Kayo Dot

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Choirs Of The Eye

Kayo Dot - Choirs Of The Eye ©2003 Tzadik
1. Marathon
2. A Pitcher Of Summer
3. The Manifold Curiosity
4. Wayfarer
5. The Antique

The year 2003 saw avantgarde metal band Maudlin of the Well change its name to the equally esoteric Kayo Dot, join the roster of John Zorn’s Tzadik record label (thereby somewhat acrimoniously terminating their tenure with Dark Symphonies), and release an album that is far and beyond better than anything released under their previous moniker.

Choirs of the Eye was released as part of Tzadik’s Composer series of albums, which is to say that a large part of the albums in question were composed via classical theory. The normally restrictive confines of classical composition (yes, I am a notoriously lazy musician) do not really come into play as the music itself leaves a lot of room in which the members can improvise and noodle around on their respective instruments. Whereas Maudlin of the Well’s more experimental (read: weird) moments were occasionally forced in approach, Kayo Dot tends to go about things in a much more organic and moody way. It seems as if the band’s intent was to create and obtain a mood without so much weirding their listeners out, and while it does have its revved up, doomed out, and intense moments (witness the utterly awesome, almost Weakling-inspired black metal cacophony that comes about at around the 10:30 mark of “The Manifold Curiosity”), Choirs of the Eye is mostly a pensive and moving affair that has more in common with the releases of Talk Talk, Cerberus Shoal (with whom the band has recently toured), and The Dirty Three than with any that of any metal band I can think of offhand.

To close, I will say this: I wish that Dark Symphones did not take Kayo Dot’s departure so personally, as they are now witholding the release of MotW’s back-catalogue, thereby robbing fans of some truly great music. Let us hope that they shape up before the albums are forgotten entirely. In the meantime, we can rejoice in the release of this album and, hopefully, many albums to come.

Review by Alec A. Head

Review date: 12/2004

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Blue Lambency Downward

Kayo Dot - Blue Lambency Downward ©2008 Hydra Head
1. Blue Lambency Downward
2. Clelia Walking
3. Right Hand is the One I Want
4. The Sow Submits
5. The Awkward Windwheel
6. The Useless Ladder
7. Symmetrical Arizona

It's never a good sign when I start formulating my review while typing out the song titles. Adjectives such as "useless" (from "Useless Ladders") and "awkward" (from "The Awkward Windwheel") seem far too apt to describe much of Kayo Dot's Blue Lambency Downward. Most listeners associate this act with its precursor Maudlin of the Well. By this point, Kayo Dot has moved further and further away from their metal roots and have entered the most dire and vile of musical arenas: pretentious jazz. I've seen write-ups that suggest there's some classical composition at work here, but I can't really picture Bach getting a kick out of this at all. Igor Stravinsky might even start a riot.

Whatever the "style" of this record happens to be, the reality is that the recorded results offer a tedious listen. I noticed a slight tendency for Kayo Dot to occupy a similar sonic realm as Tortoise, except without even the slightest bit of listenable music. The biggest flaw in this album is that there is very little for most people to hang a hat on. Worse, this is the type of record that flushes out the most pretentious and "advanced" music listeners who will inevitably point to their appreciation of this mess of a record as proof of their superior listening skills. While the musicianship and technical ability of Kayo Dot is evident, their ability to create something interesting is severely lacking. This is noodling and not a whole lot more.

Very self indulgent.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 11/2009

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