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The Metamorphosis of Kayo Dot - 95%

Redsparowes88, January 16th, 2006

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.