Dowsing Anemone With Copper Tongue
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3.18 | 23 ratings | 6 reviews
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Album · 2006

Filed under Avant-garde Metal


1. Gemini Becoming The Tripod (10:43)
2. Immortelle And Paper Caravelle (9:42)
3. Aura On An Asylum Wall (7:44)
4. ...On Limpid Form (18:00)
5. Amaranth The Peddler (14:07)

Total Time: 60:17


- Toby Driver / compositions, guitar, cello, bells, double-bass,
- Greg Massi / guitar, voice
- Mia Matsumiya / violin, viola
- Ryan McGuire / bass guitar, double-bass, keyboard
- Forbes Graham / trumpet, euphonium, guitar
- D. Thomas Murray / live sound engineering and samples
- John Carchia / guitar
- Tom Malone / drums

About this release

CD and LP Robotic Empire 2006

Thanks to progkidjoel, The Angry Scotsman, Pekka, Lynx33 for the updates

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Specialists/collaborators reviews

Any Colour You Like
I've been putting off reviewing this album for too long now. Partly because I was still unsure about how I felt about it, but also because it never really struck me with any strong opinions. However, I feel necessary to at least mention what this release means to me. So bare with me here folks, this might not make much sense!

Panned by some for the 'overlong' and 'repetitive dross' that consists of the final two movements, one could be forgiven for thinking this was just pretentious navel gazing masquerading as art. However 'Dowsing' (as I shall refer to it, for brevity's sake) is definitely not an album to hastily rush into, nor one you can critique without attempting to understand it's scope. The first three tracks follow roughly in a similar style from Kayo Dot's debut, that is, neo-classical, dreamy ambient music with a penchant for dissonant slabs of metal and anguished wails. However the final two movements are an altogether different beast. '___On Limpid Form' is relatively 'normal' (heh, that's Kayo Dot normal) for five or six minutes, before we are treated to the sonic equivalent of having a nail hammered into your head. Now call me a hedonist or sadist or whatever, but I love the progression of this 'drone' movement. Yes it's long, but at the end of it, you are drained, purged and tired. Whether that's your cup of tea or not, well I can't answer that for you. Following is 'Amaranth the Peddler', one of the more minimalist Kayo Dot compositions. If the former movement tires you, the latter should be it's antithesis. I especially love the percussion and solitary flourishes in this movement. Few tracks have ever said so much by doing so little. In conclusion, the aura, ambiance and chaotic nature of 'Dowsing' should not scare any hardy Toby Driver veterans. However, it tries hard to eschew the listener thematically and musically. Therefore those who can see past the seemingly inane and desolate nature of the music are apt to be richly rewarded.

This is not to say that 'Dowsing' is flawless, far from it. It's one thing to understand and enjoy the challenge it poses, it's another thing to enjoy it unconditionally. I can't always enjoy this album, but in the right context, it's highly pleasurable. Just don't play it too loudly around people who may not share your sentiments, they may not appreciate it.
Phonebook Eater
After the astonishing and beautiful debut, Kayo Dot in 2006 releases their second album, with a rather strange title, "Dowsing Anemone With Copper Tongue". At the release of this album, and still today, there has been a pretty big controversy: some think that it's a masterpiece (PA collaborators named it album of the year), while others think that it's a really bad and useless effort, where the use of avantgarde goes too far.

"Gemini Becoming the Tripod" starts everything. Copmpared to the genius "Marathon, it isn't much of an intro. But there are some moments here that really scared me: after a pretty soft intro, accompanied by Driver's soft voice, the song slowly becomes more enlivened, and Driver's voice begins to be more angry and creepy, thanks to some screaming and to his suspended vocals. Now the atmosphere is tense and kind of scary, it seems like it could explode into a fierce song any second. But that moment never comes, leaving the audience pretty stunned.

"Immortelle And Paper Caravelle" is much more minimalistic and calm, with many delicate moments. In fact, some are so delicate that you can barely hear them. A big contrast to the previous song, but very effective, so you can take a sort of a break from all those sinister moods.

"Aura On an Asylum Wall" is yet another contrast: the song is violent, with a very bizarre feeling, a little disturbing and creepy, but much more violent compared to the previous song. At least for the first couple of minutes: after a while, the sax comes in, the atmosphere is suspended between calm and strong, a peculiar balance that probably makes "Aura On An Asylum Wall" the best song off this album.

"__On Limpid Form" is the most controversial song off the album. Many have hated this song, because of it's excessive and repetitive moments. It's a 18 minute song, the longest Kayo Dot song so far, where at least ten minutes are stale and bleak, if not also monotonous, where the same chord is played, with a pretty violent and rude touch. I personally am not a big of this song either, even though I do find it quite interesting in many points.

"Amaranth The Peddler" is the final 14 minute song. Like "Immortelle...", it is quite a minimalistic song, and it seems like just a few cymbals are playing. Some moments are enjoyable, nice and calm, but certainly not melodic, a word that obviously does not exist in Kayo Dot's vocabulary.

In conclusion, I must say that it is a bit overlooked, and it really should be more appreciated by prog fans, since generally all the songs are worth listening. Of course, I don't think any die hard metal fan would like "Dowsing Anemone With Copper Tongue", for the fact that it truly has some excessive touches of avant garde. 3.5 stars.

Conor Fynes
'Dowsing Anemone With Copper Tongue' - Kayo Dot (6/10)

It's always a real dissapointment when you get really worked up to listen to a band and album, and it satiates very little of your musical thirst. That seems to be the case here with Kayo Dot's 'Dousing Anemone...' Having already been a huge fan of maudlin of the Well and what Toby Driver had accomplished with that project, I was greatly excited to dive into what is generally considered to be the continuation of that band. While maudlin really seemed to get the concept of balancing beauty and experimentation just right, Kayo Dot goes overboard with this one, going as far as throwing a 19 minute drone-texture jam in the middle of what otherwise could have been a much better album.

'Dousing Anemone' certainly has the potential to appeal to some people; I won't contest that. However, with the exception of the few beautifully done, more 'conventional' parts of the work, most of the time it's either too quiet or too uneventful for it's own good. Believe me, I'm all for musicians being creative and tripping into the realm of the avant-garde... I rescind that belief when being 'avant-garde' means bursting out with barrages of guitar sludge for fifteen minutes however, or whining in monotone for minutes on end.

The only two songs that manage to be throughly good and interesting compositions are the second and third tracks, 'Immortelle & Paper Caravelle' and 'Aura On An Asylum Wall.' The first of the mentioned tracks has some of the most beautiful orchestrations of the entire piece of music, and the third track is certainly the most consistent; immediately breaking into a vocal section before turning into a beautiful instrumental jazzy section with the violinist at the helm. The remaining three tracks certainly have moments of real inspiration that are reminiscent of Driver's past work, but the real issue here is that I can have a much, much greater concentration of those great inspired sections on any maudlin of the Well release. Why then, would I choose the new Kayo Dot over something that's tried and true?

One of the real highlights of the album is the string work of violinist Mia Matsumiya. While it's clear that every musician working in this avant act is drenched in talent, she really brightens up every section she is in. Without her, this would be a much darker and bleaker trip to take.

Overall, this is quite a poor introduction to Kayo Dot, and while I will definately look at more of the band's repetoire (avant-garde bands have a tendency of changing their act constantly) 'Dousing Anemone With Copper Tongue' has certainly left a bitter taste in my mouth, much as copper would in real life. This is worth a listen for the few truly beautiful moments it has to offer, but it's certainly not worth a purchase when there is so much other stuff that's much more consistent to listen to. Two stars, and at times; that might even be a stretch.
The T 666
It's obvious that the word "music" doesn't have the same meaning for everybody.

For some, music is just the art of making sounds and recording them, arranged in such a way that the results can be called "songs", "pieces", or whatever term that fits.

For me, music has always been about more than just sounds: it's been about using those sounds to create melodies (though music with no melody can still be good), about using those melodies to create phrases (though simpler music can also be good), about playing with those phrases and ideas to create a structure (though shape-less music does exist and sometimes of high quality), and about making that structure coherent enough as to create a song (or an instrumental piece for that matter). Once this is achieved, the other part of the music experience comes from hearing how each artist chooses to do that, how each musician puts a note, a melody on top of another and how that juxtaposition actually sounds, or harmony. If the artist chooses to put a melody on top of another different one, then I admire the counterpoint work. Of course, all of these has to have a rhythm, has to be played in a tempo, in a speed. Finally, music, for me, has to change within a single song or piece: the themes or melodies can't stay untouched; some variation has to be present. Repetition makes music coherent, it helps the brain predict what will happen and judge in retrospective, but over-repetition can make music a boring, painful experience to follow.

After saying that, it's even more evident that every person has its own particular way of understanding music, because for me, what I get in KAYO DOT's "Dowsing Anemone with Copper Tongue" isn't good music, but just a pile of experimental waste.

This album has receive widespread acclaim in some circles. I will not use the word "overrated" because the term implies a "I'm right, you're wrong" meaning to it; so I will say that I just don't like what I hear and I can't join the fuzz. Maybe I'm wrong, maybe I'm getting left behind by the train of time, maybe what I cherish is dinosaur-metal. Maybe... But I'm glad I'm still able to make the difference that works for me: this is not good. Period. If this is the metal of the future, well, no wonder I'm feeling a little bit sad about it.

I have to make this clear: it's not that there isn't anything worthy of mention in KAYO DOT's album; sure, there are some moments here and there during which my brain actually felt like if good music was coming to it through my ears; the drummer is quite capable; I can't say that this music is not original, for it certainly is, it's unique, I'll admit that. But, is it good? The album has 5 songs: of those, one I sort of accept, even like; two are forgettable, two are just too much for me to handle. And the biggest problem for me is that those two unbearable songs actually amount to half the record's total length.

Gemini Becoming The Tripod (6/10), at least this song is short (short by this band's standards, that is, for its actual duration is almost 10 minutes) so it doesn't get too boring. I have to say it also has a couple elements of interest. It starts quietly, slowly; it immediately goes into full-fledged "sludge" mode, but with some interesting harmonies here and there. The first thing that turns me off with this track is when the vocals appear: the singer sounds like RADIOHEAD's Thom Yorke but after a large dose of... something; he screams, yells, his voice is a series of laments, cries; is he actually in pain? This kind of singing is over-self-indulgence at his most annoying, because I really can't find any musical sense into it, just a desire to set the listener in the same mood as the band: STONED. And maybe that's the key! Toby Driver, KAYO DOT's mastermind, knew that this music was better enjoyed with the brain a little bit off-touch with reality. The torture-session with the singer reaches an end when, suddenly, the guitars start playing a heavy riff; it's a good moment, because it's probably one of the scarce moments throughout the album that are performed at a different tempo. All in all, not an atrocious track, but nothing that makes me hold high hopes for the remainder of this opus.

Immortelle And Paper Caravelle (5/10), mmmm, incredible, another very quiet, almost impossible-to-hear start! The guitar work consists of a few very high notes over a weird effect. When the bass comes into the mix, the music begins to take shape. The low, quiet mood gets a makeover when finally the singer comes back from wherever the last song sent him. He actually SINGS here, in that usual narcotic tone that these musicians seem to love. The trumpet gives us hope that this song will be good. Sadly, silence strikes again (I have to say that if we were to add all the minutes of silence on this disc, we would easily have a medium-length track only made of... SILENCE - John Cage's dream this would be). The quiet mood is with us again. The guitars are joined by violins, playing falling series of notes that sound like the last gasps of a dying man. Then the song ends. And we didn't know what the heck just happened.

Aura On An Asylum Wall (8.5/10)unbelievably, this track starts LOUD. Vocals over drums, with some trumpet accents for effect hit us with a force I couldn't believe. Then, the incredible: music! The trumpet plays a solo! Over piano and very frenetic drums, the brass player is doing what we bought this cd for. The mood of the song is like some dark-jazz-blues, it feels good, we start to believe. Yes, this track is good, almost very good. At the end we have some speed, some virtuosism. It still doesn't have an easy-to-grasp structure but the good playing makes up for it. But it's the last moment of relief we will get.

On Limpid Form (1/10), we start, how else could it be, quietly, like a whisper. The indulgent vocals come back. We cannot believe what we hear next: a chorus, more than one human voice at the same time! This starts so well, it seems this is going to be THE song, the song that finally shows me why this album has been eventually heralded as a masterpiece. We are about 3 minutes into the song and everything is going just fine. Then we arrive to the fourth minute; the intensity starts to wear down. What we're hearing is still worthy of attention, but it could lose us if it doesn't change quickly; minute 5 strikes and the tragedy has started to unfold: silence, some chords accented by snare and cymbals; silence; some chords, some snare, some tom-toms, cymbals; and we go on and on in the same direction. We check the clock: the song lasts 18 MINUTES! It's a sure bet that it will eventually switch to a different mood... but then, we keep on listening, and NOTHING HAPPENS. And thus we wait till, finally the end of the song arrives, and NOTHING EVER HAPPENED. The same thing played till exhaustion for more than 14 minutes!! I did a sort of experiment the third time I listen to this: at about the 6 minute mark, I went to do something, came back two minutes later, and it felt like I had never left; I did the same thing a few minutes later, came back, and again, like if I had never left! Now, I would like that to happen when I'm watching some sport, my team is winning, I have to go the bathroom but I come back and the score remains exactly the same; but I don't want that in my music, I don't want to be sold the idea that 14-minute repetition is talent. Is it? True avant-garde composers have tried things like these but with much more subtlety and richness of ideas and orchestration. Mr Driver tries to emulate something that he just can't. This song just bores me. All that was good about this track got completely lost in my mind, all I could remember was the 14-MINUTE-LONG NOISE.

For me, that would serve as the best possible explanation of the term "pretentiousness": a musician pretending us to sit through 14 minutes of mindless jamming, of stoned-jamming. Somebody could point out that there's actually a lot of invention going on, that it is a work of genius how they play over and over the same pattern just adding a few percussion effects here and there... I could accept that, if there was a melody repeated till death, like some kind of "Bolero" (how insulting I am by mentioning Ravel's exercise in orchestration in the same review where I'm talking about this waste). Or if the harmonies were so darn interesting that we wouldn't feel like we're being sold the same idea for over a quarter of an hour. But no, it's just noise, glorified noise.

Amaranth The Peddler (1/10), only cymbals played with brushes signal the start of the final song. Some dissonant chords in piano, some violin. You know, this was much more interesting when it was done more than 50 years ago by true composers like Gyorgy Lygeti. This is just a band of rockers trying to impress us with direction-less noise. When the vocals and the drums make their appearance, we're already too scared of the final outcome of the song, as we see that it lasts 14 minutes. Of course, KAYO DOT won't let us down, so they do what they do best: repeat some noise until our ears are fooled into believing we are not hearing music but just the sounds of the environment. Then, at last, the albums fades away.

This is my take on this album. I know some people won't agree with me, but that's the great thing about the internet: you don't have to, and neither have I to agree with other reviews. We can make comments about our music, whether they go with the flow or not. And my position is, this is just self-indulgence and pretentiousness, musical arrogance and narcissism, played till death, an ego overblown to the limit. No melodies, no themes, no songs, just a bunch of guys that, I give you that, seem like they know how to play their instruments, making us believe that their jamming has a meaning, that their jamming is art. For a few minutes, the music actually becomes that: musical. But those moments are few and far between. What we got here the most is silences, repetition, noise, boredom. This is not avant-garde. this doesn't defy anything, this is just glorified drug-induced noise (yes, the ego can also be a drug), played by capable musicians who seem like they could create songs, but sadly they chose not to.

Incredible, where I thought I would find some of the most advanced rock music, turned out to be the place where I most definitely didn't.

Some people, when the album was first released, categorized the music as post-metal. Post-metal? Post-rock? For me, the status of music after hearing this thing is, well, post-mortem.

(More than half the disc amount to nothing. For the good moments of the first tracks, I think a 1.5 star rating is more than enough. They just killed any momentum they had going.)

Members reviews

Dowsing Anemone With Copper Tongue shows a different, but related, facet of Kayo Dot as did Choirs of the Eye. As far as the band's music is describable in these terms, there are post-metal elements on the album, but Dowsing Anemone With Copper Tongue exhibits more atmospheric chamber tendencies than its predecessor.


Gemini Becoming the Tripod is chaotic on a cosmic level and features some of Driver's most tortured, gripping vocals to date. It winds up like in a slow death march, building in tension one twist at a time, until the coil reaches its breaking point, and the listener is catapulted into a remote sector of the universe where the stars shine grey and copper. And then... silence. Song rating: 10/10

Immortelle and Paper Caravelle is one of Kayo Dot's most beautiful pieces, and my ears interpret it as an audio manifestation of the white "copper tongues" on the album cover. The music shimmers and waves back and forth like a fragile organism deep beneath the sea where little light reaches. It is peaceful there, as if a white blanket of multitudinous tongues envelope the listener with gentle metallic clanking. The piece ends with gentle waves of plucked violins which transition to layers of repetitive violin melodies before fading to silence. Song rating: 9/10

Aura on an Asylum Wall is a brooding, jazzy track which meanders along until its pace suddenly increases and without warning bursts into a violent noise section with static-y vocals. The song is strong, but it doesn't seems as well-developed as the two preceding pieces. Song rating: 8/10

___ On Limpid Form shows Kayo Dot succumbing to the fate that their music was always liable to fall victim to; it implodes on itself. The track begins and ends as a dark, spacious piece of music, but in between there is about 10 minutes of atmospheric meandering that adds nothing to the song or the album. There are successful moments in the song, and it certainly maintains a strong sense of its atmosphere, but it is too unfocused to succeed as a piece of music. I suppose something this atmospheric was a necessary centerpiece for the album, but the band takes it slightly too far. Song rating: 6/10

Amaranth the Peddler slowly drifts up to the water's surface and reveals a scene to the listener. The song opens with straight-forward (though restrained) vocals, but it slowly pans out to a monotonous, minimalistic musical landscape. Although there is a person in the scene, he is a dot against the twilight-lit sea. And all fades to silences as wind blows at the end of the song. Song rating: 8/10


I initially gave Dowsing Anemone With Copper Tongue 8/10 because of its weak atmospheric piece, but I decided that was too harsh a rating. Despite its imperfection, the album stands as an incredible musical achievement, and I can't regard the album as a whole as anything other than a masterpiece.

Rating: 9/10
Choirs of the Eye, Kayo Dots debut album, was a large departure from the music of the bands predecessor maudlin of the Well, and a hugely successful one at that, but Toby Driver possesses anything but a stagnent imagination and the band has once more moved on. The results this time, however, are quite a mixed bag.

Frustration is the word that comes to mind to describe this album. Half of it is captivating, rocking, beautiful, calm, dissonant, melodic and many other adjectives that could probably fill this review on there own, in short an emotional rollercoaster that never fails to leave me on a high. The problem is its just the half of it. The first half to be precise. The second half touches on the emotions of the first, but doesn't quite reach the same heights and for large swayths brings in elements that I really, really don't care for.

Of the five tracks on this album, its the first three (Gemini Becomeing the Tripod, Immortelle and Paper Carravelle and Aura on an Asylumn Wall) that capture me fully. Gemini... sounds something like a continuation of the music from Choirs of the Eye, however it quickly becomes apparant that Post-Rock has become a major part of the music. Its this that has lead to the long time (and in my opinion errant) labelling of Kayo Dot as a Post-Metal band, but its only one aspect of the music and, though I am by no means a fan of the Post-Rock genre, its been used exceptionally well here. Immortelle... is the first Kayo Dot song to be completely devoid of metal, and as an experiment into the direction that Driver would eventually take the band, it works fantastically. Its one track were dissonance isn't called on too much and instead makes way for a calmer melody building slowly but surely to a moment of triumph. Aura... is an unuseul track in that it sounds the closest to Choirs of the Eye Kayo Dot of any of the first three tracks, but also sounds fairly different due to the fact that metal is pretty much missing from here as well. The sound can be charecterised as a heavy rock, where the heavyness comes from the tones of the bass, guitar, violin and trumpet rather than the distortion, except for the last minute or so which gets pretty close to being metal through the domination of the very heavily distorted bass, think the ending to The Manifold Curiosity but more so. In a way the track as a whole works as a paired down version of The Manifold Curiosity, so its no surprise that this is my favourite track on the album.

From here on out its where the band lost me for one simple, but very important reason: they introduced drone music as a major element. Both __on Limpid Form and Amaranth the Peddler start out in a similar vein to the first three tracks, but around the 6 to 7 minute mark they veer off into a drone that lasts well over half of each song. Though I've heard plenty of arguments for the development present in these tracks, I don't hear it at all. ..Limpid Form has the same crashing guitar chords going for most of the songs and the work done over the top of this comes of as noodily, and a half hearted attempt to liven things up. The live version of this song condenses things down a lot and adds direction to it all that just isn't present here. Amaranth... is just plain noodily for most of the song and lacks cohesivness, but at least some of the things they try sound interesting.

I think by now its become clear that drone music does not sit well with me at all. As I said earlier, frustration is a the word I'd use to sum up this album because that's the overriding emotion following a complete run-through (I must admit most times that I play this album now, I skip past the endings of the last two songs), which is a huge shame because the first three songs are of an exceptional quality, to a level that most bands could only dream of, but is followed by tedium that actually last for more than half the album. Still very much worth having for those first 3 songs.

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  • starlessabstract
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  • Polymorphia
  • DreamInSong
  • Pekka
  • bartosso
  • trickster B
  • Coracin
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  • The Angry Scotsman
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  • rushfan4
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