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Kayo Dot - Choirs Of The Eye CD (album) cover


Kayo Dot



4.24 | 375 ratings

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Cygnus X-2
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Kayo Dot was born out of the ashes of the now defunct Maudlin of the Well. The difference between Kayo Dot and Maudlin of the Well is that Kayo is a lot more experimental, a lot more avant-garde, and a lot more out there. The man behind the two projects is Toby Driver (guitar/vocals). His compositional skills are quite breathtaking and he can really make dissonance sound like brilliance. Not to say the rest of the band don't add to the atmosphere. There is swirling violins courtesy of Mia Matsumia, majestic trumpet from Benjie Messer and Adam Scott, to the sparse drumming of Sam Gutterman. Their debut album, Choirs of the Eye, is a very orchestrated and multi-layered effort, as opposed to the more earthly Dowsing Anemone with Copper Tongue. Regardless, though, Kayo Dot is making music that challenges the mind and keeps the listener on their proverbial toes, as you never know what direction they may take. Throughout the 55 minutes of music, the listener is taken through many different avenues of musical thought. From quiet, somber, and melodic sections to dissonant, heavy, and intense sections, this album has it all.

Marathon opens the album with some dissonant chords and some powerful drumming. A voice that sounds like it's coming from a loudspeaker plays over the chaos. A somber trumpet plays over some sullen guitar chords before increasingly heavy and dissonant guitars mold with some distorted screeching vocals, before turning into a claustrophobic screaming nightmare. That makes up for the first half of the song. The second half is a more somber section dominated by baritone guitars and wavy keyboard lines. A great way to open the album showing how dynamic the group can be. A Pitcher of Summer begins with some sharp guitar chords and a nice little single note motif. Gentle vocals from Driver meet with the gentle drumming and the steady bass line and the post rock feeling is enormous until the guitars increase in intensity while the vocals still maintain that gentle edge. Some great unison vocals between Driver and a female vocalist really finish the song off well.

The Manifold Curiosity is next, and it carries on that feeling of post rock meets metal. Some great clarinet works frighteningly well with the distorted guitars. Some gentle acoustic guitars and vocals round out the next few minutes, and the song continues to expand and change in mood and feel. Going from nervous, intense, and hectic, to quiet, somber, and delicate, this song has it all within the 14 minute timeframe. Kudos to the trumpeters on this track, giving tremendous performances along with the clarinetist. Wayfarer begins with mellow acoustic guitars and more gentle vocals from Toby Driver. Some melodic violin plays melancholic lines while Driver whales away and gives a very emotional vocal performance (which reminds me a bit of Sigur Ros). The track maintains that mellowness for the entire 10 minutes. The Antique is the longest piece on the album, clocking in at 14:41, and it ends the album in a similar fashion to the rest of the album. A quiet intro gives way to a heavy middle section and a mixed ending of heavy and light to create a perfect closing section.

In the end, Kayo Dot's debut is a varied mixture of heavy and light sections. The thing that binds it all together is the incredible musicianship and the diversity between the elements of the band. The musicians are able to seamlessly switch from section to section with ease and make it sound logical and not forced. Unfortunately, the only thing that really brings the album down is that the songs follow a similar structure of quiet intros into heavy distorted sections of pure dissonance. Overall, though, there is enough to like about this album to give it a solid 4/5.

Cygnus X-2 | 4/5 |


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