KAYO DOT
Avant-garde Metal / Non-Metal / Metal Related • United States

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Kayo Dot is a New York based avant-garde rock and experimental metal group which formed in 2003 after several members left Toby Driver's previous project, Maudlin of the Well. Kayo Dot has been subject to several line-up changes, although the constant members are Toby Driver on bass, lead vocals, guitar, clarinet and keyboards, and Mia Matsumiya on violin, viola and vocals.

The band released their debut album, 'Choirs Of The Eye', on John Zorn's label Tzadik in 2003. This album captures atmospheric metal with avant-garde overtones. 'Choirs Of The Eye' continues the combination of metal and atmospheric compositions which maudlin of the Well are known for.

The band's 2006 follow up, 'Dowsing Anemone With Copper Tongue', combines a more avant and less metal overall sound, and features over an hour of guitar based compositions with less frontal vocals and a higher emphasis on atmospheric textures and avant-garde playing.

In 2008, they
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Choirs of the EyeChoirs of the Eye
Tzadik 2003
Audio CD$10.51
$7.99 (used)
Plastic House on Base of SkyPlastic House on Base of Sky
The Flenser 2016
Audio CD$8.29
$8.28 (used)
Coffins on IoCoffins on Io
The Flenser 2014
Audio CD$9.88
$9.95 (used)
Dowsing Anemone with Copper TongueDowsing Anemone with Copper Tongue
Robotic Empire 2006
Audio CD$55.86
$3.99 (used)
CoyoteCoyote
Hydra Head Records 2010
Audio CD$11.97
$5.99 (used)
HubardoHubardo
Import
DISK UNION 2014
Audio CD$35.93
$46.11 (used)
Blue Lambency DownwardBlue Lambency Downward
Hydra Head Records 2008
Audio CD$8.35
$4.46 (used)
Gamma KnifeGamma Knife
Antithetic 2012
Audio CD$7.49
$7.48 (used)
Stained GlassStained Glass
Limited Edition
Antithetic 2012
Vinyl$16.90
$46.99 (used)
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Choirs of the Eye by Kayo Dot (CD, Oct-2003, Tzadik Records) Choirs of the Eye by Kayo Dot (CD, Oct-2003, Tzadik Records) USD $18.74 Buy It Now 3 days
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KAYO DOT Discography

KAYO DOT albums / top albums

.. Album Cover 4.13 | 50 ratings
Choirs Of The Eye
Avant-garde Metal 2003
.. Album Cover 3.22 | 23 ratings
Dowsing Anemone With Copper Tongue
Avant-garde Metal 2006
.. Album Cover 4.04 | 8 ratings
Blue Lambency Downward
Non-Metal 2008
.. Album Cover 4.29 | 8 ratings
Coyote
Non-Metal 2010
.. Album Cover 3.80 | 15 ratings
Gamma Knife
Avant-garde Metal 2012
.. Album Cover 4.62 | 17 ratings
Hubardo
Avant-garde Metal 2013
.. Album Cover 4.92 | 7 ratings
Coffins On Io
Non-Metal 2014
.. Album Cover 4.90 | 2 ratings
Plastic House On Base Of Sky
Non-Metal 2016

KAYO DOT EPs & splits

.. Album Cover 3.74 | 5 ratings
Kayo Dot / Bloody Panda
Avant-garde Metal 2006
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Champions Of Sound 2008
Avant-garde Metal 2008
.. Album Cover 3.30 | 6 ratings
Stained Glass
Non-Metal 2010
.. Album Cover 4.25 | 2 ratings
Kraków
Metal Related 2014

KAYO DOT live albums

.. Album Cover 3.50 | 1 ratings
Live in Bonn 2009
Avant-garde Metal 2010
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Coyote - Live on WMBR, August 31, 2010
Metal Related 2014

KAYO DOT demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

KAYO DOT boxset & compilations

KAYO DOT singles (0)

KAYO DOT movies (DVD, Blu-Ray or VHS)

KAYO DOT Reviews

KAYO DOT Hubardo

Album · 2013 · Avant-garde Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Warthur
Hm, this is odd. After the acclaimed Choirs of the Eye and the work of predecessor band maudlin of the Well left me cold, I'd largely ignored Kayo Dot as being a group who, whilst clearly competent, weren't quite to my taste. However, on giving them a second chance on Hubardo I find that either they have changed, or I have changed; this time, their combination of avant-metal and quieter moments works somewhat better for me. Perhaps this is because both sides seem to have been honed to something a bit more cohesive and targeted, the metal portions putting me in mind of a black metal band who's listened to too much Sunn O))) and Blut Aus Nord, and the quieter bits rumble about in the sort of space between post-rock and goth that Swans sometimes visits. Either way, finally Kayo Dot have captured my attention and I will be interested in exploring more of their stuff in future.

KAYO DOT Plastic House On Base Of Sky

Album · 2016 · Non-Metal
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bartosso
Revisiting the uncharted

This review begins with a statement that some of the more perceptive readers would deem absurd and some of the more radical ones, stupid. And yet, the very existence of postmodernism is dependent on how good we are at reshaping the old into the new. Making it as refreshing and intriguing as it was when it first came into being. More important still, is the ability of postmodern art to go beyond this premise, set itself in a world of its own and exist there on its own terms. And who else would I ever believe capable of creating an entire world for their music to exist in, if not Toby Driver. Ever since Choirs of the Eye (and for some, early maudlin of the Well as well), Toby's musical identity has been shining through layers of inspiration and styles he has explored. None of what he did has ever seemed either derivative, calculated or entirely spontaneous and the fact I don't really understand how or why he does what he does made me wonder - is it part of the fun? Yes, it actually is a big chunk of it - absorbing someone's genius while being blinded by its glow.

It's obvious that Toby has decided to create more focused, more compact albums after Hubardo, arguably the most diverse and surely the longest album in his career. Unlike pre-Hubardo records, both Coffins on Io and Plastic House on Base of Sky feature a somewhat vintage sound. Strongly inspired by Susumu Hirasawa and by the 80s icons, with the most prominent being David Bowie, Brian Ferry, Vangelis and the whole era of progressive rock and electronica, Toby does what he does best - dislocates all elements from their hinges, makes them his own, unique - they are doors to his plastic house. It's especially true on the new record where the border between organic and synthetic became completely blurred. As radical as ever, Kayo Dot takes no prisoners despite leaving their extreme rock roots behind. Plastic House on Base of Sky is a playground for electronic polyphony, unrelenting, rhythmically complex and intense but as usual, a profound feeling of purpose and personality grows stronger with every subsequent spin. This is one of those records that interact with the listener on the most personal level possible, mostly because the artistic process itself knew no compromise. That's why reviewing Kayo Dot albums is so daunting - the band doesn't try to prove anything to anyone. Toby seems to be lost in a maelstrom of creativity and despite fiercely pushing the envelope, he never loses track of what makes Kayo Dot music so engaging: the unrefined, frantically honest emotional charge put into it.

The latest Kayo Dot release catches Toby Driver drifting further and further away from his extreme rock roots, deep into the unknown where the old merges with the new to become something, somewhere. In fact, it has never mattered if it's metal or not. Despite being somewhat related to extreme metal, Kayo Dot was never meant to appeal to metal fans or fans of any other specific genre. I honestly don't know who is this music addressed to, and I doubt it is actually addressed to anyone in particular. All I can say is that: forget what you like or dislike and forget what you know about art-rock, jazz, progressive electronica or synth-pop. Plastic House on Base of Sky is neither of those things. It is more.

KAYO DOT Gamma Knife

Album · 2012 · Avant-garde Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
bartosso
He could not remember the dream

"Gamma Knife cuts through his skull as soon as he falls asleep. His vision is dim and blurred at first but it brightens with every second and he feels moved by the blissful, eerie spectacle that unfolds before him. The knife suddenly reaches his mind and the bubble bursts. All becomes vivid as the chaos spreads around and all calmness drowns in its foaming depths. How long did it last? Can time be measured in a place like this? He doesn't know. But as the edge of radiation withdraws, he is in a peaceful place again. Soft light soothes his senses as sounds of music sustain his slumber. And it all ends with silence..." Now that I lost most of you with my failed attempt at artistic writing, let's begin.

As by far the most obscure album by Kayo Dot, Gamma Knife is a negative of itself. An amazing case of an album that contradicts itself and yet, by the power of its overarching idea, works wonderfully as a whole. Now, if I just came down to earth for a moment... Gamma Knife is intentionally made that way to create an impact. The album begins and ends with stunningly beautiful and soothing, choral chamber music recorded in studio, but at its core are three tracks recorded live in concert. Could it go any weirder? Well, yes! In short, the middle part is as eclectic, avant-garde and extreme as it could get in less than twenty minutes. It's basically like a surreal 20s film where avant-chamber music meets jazz, RIO and black metal and have a shot of absinthe. The black metal side is somewhat reminiscent of Deathspell Omega and early maudlin of the Well. Compared to other avant metal acts like Ephel Duath, Gamma Knife sounds much more organic and bold in its exploration of avant jazz and chamber music. Strong psychedelic presence in the vein of Swans is also noticeable. However, what binds all these elements together to give them common identity, is the unmistakable Kayo Dot vibe that, like a totem spirit, animates every single album by this band.

I must admit that at first Gamma Knife didn't work for me as well as it does today, and I did not fully embrace its inner dualism until just a few months ago. Just like any other album by Kayo Dot, it's definitely not an easy one to get into but it's all the more rewarding once you do. Less focused on patient theme evolution of Choirs of the Eye and more on tight, aggressive experimentation known from Hubardo, Gamma Knife is a truly unique avant-garde rock ride. Let it sink in and you'll have one damn peculiar daydream every time you give it a spin.

KAYO DOT Coffins On Io

Album · 2014 · Non-Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
bartosso
Stellar!

Imagine a silver string stretched out across the room. Every of its seven segments is decked with objects of such a variety in shape, size, weight and colour, that they almost seem to be a random streak of elements, suspended magically in space. You can barely see what's linking them all. Yet every time Toby Driver and his ever changing team puts out an album, you instantly recognize who pulls that string. While Hubardo could be described as a summary of all things Kayo Dot-ish, maudlin-ish and Driver-ish in general, Coffins on Io, just like Coyote before it, is a venture into new territories.

However, while Coyote treads a bumpy path of chamber disharmony, Coffins on Io drives a Mustang '67 convertible along a desolate highway with southern lights in the night sky above and a dead body in the back seat. Every Kayo Dot album features a conceptual basis that provides the whole thing with a core. Even Hubardo was strangely consistent despite its eclecticism. Coffins on Io on the other hand is a rather focused effort. It is indeed an album heavily inspired by retro-futuro artists of the 80s, Vangelis to name just one. Equally noticeable is David Bowie's influence, especially thanks to Toby Driver's charismatic vocal delivery. You can also get some Joy Division vibes, especially in the second track. Brian Ferry also comes to mind. Generally speaking, songwriting is more minimal compared to the previous album and more focused on subtle evolution through repetition of themes. All that gives the album a quite psychedelic character. Still, somehow Kayo Dot once again escapes categorization and despite more traceable influences than ever before, their sound remains singular.

Coffins on Io charms the listener with dreamy psychedelia and retro pop vibe, but as any other Kayo Dot album it requires more than just your attention - it requires you to feel the creative passion that boils like magma underneath the surface of Io. As your perception of the music evolves with time, the album does so as well, and before you know it, you're submerged in a polyphonic hell. And what a beautiful hell it is.

KAYO DOT Choirs Of The Eye

Album · 2003 · Avant-garde Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
bartosso
Kayo Dotted

I hate reviewing albums older than 10 years, critically acclaimed, or albums unique to the point where any comparison to other stuff is nonsensical. Guess what, Choirs of the Eye matches every single of these criteria. I've been postponing this for far too long, though. No more silence! No more running. Let's do it! Kayo Dot, the veterans of all things experimental, extreme and eclectic, can't wait to hear me singing their praises. Oh, and I shall... even though I lied, they don't give a shit.

Choirs of the Eye's the first album from Kayo Dot but by no means should it be considered a debut. Toby Driver and his crew were already seasoned musicians back than in 2003, having released three maudlin of the Well albums and some other stuff on the side. Now, this album can't be perceived as metal, or even experimental rock for the very structure of it follows modern classical/chamber music standards. And yes, the pace may remind you of doom metal, some themes draw heavily on black and death metal and soothing presence of post-rock sound is undeniable. Still, the core of this record is the modern classical background of Toby Driver. Unlike many modern composers, however, Toby focuses on the emotional impact and artistic expression rather than form and pure experimentation. And that's exactly what makes this album a deep and thrilling experience.

Kayo Dot is one of those bands that you just shouldn't overlook. If you do, you miss an opportunity to experience something unique and deeply moving. Kayo Dot prove that pushing the envelope can result in something more than a mash up of genres. And if avant-garde experimentation not only with sound but with the very form too doesn't repel you, give it a go. It truly is postmodern music at its finest.

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