KAYO DOT — Choirs Of The Eye (review)

KAYO DOT — Choirs Of The Eye album cover Album · 2003 · Avant-garde Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·
Sleeper
By 2003 it had become clear to Toby Driver that the premise of maudlin of the Well, creating music through Astral Projection, had been pushed as far as it could go and further albums would only serve to cover the same musical ground. So maudlin of the Well was dissolved and Toby Driver lead half the band on to form this group, Kayo Dot. Some people have said that Kayo Dot is a logical progression of maudlin of the Well's music but I don't see that as the case, maudlin of the Well were a metal band with avant guard tendencies, but still primarily rooted in metal, but here on Choirs of the Eye a large leap of faith has been made by the band to produce an avant guard album that blends metal with jazz, classical and the odd hint of post-rock/metal (though nowhere near as much as some people would have you believe) and incorporated that into a framework that's both composed but also feels part improvised, dissonant but making plentiful use of harmony.

The opening song, Marathon, demonstrates this perfectly, with a crashing, dissonant intro that signals the beginning of something special in no uncertain terms. This assaults you for a few minuets before dissolving back into a much more gentle tune that leads out the song. A Pitcher of Summer seems to work in the opposite way, starting off very quite with just the acoustic guitars and Toby's singing before quickly building into a musical crash of brilliant proportions. Its amazing how much can be shoe-horned into such a short song and have it all work so very well. The centre piece of the album, The Manifold Curiosity, ranks as one of my all time favourite compositions from any band, and still holds as my favourite Kayo Dot piece. The reason? It flows magnificently reaching three climaxes in its 14:30 minutes through different routs, first having all the band playing a very melodic, fairly heavy tune that grows in strength before its culmination and falling away to become a sole acoustic guitar, this time building up much slower and adding a touch of the dissonance that has been very prominent so far on the album. After this second climax the violin of Mia Matsumiya leads the final build, joined by the as usual excellent guitar work of Toby Driver and Greg Massi, and the band works to just increase the raw power exponentially creating an almighty ending. It actually reminds me of King Crimsons Starless with the way it just builds up for 4-5 minutes but with a far more effective explosion at the end, and the last time the Death metal semblance will come into Kayo Dot. By now, more than half way through the album, it has become clear that their is another distinction between maudlin of the Well and Kayo Dot, the complete lack of the characteristic jaw dropping solo's of Greg Massi, though that's not to say this album is devoid of solo's, their just more subtle than before. This will come as a big surprise to anyone finding Kayo Dot after maudlin of the Well, as I did, but you quickly get over it in finding that the band use their technical expertise in a different way, to build textures and harmonies similar to the post-rock/metal bands but coming at it from a very different angle. I could go on rambling about the last two songs on here but I don't want to add another 1000 words to this review so I'll just say that Wayfarer and The Antique use the first techniques and styles as the first three songs but arrange them unique ways, to create five unique compositions that have helped to build up an amazing album. This is at once compositionally more complex and experimental than Bath/Leaving Your Body Map but doesn't get their by forsaking melody and harmony, despite a penchant for dissonance, and maintains a distinct level of emotion to the music that is at once noticeable. An absolute must have album and one of the best I have ever hear.
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