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Somewhat unexpectedly Dowsing Anemone With Copper Tongue took a while to grow on me, but once my initial animosity was gone, I was drawn into the strange, surrealist world of Kayo Dot. This is not an easy listen and you’ll have to give a damn lot of time for it to start making sense.
This is a huge transformation from Choirs of the Eye, with the music being much more sparse and minimalistic, often without any obvious structure. Songs morph in strange and unpredictable patterns, it’s very abstract and there’s not much that can be called cohesion. The term “avant-garde” is a much overused statement but for once I wholeheartedly agree with said label. The music here contains elements of drone, ambient, classical, post rock and even some post hardcore/scream thrown in. It’s not a metal album really, there’s no real riffs or real aggression or heaviness, but for an experimental album it’s fantastic.
The opening song Gemini Becoming the Tripod immediately presents the array of styles and influences this band has assimilated. Opening with quiet guitar lines before moving into a swell of bass and violins, the music goes through several rapid changes, appearing random at first but frequent listens revealing a change that is very structured. The climax of the opening song is surprisingly urgent, having more to do with post hardcore and screamo than anything ostensibly metal.
The record continues with the direction Gemini Becoming the Tripod established. Constantly moving, never really staying the same, the album as a whole is very unorganized and incoherent yet it strikes me that this is the only way this album could have been recorded. In a bizarre way that almost defies understanding, the music here actually makes sense to me. Experimentation for the sake of experimentation should never be the sole goal behind any release yet Kayo Dot manage to make it work.
Of course, many people will (and have) called this album pretentious and often criticize the songs for having no direction. I can agree with this, the album very clearly aims to be as weird and “out there” as possibly and the songs certainly seem to have no direction, yet these criticisms can easily be refuted by saying, well, that’s just Kayo Dot. The whole IDEA of Kayo Dot is to be as mind bogglingly abstract as possible, they’re here to be abstract, there’s no point in criticising the band for goals they NEVER set out to achieve in the first place!
Okay, so people who DO get that, please continue reading. There’s a huge amount of variation within this album, and it’s to be expected of course. Each song fluctuated through multiple changes, ranging from ambient and droning sections, to post rock and classical, scream and hardcore inspired sections and the odd section of a more metallic vigour. I usually role my eyes at bands whose sole goal is to see how many genres they can fit into one song, yet Kayo Dot never over-do it with gimmicks (I’m looking at you Pryapisme). Vocally, Toby Driver has quite the talent. Ranging from quietly sung passages that almost sound like crooning to more anguished and tortured shrieking, Toby supplies a lot of vocal variation within the album and his voice is perfect for the music on display which is suitably bleak and dismal.
In terms of atmosphere, this is a very bleak album. Songs (during the harsher sections) have a strong sense of urgency and desperation whilst the quieter, more meandering sections are filled with feelings of apathy and dreariness. It’s essentially nothingness, yet it’s a perfect representation of nothingness. For most people out there that surely must sound boring and uninteresting, of course if you’re going into this album with that mind-set you’ll be bored out of your head. But for people like me who love the dark and dreary stuff, then this album is an absolute must have.
“This is weird; it’s not bad but not very good either. It’s just really weird”. That’s what everyone says every time when I put this record on to let one of my friends hear it. Actually, that’s what I thought as well with the first couple of times I heard it. I still think it’s a strange record, and it’s not bad and not good; it’s fucking brilliant. This is probably THE most “out there” band on the planet right now, with the most original, powerful and best music at the moment. I know it’s quite a statement but it’s a lie not to say so.
I discovered Kayo Dot when they were on the #1 of 2006 spot on Rate your Music early this year. It’s not there anymore, and I understand a lot of people have serious problems with music like this, but it should be since there is nothing better than this release. I later discovered their other release as well which I think is a little more conventional but heavier and perhaps more easy-listening. It’s actually quite hard to compare both records as they sound completely different yet the band has kept its sound.
Dowsing anemone with copper tongue starts of with one of the most tear jerking songs ever. Their singer Toby Driver wails, screams, cries and creams some more as the song continues and in some weird kind of way it builds and build into this strange climax with dropping guitars and a melody through it. The album goes on with some weird noises that go on for a couple of minutes. It’s like they need some time to actually find each other and when they do it results in one of the albums finest moments. Toby starts singing again and for 2 minutes the album opens itself like a beautiful flower which is loved by everyone only to close again a wail in the darkness. It does never get heavy in this song and it’s mostly strange and atmospheric but quite powerful nonetheless. After 9 minutes the third song starts. It’s start with immediate singing from Toby and a pretty strange rhythm but it doesn’t last for long because a jazzy saxophone takes over Toby’s vocals into a lovely solo. After the solo the instruments just swirl around each other for some time resulting into some of the most memorable jazz parts I have ever heard. In time the instruments speed up. Faster, faster and faster until they result into some very bleak minimal grindcore part with Toby screaming his lungs off!
Half of the album is done now, but the most extreme part is yet to come and you don’t have to wait very long I promise you. The beast continues with the monstertrack ___On Limpid Form and I promise you’ll some more: this is the scariest most horrible track ever. The first 5 minutes are the most beautiful on the entire disc and quite possibly the most beautiful minutes ever. They are like the jazzy parts in the previous songs with some beautiful vocals on top of them, an amazing guitarsolo and great rhythm guitars and drums. But after some 4,5 minutes, things get weirder and a little more interesting and 5 minutes in the song the instruments are completely gone. What is left are the drums, almost random guitardrops and a load of feedback resulting in one of the most unlistenable things ever. It may be unlistenable, horrible and god knows what but it sure sets a mood and it sure is pretty scary tripping on this stuff. This might be the best and worst part of the album, that’s a paradox I know, but Kayo Dot isn’t your everyday band which by now is pretty clear I assume. At the end of the song you’re left there; completely insane, tired and freaked out to say the least. The next track starts with some 30 seconds of intro ticking on the cymbals to give you a little break. But it isn’t much since then a weird very low noise comes on which makes you think, hmmm what the hell was that. The low stuff continues into some weird almost drone part but it never gets heavy again. I’m actually glad for it since I have enough after that fourth song. The violin gets into the song and set’s the vibe and after 4 minutes of weird noises Toby finally gives us some of those sweet vocals again. The song stays very calm for the entire time but there are so many layers and so many things going all it never gets boring. The vocals stop after 2,5 minutes or so and the album closes itself again. The song never gets of the ground anymore but it just dissolves into some weird noises which sometimes make a whole but most of the times just fly around each other. The album closes now and ends after a full hour.
This album is a journey which is isn’t understandable after 1 or not maybe after 20 listens but explains itself more and more when you’ll get familiar with it. I myself have listened to it to death for some 10 months and now I finally reviewed it. I’d rate it a full 100/100 but I’m still not done with it and I wonder if I’ll ever be.
Written for musicmademe.com
Umm..Okay what happened? The last album was a masterpiece I praised like a psycho but this is just pretty mediocre. I gave it so many listens over a couple months and it just doesn't click with me. You know how some CD's you keep forever in hopes that you'll grow on it one day? Well I thought that would happen but the opposite was true. I hated it even more the more I tried liking it.
First of all, the songs are way too abstract. There's nothing really coherent. The music indulges in cliché dark classical atmosphere with random sparingly used gentle guitar plucking (a post-rock cliché) and cliché mild build-ups that fail to deliver anything, as if they were just one long intro. That sums it up; every song is just one long drawn-out intro to a song that doesn't even exist!
No, I don't think my expectations were too unreasonably high. I just expected some good tunes and got nothing but what seems to be puffs of airs (literally PUFFS OF AIR!) and psuedo-classical music combined with mediocre post-rock trying to pass off as "eclectic experimental art". It sounds like your standard Sigur Ros/GSYBE!Mogwai/Tristeza clone with a done-to-oblivion doom metal pace and "we have trumpets and flutes too" gimmick.
The only people that would think this is radically different from anything else ever are the geeky 15 year old metal kids that felt like taking a break from Slayer so they went to metal-archives or amazon.com and tried to find something avant-garde, in order to pat themselves on the back for listening to something "diverse". Maybe AFI and Strokes fans will find this CD and think they stumbled upon a secret treasure, too "challenging" for anybody else to enjoy.
It's classical for scenster indie kids majoring in art and clueless about classical music, post-rock for metalheads clueless about post-rock, and just plain stale pointless random noise that stalls and stalls from doing anything remotely interesting for anyone without their heads up their asses. The music is forever looped in procrastination; never even starting a song at all. A huge disappointment for a huge MOTW fan such as myself. It's such a waste that a huge line-up achieves nothing but a new ego-boosting album for psuedo-intellectuals. The very few redeeming qualities of this CD (vocals are decent) are discredited from the tedious length
There is a difference, between transformation and metamorphosis. Transformation is a complete change, whether it’s in simple appearance or other more drastic areas, transformation creates a complete shift in something. It leaves what was formally there, dead, to pursue the new existence full force.
Metamorphosis is more of an “evolution”. With this, the subject gains new features and sometimes leaves old ones behind, but never completely loses everything they were. An example of metamorphosis is the butterfly. It changes from a land locked slow moving slug to a beautiful fluttering creature seen as a symbol of innocence and whimsicality.
Kayo Dot is very much like the butterfly, except their metamorphosis is in a constantly shifting flux. “Choirs of the Eye”, Kayo Dot’s first album, was an epic of compositional masterwork and the obscure. It took a classical structure and intertwined it with the unholy worlds of Doom & Death metal, Drone and free-jazz to create a truly unique and uncomfortable album.
“Dowsing Anemone with Copper Tongue” takes everything that album was and twists to the point of strangulation. The new album is even more obscure and progressive, making it almost unrelated to the previous album. The album starts out with probably Kayo Dot’s most unnerving and sinister track ever recorded, “Gemini Becoming the Tripod”. A beautiful string sections swells then advances into a gentle march of guitars and trumpet, then just as this wall of sound gains momentum, it escapes into near silence then emerges with Toby Driver’s agonized moaning only to collapse into a black hole of distortion and chaos. This is Kayo Dot, every aspect meticulously thought and performed with perfected skill.
The record continues along this path, evolving and changing, never really staying the same, but never truly leaving the core of what Kayo Dot is. “Immortelle and Paper Caravelle” is nothing like the previous track, instead emitting an aura of geniality and sweetness, with Driver’s gentle voice accompanied by bouncing trumpet and meandering guitar. This schizophrenic approach is hard to take at first listen, but when truly experienced in a quiet and environment, it is an amazing aural experience.
This record is not a “Choirs of the Eye” sequel, at all, it actually sounds nothing like it, except for a few elements that are engraved in the entity that is Kayo Dot. Think of “Choirs of the Eye” as the caterpillar and “Dowsing Anemone with Copper Tongue” as the butterfly; as a separate physical (or this case aural) body but still very much the same living creature.
Some might find the new record completely un-listenable, and that’s to be expected, because it is not an “easy” album. “Dowsing Anemone with Copper Tongue” is an immensely progressive and bizarre piece of music that upon numerous sessions of complete focus can become a truly rewarding experience.
How to begin with this review? After reading this, i'm sure a lot of you are probably gonna think i'm the 'METAL ONLY' type of guy with no 'diverse' and 'open-minded' tastes in music as some would say, but don't get me wrong, I am a big lover of post/indie rock, noise rock, avant-garde and all other weirdies in between. 'Dowsing Anemone with Copper Tongue' is the second full-length from 'Avant' metal band Kayo Dot, and having 3 full-lengths under the name MOTW. Just before listening to this album, my bullshit radar immediately flashed. Huge line-up and very fucking arrogant titles (Amaranth the Peddler. seriously, what the fuck? I don't care how many drugs, or how 'arty' you think you are, that's a fucking GAY title). Well, after all that bullshit, I decided to spin the album and try to leave these (un)comforting prejudices aside. 'Gemini Becoming the Tripod' kicks things off, and for some reason it's EXACTLY how I thought it would sound - long, boring, uninspired, trying to create an interesting atmosphere but failing at it on almost every level. There's a riff near the end, but that's not enough to cover the 8 minutes of your life that you'll never get back. The loud and obnoxious instrumentation creates a post-rock atmosphere, plus arrogance, more random bullshit and whatnot. Instead of creating repetitive trance-inducing atmosphere (like certain black metal bands), or calming, soothing drones (like some drone bands), the stuff here is 80% filler, 15% avant-riff bullshit and 5% of good stuff.
Seriously, what the fuck? The second song, 'Immortelle And Paper Caravelle' (I know, it's hard not to laugh at the titles). I waited forever for it to start. Thing is it doesn't start. You can skip to almost anywhere in this song and what you'll hear is near-silence. It's nearly 10 minutes long too. Yes, I know, as 'open-minded' asshats would say, this is 'grower' music, but trust me, I can tell the difference between bullshit 'avant' music and actually grower music, stuff that has a certain level of complexity. 'Aura On An Asylum Wall' is the strongest song here (or should I say, the song that doesn't suck as much as the rest), despite having some random-as-all-fuck lyrics and a considerable amount of filler. 'On Limpid Form', the longest track (and supposedly the 'highlight), drags on for 18 fucking minutes. Eighteen. There's a few good moments (I'd say maybe a minute and a half of that), but it's usually just trying to be noise. Yeah, I said it. They try to be that noisy post-rock band that tries to be 'noise'. This isn't actual noise. Noise is stuff like Merzbow, Borbetomagus, Government Alpha etc. Not randomly plucking your instrument with that asian art chick that listens to indie rock and wears purple highliner and dies her hair pink (which, if you haven't realized it yet, is what Kayo Dot is all about).
So, verdict? No matter how 'avant', 'indie', 'arty', 'original' or 'open-minded' you try to be, there's no enjoying of this album. I'd like to thank Opeth and misunderstanding of the 'avant-garde' term for breeding this monster that creates scenester kids. You know, that kid who walks around campus with a Pelican or Opeth shirt, arrogant look, and who's probably gonna end up writing a book about music and spirituality and...ok, i'll stop that for now. This is arrogant, over-the-top, 'noisy, and last but definitely not least boring music. Don't get it. Download it if you want, but whipe the dust off you delete button before you do.