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Kayo Dot - Blue Lambency Downward CD (album) cover


Kayo Dot



3.53 | 110 ratings

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Queen By-Tor
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars About as easy to ingest as the title

Kayo Dot has been the subject to a lot of praise recently, all of their albums usually seen as the bringers of the new dawn of progressive music with their off beat avant gard post metal sound. What's important to understand about this band is that - yes, they're very creative, - yes, they're very original and - yes, they have a certain amount of structure to their music. It's also important to understand that if you fancy yourself a prog fan who enjoys the sweeping melodies and grandeurs of the epics and concepts then you will not, and I repeat not enjoy this album. Of course by now the masses are screaming, ''but have an open mind! Just because you don't understand it doesn't mean it's not good!''. Well having listened to this album as many times as I would give any album that I am more inclined to like (perhaps more) I can say that I've formulated an opinion on this disc. There's lots of things about this album that makes for a frustrating listen, so let's get into them.

This album is difficult to enjoy. Okay, sure, not much prog rock is an easy listen the first time you hear it, but it usually has at least one melody, one hook, one something to make you come back to the album. The first time I heard this album I could not tell you a thing about it afterwards other than it was devoid of melody and mostly drums with some plucking of guitar strings along the way. Determined to understand what makes this band one of the Holy Cows of modern prog I listened to it more and more to the point where I was forcing myself to listen to it. That's not usually the mark of a good album. Sure, a good prog album finds its way under your skin and you find yourself liking it without knowing what the hell just happened, you wake up one day and say, ''wow! This really is something!''. Well, unless you're going to cut open your arm and put this album inside this one is not going to make it under your skin. Right off the start this album is a let down. The 10-minute long title cut makes for a long and boring retread of very little going on. After hearing a lot of post/experimental prog metal you might be thinking to yourself, ''and it explodes into motion.... now!!'' and it doesn't, ''NOW!!!'' still nothing. Then you get frustrated and beat your head against the wall wondering why this song has wasted 10 minutes of your life. A very samey voice drags you through an overly under ambitious drum section with guitar plucking a string now and again, the bass lazily drifting along for the ride. While songs like this usually build up to an emotional and cataclysmic climax this one just doesn't! If you had to draw this song in some sort of portrait it would likely be one strait line. Moving into the second track Clelia Walking we're greated with some heavier stuff and a string section near the middle. Instead of immersing us in a sea of evil as so many post metal bands do this one attacks with quick bursts, and that can often be effective. Here it is not. There's once again no buildup to make any emotions bubble and this one too quickly falls flat.

Honestly, put this album on and put the playhead anywhere, you'll hear pretty much the same thing. A string section lazily drifting on a boring bass line resonating from the last time it was plucked three minutes ago, a heavy riff followed by silence or the voice which is as uninspiringly monotonous as just about anything I've ever heard. Right Hand Is The One I Want carries on the lack of emotional tension and repetitive hits of the same themes... and the cereal box would read ''now with more string section!''. Right on. 21 minutes into the record and I'm bored to tears. When will it end? The Sow Submits is a lazy instrumental section capturing the 'essence' of the first three songs. An almost emotional moment near the end when the drums start going mad. Some wind sections in here also lazily drift along. Still not convinced.

Okay, whoa! Here we go! The Awkward Wind Wheel starts with a heavy bass, frantic drums and launches into a powerful piece led by a creepy voice and a well instructed guitar riff that does everything the album wanted to do all along! The voice is frantic, panicking, shrieking to the audience! The string section comes in and sometime between the last time we heard it and now it became interesting! The winds come in to increase tension and the strings bring it up even more the drumming becomes more frantic and everything goes into an enjoyable chaotic frenzy. But it's over all too soon.

Yes, yes that's right, were back into nothingness. The Useless Ladder is just that - a questionable song that really doesn't do anything but cause one to raise an eyebrow. Almost entirely a-Capella with some subtle instrumentation in the background this one is plain bizarre... which is acceptable and not. Really, if this album was filled with killer tracks this one would probably work well to introduce the closing song. As it is it really just amplifies the fact that hey, so far there's only been one enjoyable song on the bill. The final song on the album works a lot like the opener except, hey, this one actually goes somewhere. This one has a build that a lot of the other songs have been missing and it actually has emotion behind it! Wow, they actually woke up! Too bad the album is just about over. Still chaotic, Symmetrical Arizona may not be a powerhouse like The Awkward Wind Wheel but it's trying. It's trying oh so hard. Some King Crimson like moments coming into the end almost make for a calling of 'retro' applicable to the style with the multi-instruments layered on top on a malevolent ambiance. Then it's over. It's finally over.

Right then, if you haven't already burned me at the stake in your mind for this... This one has to get 1.5 awkward wind wheels out of 5. Rounded up because I'm sure there's an audience out there for people who really hate to listen to anything slightly conventional. If you hate melody and love dissonance you'll likely get a kick and a half out of this album. The word pretentious comes to mind when I think about what to call it in general, but we in the prog scene are used to that term enough. Some may like to sit on Toby Driver's high horse and say that anything that doesn't attempt to traverse the norm is garbage, but there's some parts of the norm that have always worked for a reason. Kudos for being experimental, but that doesn't mean I have to like it.

Queen By-Tor | 2/5 |


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