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 ·
Sleepwalker
“I was swept away when the choirs in your eyes cast little drops of water on everything”

Already mentioned in the lyrics of a song on Maudlin Of The Well’s debut album, Choirs Of The Eye is the title the first release of Kayo Dot, another project of Toby Driver rising from the ashes of Maudlin Of The Well. The music on Choirs Of The Eye is more avant-garde than that of Maudlin Of The Well, and the modern classical music influences seem to play a bigger role here as well. This can be seen in the line-up of the band, which features a bigger amount of woodwind and brass players than Maudlin Of The Well did. Also notable in this line-up is violinist Mia Matsumiya, who would remain a consistent member of the band up to date.

In a striking way “Marathon”, a very typical Kayo Dot piece, opens the album. The already mentioned modern classical music influences are very evident here, as a melancholic trumpet creates a beautiful soundscape, which is a typical case of the emotional instrumentalism of Kayo Dot. This beauty doesn’t last too long however, as monstrous growls and crushing distorted guitars change the setting. These changes between beauty and beast make frequent appearances in the music and play a very important role in the progression of the pieces. Most notable here perhaps is “The Manifold Curiosity”, probably the most impressive and mind-blowing piece on the album. Starting out quite softly, it gradually turns into some of the most fierce and intense music I’ve ever heard, with high-pitched screams and ferocious riffs included.

These intense and heavy parts of the music often serve as climaxes of their respective piece. However, the softer and more benign parts of the album can easily be just as impressive. A good example is “Wayfarer”, a song driven by acoustic guitar, beautiful vocals and a delicate, melancholic violin. Though roufh distorted guitars also make their appearance in this piece every now and then, they serve a much less dominant role. Pretty much the same goes for “A Pitcher Of Summer”, which is probably the most lightweight song on the album with its feeling of solace.

Another thing that is evident on some of the pieces on Choirs Of the Eye is a droning ambience. This means for example a couple of minutes of dreamy atmosphere, or an acoustic guitar gently strummed for some time with spoken words over it. The longest piece on the album and also its closer is “The Antique”, which features more droning music than perhaps any of the other pieces on Choirs Of The Eye. The first 6 minutes or so feature a constantly repeating riff gradually growing heavier, to become what probably is the most dark and gloomy piece on the album. Doom metal influences, which also were present in Maudlin Of The Well’s music, clearly can be heard here.

The broad range of musical styles integrated in their sound basically makes Kayo Dot unclassifiable. Nevertheless, they certainly have created a consistent and solid sound on Choirs Of The Eye, which is probably an even more impressive one than that of Maudlin Of The Well. Choirs Of The Eye to me feels like one marvelous journey driven by melancholy and somberness, either beautiful or ferocious, with every now and then a feeling of modest delight or relief.
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