May 19, 2008


Here we go...from best to worst.5 being the best.

KAYO DOT - Blue Lambency Downward
-2008.compact disc(vinyl soon).Hydra Head Records.4 1/2 out of 5 -

The highly anticipated Blue Lambency Downward , the third LP from Toby Driver’s avant-metal band Kayo Dot, is finally upon us, complete with its expansive jazz tangents and ethereally surreal vocals. While Kayo Dot’s previous efforts still contained some of the prog-metal elements found within Driver’s previous band Maudlinof the Well, their latest work moves in a more noticeably abstract direction, leaving the bursts of guitar noise and anguished screaming behind. The transition showcases the band’s maturity and place within experimental music circles, while also taking a calculated risk towards looser and more challenging compositions. The result is an album that is undeniably beautiful, but also fairly difficult to get into, as some of these dreamy travels, the first 4 tracks in particular, meander without cohesion.

As the evocative title suggests, the musicianship found here is certainly lambent, gliding luminously and effortlessly across these 7 movements. The delicate guitar lines, graceful violins and haunting saxophones provide a comforting light for Driver’s playful and otherworldly vocals, sounding like a lucid dream variation of Jeff Buckley. For all their stunning instrumentals, cosmic atmosphere and psychedelic tones, Kayo Dot can’t seem to strike a clear path through their colorful sonic forests, as the first half of the album wanders in a slow and detached fashion, never managing to merge on a one propulsive wavelength. Without a steady and progressive rhythm, these songs come off as terrific background music, rather than all-consuming trips.

As soon as we get to “The Awkward Windwheel”, things begin to pick up, as the drumming provides a consistent momentum, driving along Driver’s evocative stream-of-consciousness lyrics and the swelling coupling of strings and brass, as it all barrels towards a triumphant, crashing conclusion. “The Useless Ladder” is a shorter track, but within its concise structure we hear Driver’s strange and descriptive narratives with greater clarity, as he sings confidently amid the sorrowful violins and flute.

The finale of “Symmetrical Arizona” is probably the strongest piece on the album, and a clear highlight from Kayo Dot’s entire body of work. Fluid symphonic tones open things up slowly before a lonely guitar plays gloriously drawn-out licks reminiscent of Pink Floyd’s “Shine on You Crazy Diamond (Part 1-5)” The rest of the band then join in again for their last cathartic exercise, sounding more unified as they jam under enticing waves of saxophone. After being seemingly lost and disoriented, Kayo Dot finally come together to produce a shining example of the band’s progressive ambitions.

Despite its inconsistencies and somewhat unfocused moments, Blue Lambency Downward marks a welcomed transition for one of metal’s most fascinating acts. If you take the time to explore the detailed environments the band creates, you will surely find this to be a rewarding listen. For your astral journeys or wine-soaked nights, Blue Lambency Downwards makes for a fitting and absorbing soundtrack. - "The Rock Blogger"

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