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Kayo Dot Blue Lambency Downward album cover
3.44 | 124 ratings | 22 reviews | 25% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 2008

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Blue Lambency Downward (9:58)
2. Clelia Walking (5:29)
3. Right Hand is the One I Want (6:53)
4. The Sow Submits (4:02)
5. The Awkward Wind Wheel (3:29)
6. The Useless Ladder (2:40)
7. Symmetrical Arizona (10:49)

Total time 43:20

Line-up / Musicians

- Toby Driver / guitars (acoustic, electric & baritone), bass, soprano clarinet, piano, organ, analog synth, laptop Mellotron, malletophone, gongs, vocals
- Mia Matsumiya / violin, organ, synth, vocals

- Eric Walton "Skerik" / tenor & baritone saxes, vibraphone
- Hans Teuber / soprano & bass clarinets, alto sax, flute
- Dave Abramson (Diminished Men) / malletophone, gongs, percussion
- Charlie Zeleny (Behold... the Arctopus) / drums
- B.R.A.D. (ASVA, Master Musicians of Bukkake) / noises (2)
- Randall Dunn / synth design, Fx, producer

Releases information

ArtWork: Toby Driver with Heung-Heung Chin and James O'Mara

LP Hydra Head Records ‎- HH666-137 (2009, US)

CD Hydra Head Records ‎- HH666-137 (2008, US)

Thanks to hybreda for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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KAYO DOT Blue Lambency Downward ratings distribution

(124 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(25%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(35%)
Good, but non-essential (27%)
Collectors/fans only (10%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

KAYO DOT Blue Lambency Downward reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars With the 2008 offering "Blue Lambency Downward", Kayo Dot reaffirms its status as a major force in the current USA's avant-garde rock scene. While compatriot band Sleepytime Gorilla Museum defined new boundaries and strategies for their particular way to deconstruct rock in their 2007 release "In Glorious Times", Kayo Dot strays more definitely from what we can usually call rock, digging deeper and deeper into the realms of chamber-rock and, also, into most the most abstract corners of what is usually labeled as post-rock. To my ears, this album is an example of experimental modern music that incorporates rock instruments, not an experimental rock album. Fog, mystery and nocturnality: these three qualities pretty much encapsulate the recurrent moods in the album. The departure of 75% of the previous line-up was a metaphor of what the remnant duo of Toby Driver and Mia Matsumiya had in store for all Kayo Dot connoisseurs - an introspective shift in the band's musical direction. The namesake opener brings languid textures with an ethereal, almost mystical vibe, very related to Tortoise and A Silver Mt. Zion, albeit with a more robust sense of tension. 'Clelia Walking' bears a very similar cadence and an enhanced tension: the creepiness created in the climatic passages fits the standards of chamber-rock (the Francophone trend led by Univers Zero and Present). In comparison with the first two pieces, 'Right Hand Is the One I Want' appears more lyrical, which is convenient as an ambience for Driver's melancholic, whispering singing. 'The Sow Summits' brings back the magnificent darkness of chamber-rock, serving as a chaotic prelude to 'The Awkward Wind Wheel'. This one is a definitive highlight of the album, and undoubtedly, the most extroverted piece in the tracklist. The rhythm section's bizarre dynamics, the agile guitar riffing and the magical violin lines elaborate a colorful sonic display that doesn't contradict the overall mysterious aura. The extroverted nature of the aforesaid track is perfectly complemented by the rougher approach delivered in the follower 'The Useless Ladder'. In turn, 'The Useless Ladder' sets the threshold of the closing piece 'Symmetrical Arizona'. Its 10+ time span and well-ordained majesty makes it an excellent closure, as well as the final highlight for the album. The elegant dialogues between violin and clarinet are intersected by soft, jazzy sax washes; then, we find those concise guitar arpeggios subtly adorned by a vibraphone that rains like dewdrops. This piece flows by as if time didn't exist for it: I personally feel like wanting some more once the last clarinet lines have closed the album's door. This is how every album should end, leaving the listener pleased with what they have heard and wishing it lasted a bit more. General balance: "Blue Lambency Downward" is the testimony of a band that has wisely led itself through a reconstruction phase, reformulating its taste for energy and neurosis in a way that had partially been anticipated in the crucial "Dowsing Anemone with Copper Tongue" album. 2 members, 6 or 7. Kayo Dot rules.
Review by OpethGuitarist
5 stars A poem written in threes over four.

Welp, here we have another outstanding record by a band, really just Toby and Mia, who refuse to compromise musical integrity. I must say that it is truly astounding how remarkable a creation this group continues to put forth record after record. I can not think of another band that has continuously strung together such a set of albums to listen to in awe. There is little in common with the previous record but still so much in common as to the style that is Kayo Dot. While the wandering has been somewhat concised, one still feels as if floating in the wind and directed purely by the harmonies of the band. I really can not say enough about the title track, which has quickly become one of my favorite recorded moments, with such passion, emotion, and feeling encapsulated in such a minuscule amount of time and space.

What makes this even more remarkable is the doom to be found in the middle of the second track, which is one of the best sequences of chords these ears have heard, expounding the listener to cast out any other thoughts and focus solely on the message at hand. We are truly embraced and surrounded by the music at hand. Few albums will startle us as much as the passages found in Clelia Walking, rendering a quality that is eternal and majestic as this.

Perhaps what makes this album most special is the longevity which can be provided by it because of its continual surprises and pleasures which not only challenge the listener but bless him with sounds that few could conceive or conjure. I am continually in awe of the direction and scope of this band and this set of musicians who continue to broaden the horizon of music and what we view it as. This would also serve as the most accessible Kayo Dot album from a non-metallic standpoint, as far as most traces from Maudlin of the Well are completely gone, but to say it is accessible is almost laughable, for this album is truly only for those with the most open and specific of musical taste. Still, an absolute masterpiece has been constructed.

Review by Dim
3 stars The steady decline...

Kayo Dot, a genius group, a phenomenal group, one of the most innovative and creative groups to exist. One of the few groups to write a masterpiece in which all other masterpieces must put into retrospect: Choirs of the eye. I bet you're wondering, why then am I giving this album three stars? Does it stand up to Choirs of the eye? No. Does it stand up to Dowsing the Anemone with the copper tongue? No. It's simply Kayo Dots weakest album yet.

As many of you may know Toby Driver was the founder and leader of the avant Garde prog metal band Maudlin of the Well (second best band of all time), and after line up, and label changes the band changed their sound, and name to Kayo Dot. Since then their music has been progressively becoming less metal, more jazzy, and more minimalistic, until this album, where there is virtually no metal, no harsh vocals, and only one distorted guitar section. I'm not close minded, this is not the reason I gave this album three stars. I love the fact that they are changing and becoming weirder, and less heavy, but bottom line is is that Toby Driver has been playing metal professionally since 1998, and while his side projects have succeeded in being completely non metal, his major group, Kayo Dot seems to be limping with the lack of it.

The music is simple, dark, sublime, with Toby's haunting voice gently guiding you through the songs, and his guitar at the forefront almost the whole time. Vocals are much more prominent on this album than the previous two, and with very little meandering, improv sections, or lengthy songs, this gives the album a much more accessible edge (that doesnt make it accessible at all though). Horns are almost as frontal as the electric guitar on this one as well, with the whole middle section of Blue Lambency downwards being mostly songs for horns. As you move towards the end of the album, the vocals become more and more common, and eventually you hit the song Useless ladder, which to me is just a singer songwriter song (but a very good one). Then you hit the last song, Symmetrical Arizona, one of Kayo Dots crowning achievements, with an excellent Driver/Mia dual solo that occupies a good portion of the ten minute song. This goes on to end the album with a very energetic, sing songy finish.

So, did you notice something missing in my review? I didn't emphasize any of the glowing moments, no groundbreaking, tear jerking, bone crushing, mind blowing moments that you will hear me say about any other Kayo Dot or Maudlin of the Well review. The album is good, but nothing more. There is no kick in the face part that makes you say Ah Driver, you've done it again, there even seems to be a lick of dynamics that this group tends to be so good at, and why I love this band so much. The atmosphere is a murky sullen one, that almost never changes. No feeling of OH MY GOD, THIS MUSIC WILL BE PLAYED WITH THE APACOLYPSE, or OH MY GOD, THIS MUSIC IS GRABBING MY HEART AND SQUEEZING THE EMOTION JUICES ALL OVER MY BODY. The album just doesnt produce the results of the last two, that's why it gets a three star rating form me.

Review by 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.

Review by ProgBagel
3 stars Kayo Dot - 'Blue Lambency Downward' 3 stars

Not Kayo Dot.

While this is another bold musical statement, I feel like Kayo Dot left something important behind. The album is a lot more jazzy and avant, but lacks the metal and anger that really establishes mood in the songs on previous albums. What is really astonishing about the record is that I find the shorter, least progressive songs to be the best. The longer tracks just make me lose attention, quite rapidly. The title track is a perfect example of my accusation. The beginning just sounds endless and tiring, with little going on and sadly nothing going on till it is over. While none of the songs are 'terrible', I find none of them to really stand out except 'The Awkward Wind Wheel'.

A short review, I know, but this music is once again indescribable and useless to even try. I can assure the reader that Kayo Dot's two previous outputs are well above this album. There is a certain lack of what makes Kayo Dot. Kayo Dot.

Review by Prog-jester
2 stars I've got only one word to describe this: emptiness.

Not that blackened draining emptiness, like some Experimental/Post-bands are able to create. Not that sophisticated emptiness minimalists are loved for. Not that evil emptiness Black Metal is known for. No, just emptiness which borders nothingness and senselessness. This is utterly pointless and uninspired record - I hate to express my thoughts that way but I've got no better words, seriously. Some blasts, some predictable free-jazz meanderings, some pseudo-metal stuff (less prominent than usually), some unmemorable melodic lines (less than usually), everything is over-too-chaotic and careless. If this is Avant nowadays, then I'd better check some Indie-Pop. Sorry

Review by sleeper
5 stars And the leviathan moves on..... Kayo Dot have gained a very strong cult following here on PA, largely due to the fact that they blend together multiple styles in thoroughly unique and avant garde way that has successfully worked its way under the skin of many listeners. But, its also fair to say that the fact that all three of their current albums are completely different from each other and bring something new to the table each time.

This time out, Kayo Dot are emphatically NOT a Metal band with Avant Garde tendencies, as some may have seen them, or even an Avant Garde band with metal tendencies. Here, the metal aspect of their music is gone, dropped, removed from existence, and replaced with a much more jazzy feel helped along by the hugely increased use of various wind instruments, notably the clarinet. Its important to note that these days, Kayo Dot are effectively a two piece band consisting of Mia Matsumia (violin and voice) and the multitalented genius (a word I don't bandy around too often) of Toby Driver, the rest of the previous two line ups have now gone. This means the music is very much under their control and as a result feels far more cohesive and , well, controlled than the previous output, the sprawling Dowsing Anemone with Copper Tongue.

One thing about this album that impresses me is the flow of the songs, they are all put together in a way that works brilliantly. The album starts with menacing ambience of the title track and builds through the wonderfully chaotic Clelia Walking and Right Hand is the One I Want before launching into the more Jazz Rock oriented songs of The Sow Submits and The Awkward Windwheel. From there there is a brief respite in the calmer The Useless Ladder before launching into the grand closer, Symmetrical Arizona. Its an album that feels perfectly crafted, as if it couldn't work any other way.

Though there is a lot of aspects of the bands music from the previous albums missing here, they have been replaced by new moods and styles whilst still retaining an unmistakably Kayo Dot sound to them. This is most emphatically not easy music to just dive into unless Avant Garde tends to be your bread and butter of music listening, but with time and patience you will find many strong melodies and quirks that create a memorable experience, and this is the hallmark of any truly great album, of which I am convinced Blue Lambency Downward is. In short, its almost the equal of the now legendary debut, Choirs of the Eye, and certainly my album of the year. 5 stars without question.

Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars A very interesting album to say the least. It's one of those records that requires the listener to work and have some patience. In other words to listen to this casually or as background music will probably bring some irritation and maybe even some frustration into your world. I have had this same experience with some of the Chamber Rock bands out there like UNIVERS ZERO. The reward is equal to the effort you put into it. That's not to say this is for everyone because it certainly isn't. To me this album seems like a solo record from Toby since his whole band left after the last recording except for Mia. This is completely different from the first two albums, hence the huge division of opinions from KAYO DOT fans about this album. It would seem the majority of fans prefer the first two albums by a substantial margin. The Metal, the Post Rock build ups, contrasts and rage are all but gone on this one. This is minimalistic, experimental, Avant-garde music with a strong jazzy flavour. I really didn't think too much of this album after listening to it at work all week, but when I gave it my full attention as I took the long drive home through the country, I started to understand. Someone described this album as a mix of TALK TALK's Spirit Of Eden and Miles Davis' Bitches Brew and while that's not totally accurate it does make some sense.

"Blue Lambency Downward" opens with a dark mood as the guitar plays slowly and sleigh bell-like sounds can be heard. Reserved vocals before a minute.It starts to get a little experimental 3 minutes in as outbreaks of sound come and go until the soundscape becomes fairly steady. Vocals are back before 6 minutes as it settles then builds slowly to the end where it calms right down. "Clelia Walking" is dark and experimental as the clarinet slowly dances around. Heaviness comes barging in after a minute, it's almost doom-like. Organ then violin follow. The clarinet is back. Explosive outbursts are followed by violin again. Vocals before 4 minutes to the end. "Right Hand Is The One I Want" is a little brighter with piano, light drums and vocals. It's jazzy a minute in with horns. Violin after 4 minutes and it becomes prominant 6 minutes in to end it.

"The Sow Submits" has a great intro that I like then there's a brief calm before horns come in. This is contrasted with dark, intense and dissonant outbreaks the rest of the way. Nice. "The Awkward Wind Wheel" is uptempo as vocals join the pounding drums and other sounds. The drumming is prominant throughout. "The Useless Ladder" is more about creating a mood. Lots of atmposphere in this one. Vocals with eerie violin before a minute. "Symmetrical Arizona" is slow and melancholic with sax and clarinet interplay early. The guitar takes over from the wind instruments 2 minutes in. Violin 5 1/2 minutes in. Drums and vocals a minute later as a full sound comes in to the end. I really like this section.

I applaud Toby for making this record, it will be interesting to see if this was a "one off" or if he continues in this style. In the liner notes he says "Deep, heartfelt thanks to the aformentioned individuals and to all others who have gone out of their way to offer support and encouragement throughout this process. May 2006 through November 2007".

Review by el böthy
4 stars One of the two most important and best Avant-garde bands at the moment (the other being Sleepytime Gorilla Museum) continues it´s path into unconventional territory, this time mixing some jazz into the already non-formulatic formula of their music; Blue Lambency Downward is not only a step into all directions (forward is just not enough), but a departure of what Toby & co. had been doing so far with their previous albums. And that´s not to say they needed that departure, which makes this shift ever so more interesting, at least in this reviewer´s opinion. Well could they have made Choirs of the eye part II and I don´t think many would have argued with the results, yet instead they don´t look back, which, funny enough, does bring some questioning from some. And how wouldn´t it? Blue Lambency Downward is just as hard to swallow as their previous efforts where, but this time the Dots changed a bit ...too much? Maybe. Is that bad? Fuck no! It is in this reviewer´s opinion that the Kayo Dot have never sounded better; if I liked their music before with this album I´ve grown lo love it.

Gone are the long songs (although both the opener and closer strech into 10 min) and bombastic metal outbursts, and introducing: short pieces of music (I´m afraid the term "songs" is pidgeonholding). But although the great majority of the album consists of short pieces, these seem to be episodes of a whole, for you see, there is a unity of entity thru out the album that, if not taken track of when one "movement" ends and the other begins, one could almost think of it as a single 40-something min piece of music. Yet, stand outs do appear here. The self titled opener is one, with it´s introductory guitars and soft, bittersweat vocals and so is it´s closer, Symmetrical Arizona, maybe the only track that has anything to do with their former albums. But maybe the best song, or at least this reviewer´s personal favorite (oh, how important and pretentious I feel speaking in the third person) is The awkward wind wheel, with it´s Sleepytime-esque intro it quickly falls into avant-jazz territory which could almost be considered to have a slide resemblence to rock music... but those thoughts are quickly thrown away by the middle of the song... yes, this one could qualify as one!

Although it might not surpass Choirs of the eye, it is however a brilliant, fresh, sophisticated, at times intimate and (yes) awkward album from a band (or should I say a man?) not interested in looking anywhere but within their own self impossed incapability to reastrin themself to boundaries.

A line from Clelia walking might best express them than what I tried to: "I don´t want to be the melody". Sure thing, they are much more.

Review by horsewithteeth11
4 stars Unlike most people, I started exploring Kayo Dot with this album, and not with the masterpiece that is Choirs of the Eye. Although I can definitely say I wasn't disappointed. I was initially shocked that this album had no traces of metal on it and made me wonder what the band was doing in Experimental/Post Metal, but their other two albums so far have cleared that up for me. The most noticeable aspect of this album is how strikingly beautiful and melodic it is despite it being anything but accessible music. I remember playing this for the first time, and after hearing Symmetrical Arizona, I put Itunes on repeat and listened to that song another 4-5 times in a row. The utter beauty of this album is really hard to describe. Toby Driver's very dark singing really adds a lot of atmosphere to this gloomy music. And yet at the same time, his voice sounds very comforting. It's not one of the strongest or best voices ever, but it fits the music well. It's also amazing how many of the instrumental duties he takes on in this album, as well as all of his works. The guy really knows his stuff and creates dark music that's very eclectic while retaining avant-garde inspirations. Actually, this really isn't so much a Kayo Dot album as it is a Toby Drive-Mia Matsumiya project under the Kayo Dot name with several guest musicians on board. The use of odd noises and unusual percussion also stands out here, but again, most of that is simply to add to the atmosphere. Saying this is a multi-layered album might be simplifying it.

I'm not sure why so many people feel this is a weak Kayo Dot album. I enjoy it quite a bit and think it's simply the band's take on a new direction for their music. It gets 4 stars from me, although it might as well be 4.5. It's not a masterpiece in my ears, but it's pretty close. Recommended for those who enjoy melodic music with plenty of dissonance and inaccessibility. This applies in particular to fans of avant-garde or chamber music, and possibly some symphonic prog fans who fit some or all of the previously mentioned criteria. This is an album that will require plenty of active listening and repeated listens.

Review by Negoba
1 stars Indulgent Free Time Snore Fest

Kayo Dot's BLUE LAMBENCY DOWNWARD was actually the first Toby Driver album I purchased, not long after joining ProgArchives. Immediately I heard a certain talent contained in the music, but the album was just very difficult to get into. I've tried over and over to capture the vibe of that magic I detected. Sadly, aside from some fleeting passages here and there, it's just not here. In the meantime I've gotten a few Maudlin of the Well albums, and here the talent finally reveals itself. I can respect that Driver is trying to push himself further and further, but by this album, he has his head so far into his navel that I feel like he doesn't even care that I, the listener, am even here.

The majority of the album is a kind of free time, dissonant, avant rock/jazz hybrid. The guitars are quite subdued through most of the album, and various horns are used in an almost Univers Zero styled warped chamber music. But there is extremely little structure here, with the instruments hanging on dissonant chords for extended periods, playing contrapuntal lines that have very little relation to each other, and Driver's nasal vocals drifting in and out acting more as another (a)melodic instrument than a lyric lead. What's more, everything is slooowww and dragging, occasionally making it up to midtempo before limping back to ambling snail.

Though Driver dominates all of his projects, this might as well be a solo album, as the only other band member credited is Mia Matsumiya on violin and vocals. There are various guest musicians, but Driver plays all the various guitars, keys, some clarinet, and obviously wrote all the music. The sound of the album is exactly that, an isolated genius recording alone in his lair, virtually oblivious to the world around him. The length of the songs is simply indulgent. It's as if Driver is challenging the listener to dislike the album just so he can say "Well you just don't get it." Well I'm calling the bluff. This is drivel. And I do get it, because I've heard him use the exact same elements to better effect on other albums.

Some critics of the album bemoan the lack of heaviness here. Well MotW's PART THE SECOND doesn't have many heavy elements either, and it's brilliant. The difference? The most important was probably that Driver actually had to work directly with others throughout the process. But there's just more melody, rhythm and interest than on this album. And everything that is remotely beautiful on BLD is even more beautiful on PTS. Another good comparison is early Weather Report. Also very free form, the jazz masters still are able to keep a bit of interest and movement in their music despite being extremely challenging.

To be fair, after the cacophonous catastrophe that is the opening title track, the album improves somewhat. Track 2, "Clelia Walking," sounds like the soundtrack to a modern art- horror flick. Bassoon and violin are haunting, and the sounds Driver employs are a bit more varied and interesting. What's more, the song gets its point across in five and half minutes. Interestingly, the song has a line that characterizes the whole album, "I don't want to be the melody, I prefer the choking sow." Umm, ok, mission accomplished. Track 3 returns us to atonal snooze land. Track 4, the ironically titled "The Sow Submits," is a bit more orchestral, veering somewhat into RIO territory, and actually makes some bit of musical sense. It's still among the most avant-garde pieces of music you'll hear, but at least it has something to say. There are actually some ebbs and flow in mood and intensity, some meaningful interaction between the instruments. Subsequent tracks are mixed bags, with some promising sections but also extended periods of essentially nothing happening.

For lovers of really avant, atonal music, this may have some interest. Even then, it may still bore you to tears. I certainly take notice that some think this is a work of genius. It may be the work of A genius, but this one goes way too far into introseptive territory. It's trying too hard to be arty, trying too hard to push the boundaries, and not just letting it flow nearly enough. Again, there are moments, but it is actually painful for me to sit through some of this music to get to those moments.

I intended to give this album 2 stars when I started, but I think this one actually rates a 1. It's actively unpleasant and all too often boring. Off to listen to HERESIE to cheer me up.

Review by EatThatPhonebook
1 stars I knew this was going to happen. I knew that Kayo Dot would have exceeded with experimentation, and they would have become boring. After a sublime, beautiful and breathtaking masterpiece debut, and the great follow up "Dowsing Anemone With Copper Tongue", the band reaches a lower point: the songs are almost all boring and for a moment, it seemed like Driver had nothing else to express that was interesting. Luckily, the 2010 release "Coyote" brought the band's level back to the origins. This is just a low point.

Despite my first, negative impression about it, there are some nice moments: the title track has some, as well as "Symmetrical Arizona", the longest and most successful song of the album generally speaking. Even in parts in "The Sow Submits" and "The Awkward Wind Wheel" are good, but honestly I can't find anything else.

As a conclusion, a disappointment, a weak moment for a great innovating band that will rise once again two years later this release with an album like "Coyote". But "Blue Lambency Downward" is just a fans only album. Too bad.

Review by CCVP
4 stars Blue Lamben. .cy . .Downward ? . . . . WHAT? Wasn't it easier to call it Cold Blue Light Glowing and Facing the Ground?

Blue Lambency Downward marks a point of no return for Toby Driver and his projects. Up untill this point in time his albums were maked by an interesting and completelly innovative mixture or death metal, experimental jazz, folk music, clasical music, etc, etc, etc. However from this album onwards, the heavy metal metal influeces will be continuosly shrunk untill being just a trace of influence for the Boston group and the jazz influences will become increasingly prominent.

Blue Lambency Downward is right in the middle of that transition, what caused some noticable issues. The most nocieable one is regarding the music: the compositions, in spite of not being bad at all, are not as focused, diverse or well balanced as both some of his previous and future releases, such as Choirs Of The Eye and Coyote.

Those downsides, however, do not make the album void with actual content, boring or lost amidst the band's experimentation (that do lack some direction to some extent) as some other reviewers have pointed. Sure, this album is far from being perfect, but it is quite good. In all honesty, I think that their biggest problem was actually lacking experimentation.

The kind of experimentation that I refer to is the one they did in previous albums and in the times of Maudlin of the Well, mixing some of the most improbable things ever. Mixing music genres you would never expect to see together in an album, let alone in a single song. Although Blue Lambency Downward is still quite experimental, the whole album still sits quite confortably on its jazzy tunes. Despite that, the jazz they present here is still a killer.

Another problem that do weights negatively here is the lack of balance of the album. Instead of being smoothly developed through its 43 minutes, Blue lambency Downward clearly has two songs that literally hold the album together: the opener (title track) and the closer (Symmetrical Arizona). Maybe if it wasn't so polarized, the final product could be better much better that it is now.

Grade and Final Thoughts

Blue Lambency Downward is, overall, an excellet album. The problems it has don't keep it from still being an enjoyable and fun album to listen to. Sit confortably, get a glass of whine and enjoy yet another interesting and intriguing release by this great Boston band.

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars I love the album "Choirs of the Eye" and when I saw this album in the store on maroon vinyl, I just had to buy it because I knew I would never see it on vinyl again. It was worth the price I paid for it. The artwork is beautiful and the lyrics are printed in the gatefold so that you can sing along. Well, I don't know if you'll be able to sing along because one this this is not is karaoke music. It is the exact opposite in fact. That in and of itself makes this an awesome record. It is so anti establishment that there is no category for it except avant-garde. I will tell you one thing, you probably won't get this music on the first listen, or even on the 10th listen. If that is the case then you need to stop playing it as background music, because it is not that. Even then there will be a lot of people out there that just won't "get" this. So be warned, it is NOT ordinary in any way. It is very original and there is so much going on. You will have a hard time picking out the subtleties in this though because there is no melody, there are no repetition in this at all. But each track has it's own distinct personality. So, if you first understand what avant-garde music is, then you will begin to have an idea what the overall album is about. Add some modern jazz overtones to the mix and you will hone in a little better on what to expect. Now, those of you that are familiar with Kayo Dot and Toby Driver know what "Choirs of the Eye" sounds like. If you want an album to sound like that, this one is not it. The danger of making music that breaks all the rules is that you end up having a bunch of music that sounds like aimless wandering, like endless noodling. That is what is amazing here. With all the anti-ordinary going on here, the music still has direction. Sure, there are places throughout that sound like everything is idling in neutral, but that only makes the passages with drive in them even more convincing. Anyway, instead of me rambling on about this, the only way you will know for yourself if you can handle this music is to try it out. If you are a prog lover, you must listen to this. Don't be too quick to judge it either. As other reviewers have said, this is a hard one to digest, but I say that once you get your head around it, it is quite a feast!
Review by Prog Leviathan
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

Latest members reviews

3 stars 3.3 Stars. Wondering though the marshes. Kayo Dot have been one of the most rewarding bands I have discovered over these last few years. Some of their albums such as Choirs of the Eye, Dowsing and Hubardo have blown me away and widened my musical horizons. Many of their other albums have how ... (read more)

Report this review (#1385528) | Posted by LakeGlade12 | Saturday, March 21, 2015 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Kayo Dot steps forth from the mist in which he is saturated. Kayo Dot strides forward as the shadows shift around him. He breathes the morning air and the limitless potential captive inside its rush. He meanders throughout a rocky waste, dancing, weaving fabric of his thoughts through evenings an ... (read more)

Report this review (#566433) | Posted by Earendil | Friday, November 11, 2011 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I would agree with reviews stating that this isn't really a KAYO DOT album. I mean, it is technically, and certain sonic elements are still present. In fact, for the uninitiated, I doubt a significant difference would be detectable. But it comes in the fine details: There used to be a kind of den ... (read more)

Report this review (#409033) | Posted by Gorloche | Monday, February 28, 2011 | Review Permanlink

3 stars WARNING! having an open mind is recommended to give this album a listen. To fully enjoy the album you must understand the band, the music. Some people will think it's just some noisy jam others will think toby driver is a genius. Sadly I'm neither. Toby Driver certainly reached and broke some ... (read more)

Report this review (#221585) | Posted by OceanTree | Wednesday, June 17, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Kayo Dot - Blue Lambency Downward Kayo Dot's third studio album, entitled "Blue Lambency Downward", is nothing short of great, another fantastic niche in the belt of Toby Driver and his oft-changing line of companions (how come avant-garde bands can't hold on to band members?). Instead of the t ... (read more)

Report this review (#171422) | Posted by Figglesnout | Sunday, May 18, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Kayo Dot - Blue Lambency Downward Kayo Dot returns with their third album, and it shows to be both a natural progression but also a dynamic shift in the music of this group. Toby Driver's composition has moved slowly away from the extreme metal of Maudlin, into a more jazz and minimalist influe ... (read more)

Report this review (#170603) | Posted by mellors99 | Sunday, May 11, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Rating: B+ This is not a Kayo Dot album. Oh, certainly, Kayo Dot wrote it, recorded it, released it, and the music certainly sounds like Kayo Dot, but, on the whole, Blue Lambency Downward doesn't hit like a Kayo Dot record. That's not to say it's bad (it's very good), but whereas Kayo Dot's f ... (read more)

Report this review (#168723) | Posted by Pnoom! | Saturday, April 26, 2008 | Review Permanlink

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