KAYO DOT — Plastic House On Base Of Sky (review)

KAYO DOT — Plastic House On Base Of Sky album cover Album · 2016 · Non-Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·
bartosso
Revisiting the uncharted

Some of the more perceptive readers might deem the title of this review absurd and some of the more radical ones, stupid. And yet, the very existence of postmodernism depends on how good we are at reshaping the old into the new, making it as fresh 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), Toby's musical identity has been shining through layers of inspiration and styles he has so far 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? And yes, it actually seems to be a big chunk of it. It's like admiring someone's brilliance despite being blinded by it.

It's no wonder Toby's decided to go for more focused, more compact albums after Hubardo, arguably the most diverse and, quite obviously, the longest album in his career; a summary of all he did up to this point. Unlike pre-Hubardo records, both Coffins on Io and Plastic House on Base of Sky feature a somewhat vintage sound, marking a change in stylistic direction. Strongly inspired by the Japanese composer Susumu Hirasawa and by some of the greatest 80s icons, with the most prominent being David Bowie, Joy Division, Brian Ferry, Vangelis and the whole era of progressive rock and electronica, Toby does what he does best; he dislocates all elements from their hinges, makes them his own, unique. They all 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 music roots behind. Plastic House on Base of Sky is a playground for electronic polyphony: jarring, often atonal, rhythmically complex and intense to the point of being exhausting. As with all of their albums, however, a profound feeling of purpose grows stronger with every subsequent spin, a feeling of discovery. This definitely is a record that interacts with the listener on the most personal level possible, mostly because the artistic process itself knew no compromise. That's also 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 self-expression 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 music roots, deep into the unknown where the old merges with the new to become something, somewhere. Despite being extreme in a general sense, Kayo Dot was never meant to appeal to metal fans or fans of any other specific genre. I honestly don't know who this music is addressed to, and I doubt it actually is to anyone in particular. All I can say is that an open minded approach is advised and any preconceptions you might have about art-rock, progressive electronica or synth-pop are to be discarded. Plastic House on Base of Sky is neither of those things. It is more.
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more than 2 years ago
I'm familiar with the name Maudlin of the Well but haven't heard them yet. Will check them out and maybe older Kayo Dot.

My coworker's name is Kayo, by the way. I'll show her the album cover.

bartosso wrote:
more than 2 years ago
Yup, some KD fans call me "sensei" :)
siLLy puPPy wrote:
more than 2 years ago
Oops, sorry, Bartosso. I only heard it through the grapevine but havne't heard em all. You seem well versed in the Kayo Dot universe so i defer to your expertise ;)
more than 2 years ago
Their albums seem to have come in pairs so far; two metal, two not. Maybe that means the next one will be metal again. ;)
bartosso wrote:
more than 2 years ago
@Puppy: This ain't true, my good man. Gamma Knifo and Hubardo were both metallo.
siLLy puPPy wrote:
more than 2 years ago
Voila, the first two albums are avant-garde metal. If you know Maudlin Of The Well, it's Toby Driver's band after that one where he continues his post rock take on metal but on the third album they dropped the metal and never picked it up again
more than 2 years ago
Gave them a listen. Not have. Typo.
more than 2 years ago
Well, I have them a listen and... Not what I'm into at the moment. But I still like the cover. Were they ever metal? I listened a bit to Coffins on Io and it was similar to this album.
more than 2 years ago
I like the cover and your review has captured my attention. I don't know the band but I think this album is where I will become acquainted with them.
bartosso wrote:
more than 2 years ago
Coffins on Io is very different from this one, I think I didn't make it clear enough in the review. Both are wonderful, though :)
siLLy puPPy wrote:
more than 2 years ago
I haven't kept up with them after the first couple but i do have Coffins Io, not sure what to think yet :) Great review. Will check this and the others out one of these days

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