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Kayo Dot - Coffins On Io CD (album) cover


Kayo Dot



3.67 | 106 ratings

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4 stars Toby Driver keeps on evolving. Perhaps more than any other artist . . . ever. Miles. Fripp. Genesis. Sylvian. Herbie. Mahavishnu John. Zorn. Ulver. Trying new styles, new personas, stretching himself instrumentally and compositionally, Toby Driver's Kayo Dot discography alone would compare favorably to any of the above shape-shifting artists--and Coffins on Io does not disappoint on that account. The much-mentioned Goth/glam-synth-pop sounds from the 1980s are absolutely present here (the over-long "Library Subterranean" [8:23] [9/10], the feel of the guitar chord sequence and vocal in the first two sections of "The Assassination of Adam"), but there is so much more. There is a haunting soundtrack jazziness to the saxophone-laden "Spirit Photography" (10:06) (10/10). And yet there are still vestiges of the Post Metal heaviness of previous Kayo Dot albums, such as on the second half of "The Assassination of Adam" (5:47) (7/10; a bit too grating for my ears), as well as some of the sensitivity and enjoyable melody-making of Toby's maudlin of The Well era ("Longtime Disturbance on the Miracle Mile" [4:07] [8/10]). Parts of "The Assassination of Adam," interestingly, also fit into the realm of psychedelia.

Two of my favorite three songs sound like they came straight out of the 80s. In the haunting "Offramp Cycle, Pattern 22" (9:25) (10/10) I hear bits and pieces of bands like DIF JUZ, TALK TALK, BLUE NILE, THE CURE, GENE LOVES JEZEBEL, NEW ORDER, DEPECHE MODE, ICEHOUSE, ROXY MUSIC, and even STEELY DAN (in the drumming).

Despite its length, "The Mortality of Doves" (11:54) (9/10) has one of my favorite Toby Driver vocals of all-time. Though it is very heavily treated in reverb, it is his most consistently 'normal' vocal ever. It is also heavily steeped in similarities to the glam styles of 1980s Glam rockers like Brian Ferry, Ira Davies and Dave Gahan. And yet it is Toby Driver--his own fresh, new territory. Where the song suffers, however, is in its lack of variation and 'development' over its twelve minute length.

"Spirit Photography" (10/10) escapes being pigeon-holed in the 1980s umbrella due to its spaciousness and its jazzier drums (though 1990s TALK TALK does come to mind). The gentle central groove with its DICK PARRY-like breathy sax is quite reminiscent, to me, of the wonderfully soporific songs "Breathe" and "Us and Them" from PINK FLOYD's Dark Side of the Moon.

Still, this is, for me, the most impressive--and my favorite--Kayo Dot album since Choirs of the Eye. The others have been either too unpolished, too dark and depressing, or seeming undeveloped and without direction. While Toby's signature chunky, rolling bass remains central to every song, Coffins on Io has seen Toby & Co. take a definite turn down "a road less travelled by" other bands. Let's hope that it is the one that makes all the difference.

4.5 stars--one of the best I've heard from 2014.

BrufordFreak | 4/5 |


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