Thing of the Day

KAYO DOT in Europe, UK this week

February 12th 2011.

Heads up - Kayo Dot in the UK this week: the Kayo Dot European tour reaches the UK on Sunday, starting with Brighton (by adventurous south coast  promotors Tatty Seaside Town).  They're playing Liverpool instead of Bristol - here's the updated listings

The January/February European tour is a package  featuring Kayo Dot, Tartar Lamb, and Jeremiah Cymerman

Here's the UK dates, the full European tour listing is at

13-Feb: UK, Brighton @ Hector's House
14-Feb: UK, Liverpool @ Don't Drop the Dumbells / The Picket
15-Feb: UK, London @ Vortex (with Bilbao Syndrome)
16-Feb: UK, Birmingham @ Hare and Hounds
17-Feb: UK, Manchester @ Islington Mill
18-Feb: UK, Leeds @ The Well

Kayo Dot - Toby DriverKayo Dot released a magnificent EP a couple of months-ago, entitled Stained Glass, available from Hydra Head - more info from, and loads of music to stream and download on the 'audio' page...  

in fact, here's three extracts from their debut 'Choirs of the Eye' (Tzadik):

The Manifold Curiosity

Not sure if Kayo Dot's depth and delicacy have been captured live on video yet, but this one's not bad:

...and  the Organ reviews of the two most recent Kayo Dot albums 

(28th April 2010)

Kayo Dot Coyote album coverKAYO DOT - Coyote (Hydrahead) -  Disregarding any defining line between contemporary classical composition and rock band, Kayo Dot make music that unravels, unspools in its own time, with its own pace, its own huge scope. There's nobody quite like them (if you discount the closely related Maudlin of the Well), yet Coyote sounded like completely different band at first listen.  And then.. of course this is Kayo Dot, who else could this be? But this is a Kayo Dot in a dark, dark place. Still meandering through extended, intense thought processes, still evolving instrumental passages that take you to vocalist/composer Toby Driver's furious or gentle vocal destinations - except that the peaks of raging intensity or delicate, sunny sensuality of earlier works are entirely absent. Coyote is full of a different intensity entirely: crushing anxiety, complex, slippery menace, physical pain.  It feels like a physical struggle, and that it's going to break out into something familiar, to release from holding back, but the claustrophobia just ebbs and flows until it gains its own logic and beauty.  And of course, because this is Kayo Dot, it is beautiful - an exquisite balance of violin and synth and classical instrumentation with guitar and a gorgeously alive, expressive bass that sometimes festers and growls, the whole integrated effortlessly with drums (from superb ex-Time Of Orchids drummer Bodie). In Abyss Hinge II: The Shrinking Armature, there are passages of what is surely Leslie-speaker distorted trumpet or sax, and organ, which sound magnificently like a lost Kayo Dotprelude to A Plague Of Lighthouse Keepers.  Few bands have ever been brave enough to take on this amount of space and distance, and to combine orchestration and proper jazz and improvisation and rock dynamics with such seeming effortlessness.  Eighties misfits Birdsongs Of The Mesozoic come close (interesting that Toby Driver was also based in Boston at one time), and there are just hints of pre-sellout Efterklang. (Previous Kayo Dot and MotW albums reference Led Zeppelin occasionally - but there's none on this one). At times it becomes a kind of psychedelia in the purest sense of music as altered state, twisted like Comus or early King Crimson. Other moments point to Driver's background in doom and metal (but then you could be picking apart these musicians' myriad influences all day).  In Opeth's wildest dreams, they hope they sound almost as good as Kayo Dot.

 Driver's previous lyrics for both this band and Maudlin of the Well have always been enjoyable, a brilliant mix of the shamelessly romantic, mystic and surreal, and it's a shame I don't have them yet at time of writing.  Coyote is about the death of a musician friend, which goes a long way to understanding the dark and painful feel of this album. The five tracks (including two over ten minutes long) work together, maybe more so than any of their previous albums. A linked journey that reveals ever more layers of detail on each listen, and yes, it climbs slowly to the cathartic release that Kayo Dot can deliver like no other.  There's nothing crude or obvious about this: as with every moment of this album, it's subtle, and deep, deep, and absolutely honest in it's emotions.  In fact, it's kind of dawning on me how great Coyote is - and that's great as in memorable, as in a great work, something that will take time to sink in to many people's consciousness just as it takes time to sink in to any of Kayo Dot's music. When it comes time to compile those end of year best album lists, Coyote will be right there at the top... or

(from ORGAN #267> JULY 24th '08):

Kayo Dot Blue Lambency Downward

KAYO DOT - Blue Lambency Downward (Hydrahead) - This is not fast food. This is a banquet of rare ingredients and exquisite constructions, to be digested over days, not minutes.  It's sweet and beautiful and not for the faint-hearted, dripping with opiate languor in one place, curling into unsettling, chilling landscapes (landscapes out of the films of Jan Svankmeyer and Brothers Quay) in another, building slowly slowly to a peak.  
   Kayo Dot - for all intents the work of composer/multi-instrumentalist Toby Driver - are masters of the slow boil, the long journey.  Listen to the samples of their 2003 album Choirs Of The Eye on and you'll hear ranging avant-thrashouts that melt down to whispered poetry, and woozy, heat-hazed songs that gradually work up to thunderous metal denouements like an escalating arms race no-one can remember starting.  Kayo Dot are, in common with any truly great creativity, almost impossible to describe.
           A good deal of Blue Lambency Downward can be compared to the more abstract passages of A Plague Of Lighthouse Keepers, the legendary twenty-minute masterwork of Van Der Graaf Generator.  Kayo Dot are that avant, psychedelic sensibility concentrated and amplified; lusher, more sensual. Their contemporaries are Time Of Orchids, equal in mastery of the romantic and hypercomplex. The lyrics are magnificently obtuse, a fever dream of Dada and Coleridge, both absurd and deliciously tactile, and it all comes together on the opening, title track's swooning, stuttering, richly strange climax.  Driver's elegant voice is endlessly listenable, part torch singer, recognisably from a rock background and wrapping effortlessly around some edgy melodics, hinting at middle-eastern quarter-tone singing.  Violin (from, sax, clarinets, malletophone, organ and synthesizers take equal parts to the band setup (and the synth throbs and drones are treated as part of the arrangements in a way few if any have succeeded with).  Indeed, despite echoing the more psychedelic, stranger moments of Led Zeppelin this is barely a rock band, more a contemporary classical work that can stand up to the high standards of that world, crossing over into classic and avant jazz. Having said that... The Awkward Wind Wheel is the heaviest, most straight-up piece on this album, showing The Mars Volta how it should be done (apparently Kayo Dot are worshipped by contingents of Mars Volta campfollowers) and maybe referencing Voivod a little.  Elsewhere, Right Hand Is The One I Want and the opening build of Symmetrical Arizona meander into limpid backwaters, easy to get lost in if you're in a hurrying mood.  That's the essence of listening to Kayo Dot, and Driver's previous band Maudlin Of The Well: take the whole journey with them, wherever it goes go with it - the getting there makes the peaks and depths that much sweeter -

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