given an eccentric production treatment. As usual, I find Kayo Dot's approach rather hit and miss, and whilst I appreciate the extra clarity they have attained by allowing themselves to prune back their sound and resist the temptation to turn the experimentalism up to 11 all the time, at the same time that selfsame clarity doesn't reveal much to write home about, at least to my ears. I never feel like I can mark Kayo Dot too far down, because they're always technically proficient, but I do think the album is enough of a love-it-or-hate-it deal that I can't honestly rate it as highly as Hubardo.
 Plastic House On Base Of Sky by KAYO DOT album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.86 | 103 ratings

Plastic House On Base Of Sky
Kayo Dot RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

4 stars 'Plastic House on Base of Sky - Kayo Dot (72/100)

Roger Ebert once wrote of the wonderful director Werner Herzog that he had never created a single uninteresting film: "Even his failures are spectacular." There are a few select bands that bring that quote to mind for me. Kayo Dot's always been one of them. I have less fingers on my left hand than bands I'd say I admire as much; even if every album hasn't hit me with the same awe, it's never been because Toby Driver and company have ever lacked for talent nor inspiration. Is there another band that's been so dedicated on reinvention? Ulver comes to mind, but even then, I don't think their leaps were always so consistently wide. Kayo Dot has fashioned immortal music from metal to drone, darkwave and beyond, but knowing that they'll always move forward makes a new KD album more promising than most.

Coffins on Io from 2014 was a predictably unpredictable turn into 1980s Goth and darkwave from a band that had created an avant-metal masterpiece with Hubardo the year before. The 80s synth fetishism didn't start on Coffins, but it was the first place where the move characterized the atmosphere. In that sense, Plastic House on Base of Sky takes less of a risk than some of Kayo Dot's past transitions. The atmosphere is unmistakably based in the retrofuturist nostalgia of the 1980s; the dark brooding synths draw from the same well as the Stranger Things soundtrack from last year, and the lo-fi but busy drum programming sounds equally as nostalgic.

Vague threads of Coffins' aesthetic have carried over to Plastic House; the new album sets itself apart in other ways instead. While Coffins on Io was thick and bassy, here Kayo Dot have gone relatively light and airy with the style and production. I don't really agree with the notion that these changes have necessarily made the music more accessible. "All the Pain in All the Wide World" is as cacophonous as anything on the earlier album, and it's arguable that they've gone even deeper into atmosphere than before. For all their nostalgic charm, the synth arrangements are cumbersome, usually busy enough to flush out most melodic hooks on the first couple spins. The most immediate track isn't "Amalia's Theme" but "Brittle Urchin", surprisingly. With fewer synth textures to wash out the mix, Toby's vocals finally get a better chance to shine through.

Even if Plastic House on Base of Sky is actually one of the less immediate albums Kayo Dot have put out, I think there is something to the way some listeners have been interpreting this new evolution as a lighter, poppy alternative to Coffins on Io. There probably is a pop musical skeleton laying here, but the atmospheric arrangement drowns it out. I don't think that's a bad or a good thing, really; "Amalia's Theme" and "Brittle Urchin" are brilliantly written enough to have succeeded as standalone unplugged pieces, while "All the Pain in All the Wide World" would probably feel just as overloaded with any approach. The hazy, ethereal vibe is what gives Plastic House its character ultimately; for better or worse, Kayo Dot committed themselves to a specific artistic niche and fleshed an album out of it.

Originally written for Heathen Harvest Periodical

 Hubardo by KAYO DOT album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.92 | 115 ratings

Kayo Dot RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Hm, this is odd. After the acclaimed Choirs of the Eye and the work of predecessor band maudlin of the Well left me cold, I'd largely ignored Kayo Dot as being a group who, whilst clearly competent, weren't quite to my taste. However, on giving them a second chance on Hubardo I find that either they have changed, or I have changed; this time, their combination of avant-metal and quieter moments works somewhat better for me. Perhaps this is because both sides seem to have been honed to something a bit more cohesive and targeted, the metal portions putting me in mind of a black metal band who's listened to too much Sunn O))) and Blut Aus Nord, and the quieter bits rumble about in the sort of space between post-rock and goth that Swans sometimes visits. Either way, finally Kayo Dot have captured my attention and I will be interested in exploring more of their stuff in future.
 Plastic House On Base Of Sky by KAYO DOT album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.86 | 103 ratings

Plastic House On Base Of Sky
Kayo Dot RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by jazz2896

5 stars Toby Driver delivers again. This album's promotional material stated that "Kayo Dot never makes the same album twice", and while this is largely true, this is definitely the most similar two albums in a row have been. This definitely is not a bad thing in this case. Coffins on Io, while fantastic, had a tendency to drag for these ears, where many tracks seemed to be built off of repetition over the usual compositional depth that Driver is known for. Now for this album, sonically it is very similar. There is still a heavy reliance of analog synthesizers, even more so than the past album, but this time, it is coupled with the depth and complexity of composition that was missing from the past album. The album is still filled with the catchy 80's crooner lines from Driver's "David Sylvian" voice, but this time the music further separates him from his influences, creating a way more original sound. In fact, after multiple listens, I found myself actually humming some parts (especially Amalia's Theme and Rings of Earth). With this album, Driver struck the perfect balance between accessibility and sheer experimentalism, for even though there are parts you can hum to, there are equally as many parts that I still have no idea what's going on, but in a good way. Coffins on Io was definitely the foundation, but this album has fully solidified Driver's newfound obsession with the 80's as artistically viable. One of my favorites of this year so far, I can't give it any less than 5 stars, not a single low point to these ears.
 Plastic House On Base Of Sky by KAYO DOT album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.86 | 103 ratings

Plastic House On Base Of Sky
Kayo Dot RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by LakeGlade12

5 stars 4.9 Stars. All the synths in all the wide world

Kayo Dot are one of those few bands that you can never tell what they are going to do next. The only true connection between PHOBOS and the rest of their discovery is the desire to combine genres and styles to create something very unique and Avant-garde. PHOBOS uses many of the same building blocks as their previous album Coffins did i.e strong 80s synths, a heavy focus on rhythm and enough repetition in their songs to be highly rememerable. However unlike its predecessor the musical density is not only high, but though the roof in terms of complex layers which are pretty overwhelming on the first listen.

The main focus on this album is ultra-complex rhythms and a huge depth of musical layers, most of them synth and drum based. 4 of the 5 songs follow a similar pattern, where you are swamped with bright and flashy synths that keep going at a medium-fast pace and refuse to let you rest. It's only the final track that takes a darker and somber turn where you get some reprieve and a change in direction. Despite the similarity of the first 4 songs each one has a very unique and distinctive personality, with some being energy pumping rock and others deep voltages into the avant-garde world. PHOBOS is also a concept album, telling the story of the oracle Amalia set in a futuristic world. The first 4 songs deal with drugs, murder, prostitution and satellite observation/spying respectively, with the final track having a bleak doomsday direction for the world the band created.

"Amalia's Theme" starts the album off with the main rhythm for this song and gradually adds layers which is followed by Toby's "Bowie" vocals. The track weaves between different themes here and there, creating a labyrinth of complex rhythms and sounds. When I listened to this song the first time it was so overwhelming and uncomfortable to my ears that it was almost nauseating. It took many repeated listens to slowly adapt to what was being presented. But the breaking point into getting me to enjoy this was the subtle but infectious hooks that are hidden in the song and leave you humming the main musical themes afterwards. This is the most technical of the 5 tracks and has the greatest amount of changes in direction.

"All The Pain in All the Wide World" ranks as one of the most challenging, adventurous and brilliant songs the band has ever composed. The first 4 minutes are actually very melodic and instantly beautiful, which is a rarity for this album. This part has a synth-pop feel to it that gradually increases in intensity up to the 4 min mark.

However after 4 min the track becomes increasingly chaotic and anxious, with Toby chanting "I'm only talking, talking, but you're not listening" over and over. This seems to be a political remark about big governments and companies not paying attention to the poor, and others in general which results in mass confusion and misunderstanding. The song then descends into what appears to be absolute chaos. Toby is ranting incoherent vocals everywhere and the music has also gone completely wild. However despite this the music and vocals balance themselves to create a uniform level of weirdness and chaos that can only occur through a high level of composition hidden within it. The sound created here is so unique and out there that only listening to it will do any explanations justice. They then drag the track gradually to some sort of order before things end abruptly.

"All the Pain" is mindblowing in every sense of the world. In all my years of listening to Prog I have never heard such a intense unison of order and chaos. I'm still coming to terms with the magnitude of this song and how it has opened the floodgates of a new way to compose music. It has to rank as one of the greatest songs I have ever heard in my life and makes the album an essential listen in its own right (although everything else on PHOBOS is also brilliant).

"Magnetism" is the most instantly gratifying track on the album. Very strong and memorable rhythms and a much greater focus on the electric guitar means that this track rocks really well. There is a masterful build up in intensity and drama which erupts into a flowing 2 min of pure power and euphoria right at the end of the song. The drumming on this track is particularly inspired here and what gives the track its strength. This is my second favourite song on PHOBOS and it was a excellent choice to release this track first in order to get buyers.

"Rings of Earth" is a song of two halfs. The first uses extra 80s "spacy" synths that are bright and almost cheerful. Toby has some incredibly catchy vocals which combined with the synths gives a strong pop feel, if it were not for the subtle layers of texture in the background. There is a gritty guitar in the background which is gradually brought into the foreground as the second half of the song starts. Here there is a major contrast in mood where all the positivity is lost and you are surrounded by oppressive synths and distorted guitars. Almost as if to say how the positive intentions of the satellites have now backfired and are now a force for evil and manipulation. The song finishes with a wall of distortion and Toby's deep, doom-laden singing.

"Brittle Urchin" carries on this bleakness with 40 seconds of a single, deep layer of synth. This darkness and extreme musical simplicity is in stark contrast to the rest of the album, as if all the bright futuristic toys are gone and only hard reality remains. A simple bass line along with Toby's vocals enters and we are treated with the classic KD sound of old like that found on "Cartogram out of phase", "A pitcher of summer" etc. This "bass + wavering vocals" is ended with the return of synths, drums and guitars but this time the atmosphere is pure negativity and despair instead of flashiness. The song cuts off dramatically at the end and the album finishes almost instantly.

At the moment PHOBOS ranks as my third favourite KD album and is only slightly below the No 2 spot. However when you consider that my top KD record ("Choirs") is a top 2 album of all time and the other ("Hubardo") is a top 10 then you know that I think PHOBOS ranks with the best of the best. This album has everything you could ask of it. It has insane complexity and endless layers that requires many many listens to fully explore what is going on, let alone to get your head around the album and begin enjoying it! However despite this each song has a key strong hook that holds everything together and acts as the gateway into loving each track. Finally it has the originality, by taking 80s sounds and musical principles that no Prog band would dare touch and doing something completely different with it. It even has a excellent concept and lyrics that despite the futuristic feel and occult overtones is becoming increasingly relevant as we get well into the 21st century.

In summary PHOBOS is a virtually perfect record that needs to be heard by every forward-thinking Prog lover. It also must be listened to many times as it is very hard to get into initially. A good speaker or headphones is needed to hear every layer that is going on, as without the proper equipment for listening the music suffers immensely. Kayo Dot have now firmly taken the crown as the most progressive Prog act in the 21 century, and since the 70s if we are being honest. 100% essential music.

 Plastic House On Base Of Sky by KAYO DOT album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.86 | 103 ratings

Plastic House On Base Of Sky
Kayo Dot RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars My first listen to any Toby Driver music project is always so darn humbling. Every time. And Plastic House on Base of Sky is definitely no exception to this pattern. Surprise, shock and awe are invariables in my range of responses. Toby does things with sound, with music, that are beyond any conceptual imaginings that I could ever have for the scope and bounds of musical expression--and I think I have a pretty good imagination! I can honestly say that every single Kayo Dot album has caught me totally unprepared. I'm never sure whether or not I really like the music I'm hearing but I am ALWAYS floored and awed by it. Creative genius. Expanding the horizons of musical possibilities like nobody else in the 21st Century. Taking ten steps further into the realm of techno-electronic music than they did on 2014's Cofffins on Io, Toby Driver and company have once again put forth a challenge to all lovers of progressive rock and progressive music: Is this good? Is this progress? Is this prog? I can hear the arguments from both sides lasting for years to come. I, for one, like the constant unpredictability of Toby and the projects, themes, and musical directions he has chosen. To my mind, he is one of the very few truly "progressive" artists in the music industry today.

1. "Amalia's Theme" (7:33) is an amazing song of layers upon layers of--as if five different songs are all playing together as one--each "song" playing in their own channels (tracks), oblivious to one another, and yet the blend, the weave, works as a cohesive single song. This is so difficult to describe. This is techno pop taken to the next level, 70s BOWIE or 80s DEPECHE MODE elevated to meaningful sophistication. Awesome melodies, awesome effects, awesome instrumental weave, awesome synth solos, topped off by one of my favorite vocals from Toby. One of my favorite songs of the year! (10/10)

2. "All The Pain in All the Wide World" (10:09) Cool sounds can't save the discordant disconnect between music, melody and lyric on this one. Perhaps it is intentionally done, but it makes for a very difficult listening experience when one feels pulled apart in three and sometimes four or five directions all at the same time. Again, this may have been the desired effect KD had here, but I find it more than I choose to take. Perhaps it'll grow on me. (7/10)

3. "Magnetism" (7:29) DEPCHE MODE 30 years later! Even the vocal sound is stylized remarkably like that of DAVE GAHAN. No more need be said! (9/10)

4. "Rings of Earth" (8:40) opens with some synthesized drum sequence and multiple layers of synths before Toby's treated voice--mixed slightly back of front and center--enters. At 1:10 the music shifts a bit and Toby's voice comes slightly forward. This is so like early SIMPLE MINDS! Especially the rhythm programming. ("Promised You a Miracle" comes to mind.) The next shift in the third minute is pretty cool--multiple synths doing multiple things while a gradually increasing multiplicity of Tobys shout out, "Rings of Earth."* Then things return back to the second part before a ROBERT FRIPP-like heavily distorted guitar solo begins. The vocals become really cool with multiple voices layering and even harmonizing. Another outstanding song--perhaps more favored than "Amalia's Theme"! (10/10)

5. "Brittle Urchin" (4:32) opens with a heavily treated midi-bass skulking slowly over some distant background synth chords. A minute in, Toby's voice--in a fairly clear mix--leaps out at us with some more synths and slowly strummed guitar chords also present themselves very forward in the mix. At 2:30 drums and heavy bass chords join in. Toby continues singing in this pretty, mellifluous voice. It sounds like a PETER GABRIEL song! This is actually a very pretty, sedate song for TD! And a very pleasant end to an album. (10/10)

Another five star masterpiece of progressive rock music. This is rather premature, but I have a feeling that this is going to end up being my favorite TD album of all-time--even above my beloved three maudlin of The Well albums released since Y2K. Thank you, Toby, for never getting stuck in a rut, for being ever-lured to explore new pathways, for going beyond where anyone has ever gone before, for feeling that you always have to test yourself (against yourself)!

 Dowsing Anemone With Copper Tongue by KAYO DOT album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.71 | 170 ratings

Dowsing Anemone With Copper Tongue
Kayo Dot RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by LakeGlade12

4 stars 4.5 Stars. The greatest 4 star album of all time!

Kayo Dot are one of those bands that can take many years to appreciate, let alone enjoy, which has been the case for most of their albums. This is due to the band's constant desire to push the boundaries of music to the maximum and to reinvent their sound with every album. Dowsing is the follow up to their most highly acclaimed album "Choirs of the eye" which has gradually positioned itself as one of my top 3 all-time favourite records.

Dowsing can be seen as a continuation of Choirs due to the similar instrumentalisation and quiet-Load flow of the album. However Dowsing has a far greater range of atmospheres compared to the former record, to the point that each of the 5 tracks are so diverse that each one could have come from a completely different album. A track by track review is needed to enforce my point:

"Gemini Becoming The Tripod" starts the album off in a very similar vein to what was found in Choirs. You are firstly given a instrumental maelstrom along with background screams that swirl around you in organised chaos. This settles down into the main section of the song, which is a incredibly slow 5 min build up with sporadic drums and blasting bass happening every few seconds. But what is distinctive to the song is Toby's vocals. They start as a deep groaning which develop into 10-15 second long screams, over and over to the point where you expect Toby's voice to shatter from the amount of strain on his voice-box. Its drone-black metal at its most extreme and for people not used to the genre will probably alienate 80% of people in this site simply due to that voice-shattering primal screaming and wailing.

...and "Immortelle And Paper Caravelle" is the 100% opposite to the album opener. This is 9 min of beautiful bliss and to date (2016's PHOBOS included) the most chilled out song KD have ever written. The opening and closing sections of the song can be described best as abstract and dreamlike, which could send you easily off to sleep, while the middle part of the song sounds like a gloriously instrumented pop song.

"Aura On An Asylum Wall" can be seen as the half-way house between the violent extremes of the opening two tracks. After a few tense start-stop vocal moments the song goes into a Crimson-inspired instrumental which is full of energy and ideas. The intensity slowly builds up until it climaxes into black-metal screams and instrumental chaos. Honestly this is one of the most impressive Prog instrumentals out there and is the most accessible of the 5 songs. Its also the only song on Dowsing that can be considered fast-paced.

The first 4 minutes of "___ On Limpid Form" continue the KC Prog from the last track and make for a nice, self contained track in its own right. But instead of finishing the final sparks of the song refuse to die and gradually morph into a monster 12 min drone-metal marathon. All the momentum of the last song + 4 min is gone completely and the listener's patience is truly tested. The dynamics of the song is also challenging as it pulses from too quiet to ear-bleedingly load in a space of seconds. The track slowly goes from one theme to another until it finishes with Godspeed you! post-rock noise. A very challenging 18 minutes.

"Amaranth The Peddler" however can be seen as a more abstract and inaccessible cousin to track two, with the opening and closing sections being very challenging avant-garde soundscapes and the middle being a oddball avant-prog track. The closest comparison I can make is KC's Moonchild, i.e. you need to be in the right headspace for it otherwise its just random noise.

You may have noticed I've not given my personal opinion on most of these songs. Well to me each song is a clear 5 stars in their own right, and each one makes huge strides in expanding the boundaries of established music. However the major problem with Dowsing is that the musical canvass is so overwhelmingly wide that there is little to no coherency between any of the songs. I never listen to this album from start to finish, in fact in my head I treat Dowsing as 5 mini albums in their own right (Like that seen on "Don't touch dead animals"). How on earth does Toby and co expect me to go from the brutal 10 second screams of Gemini, to the pure tranquility of Immortelle, to the epic Prog instrumental of Aura, followed by the glacial and brutal Limpid and finally to the pure avant soundscapes of Amaranth over the space of 1 hour and not lose my mind!? When each song is so different to the others and three of the five tracks are incredibly challenging the band are asking far too much for the listener to be able to handle.

So in summary this is a masterpiece of avant-garde music, but it does not function at all within the traditional album context. For this reason I just cannot give it 5 stars, because I never have and probably never will play Dowsing from start to finish. Treat it as a 5 separate KD albums.

 Coffins On Io by KAYO DOT album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.84 | 88 ratings

Coffins On Io
Kayo Dot RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Insin

4 stars Kayo Dot is too experimental to stick with the same genre or sound for too long. A drastic change from its predecessor, Hubardo, Coffins on Io is nowhere close to being metal, borrowing extensively from eighties new wave with a touch of psychedelic influence. Accessible in comparison to previous Kayo Dot releases, it is far less noisy and harsh, instead embracing their softer side.

Primarily a mellow release, there is not a distorted guitar to be found. The vocals, all clean-sung, take up a central role and I am glad to say that they have improved a great deal since the maudlin of the Well days. Beneath heavy effects, they command the rest of the music, capable of emphasizing and strengthening the feeling already carried in each song. They bring the sprawling opener The Mortality of Doves to a grand peak, and (I point this out mainly because I find it a humorous delivery) they can sound rather sassy in the Library Subterranean line "he drew the pictures of his dream."

A lot of these songs incorporate a post-rock-type, or in a more general sense a buildup of intensity, into the new wave framework. Often times a song will follow one theme for a while until another one subtly slides in. It still shifts between the extremes of noisiness and ambience to a degree, but generally falls closer to the ambient side of the spectrum. Spirit Photography, the ten-minute closer, certainly has a strong basis in ambient, peppered with vocals and saxophone noodling, but it does build up much like the others. Most reminiscent of earlier Kayo Dot is the relatively short Assassination of Adam and the latter portion of Library Subterranean, featuring what sounds suspiciously close to a masturbatory prog instrumental section. Both chaotic and noisy, like the rest of the album, they still cannot be considered heavy or metal.

Coffins on Io places Kayo Dot's experimental tendencies of odd instrumentation, extended song lengths, and overall unconventionality, into the framework of eighties new wave to a good result, one that is more accessible, less noisy, and more vocal-based and mellow. I'm not sure where this falls for most Kayo Dot fans, but I find Coffins on Io an enjoyable release, and it would be interesting if they continued to insert their love for experimentation into the framework of other genres as well.

 Hubardo by KAYO DOT album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.92 | 115 ratings

Kayo Dot RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars I should have done my homework before picking this one up. I'm not a big fan of Avant Metal although there are exceptions including the mind-bending "Choirs Of The Eye" by this band. Their latest "Coffins On Io" is far from Avant and has become my favourite by them. Anyway this particular recording is quite long at close to 100 minutes and very bleak. There are a few styles of music at play here but the extreme stuff I find very difficult to enjoy.

"The Black Stone" is what I call getting off on the wrong foot when it comes to my tastes. We get experimental sounds and more as spoken growly vocals join in. This continues for about 6 1/2 pointless minutes. Then the tempo picks up as the vocals stop but the growls are back before 9 1/2 minutes but more sung than spoken. "Crown-In-The-Muck" is melancholic and I like the tone of the guitar and also the drum work. It picks up and horns are added. Vocals after 4 minutes and they become extreme about a minute later as this becomes the focus. "Thief" is drum and vocal dominated and it's uptempo. It does settle back with random drum patterns, laid back clean vocals and more. Horns join in as well and I like how dissonant they are 4 minutes in. "Vision Adjustment To Another Wave Length" features a chaotic soundscape with vocals that yell throughout. Not a fan. "Zlida Cao Sgi(To Water The Earth)" has some impressive instrumental work but with lots of growly vocals. "The First Matter(Saturn In The Guise Of Sadness)" is my favourite track. This sounds so good with those relaxed vocals and atmospheric sound. Just a great sounding tune.

"The Second Operation(Lunar Water)" is a sparse track overall as it opens with keys as horns join in softly. The violin becomes the focus then reserved vocals take over around 3 minutes in. Backing vocals and some creepy violin follow. A calm with vocal melodies after 6 minutes. "Floodgate" is a heavy duty onslaught with growly vocals. "And He Built Him A Boat" is the other tune I like. It's ANATHEMA-like circa the "Judgment" era. Guitar expressions and drums lead the way before it calms down with reserved vocals, a beat and more. Some cool lyrics in this one. "Passing The River" has a beat with guitar as laid back vocals arrive. It kicks in hard at 3 1/2 minutes then calms right down with distorted guitar. Drums join in and we get chaos after 6 1/2 minutes as the horns scream and the sound picks up. Another calm 9 minutes in as the laid back vocals return and this continues to the end. "The Wait Of The World" is completely different from the rest as they turn this into a jazzy mode with lots of horns and it's uptempo. Again the heavy and calm are contrasted until it feels like they simply jam for a long time with plenty of horns before a calm returns just before 10 minutes.

Many consider this KAYO DOT's best but I have to disagree. Still if your into extreme Metal that is adventerous with some variety you really need to check this out.

 Blue Lambency Downward by KAYO DOT album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.53 | 108 ratings

Blue Lambency Downward
Kayo Dot RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Prog Leviathan
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Reviewing anything that is classified as "avant garde" is like walking through a mine-field of subjectivity. For those up to the challenge, it can be very rewarding; for those who just need three and a half minutes of music to distract themselves, it is a nauseating useless waste of time.

As prog fans, we probably those that are up to the challenge, which is why most of us will find Blue Lambency Downward a deep, subtle, and dangerously beautiful charm. Those needing a 4/4 tempo and a pattern of verse/chorus/verse/chorus/bridge/chorus will probably hit the Stop button within the first 10 seconds.This album is not so avant garde or experimental that it becomes nothing but a collection of directionless bloops and bleeps; the group is definitely playing music, but it is very different than most anything you've probably heard... especially if you're new to the genre.

Blue Lambency Downward is an artful combination of sounds and music, sometimes wonderfully delicate, others abstract and improvisational, and still others oppressively moody with a sort of dark contempt. It carelessly ignores conventions to create songs that dare you to follow along, and will probably affect your mood in ways you don't expect. Each song is like a mental patient, each with their own collection of "issues" to discover. As background music, Blue Lambency Downward is barely passable, probably being too odd for you to play in most situations. As artistic expression for prog fans, it reveals many levels of music to discover - though it'll probably take you a while to hear them, and even longer to care.

Recommended if you're interested in a largely instrumental challenge to your sensibilities and senses.

Songwriting: 3 - Instrumental Performances: 4 - Lyrics/Vocals: 3 - Style/Emotion/Replay: 4

Thanks to useful_idiot for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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