Ten years into its uncompromising career Toby Driver has led Kayo Dot boldly through albums of intense complexity, raw aggression mixed with a delicate fragility which only heightens their ability to carve menacing abstract compositions that challenge attention span yet contain moments of jaw dropping high quality.
Urgent brass accompanied by tense fretwork and Driver’s deranged ranting makes discordant parts of ‘Vision Adjustment to Another Wavelength’ a harrowing cacophonous experience. The music is wantonly complex and overtly technical yet it is its ability to through curveball each time which makes you press on. The sweet flute playing of Daniel Meads gives the aforementioned number an elegance and grace many purveyors of extremity sorely lack.
Driver’s death grunt over opener ‘The Black Stone’ feels far too intense for the music it accompanies yet Kayo Dot’s arrangements flow very naturally for the most part. No mean feat considering the ninety plus minutes of chaos this meticulously crafted leviathan drags you through while referencing everyone from Gorguts to Talk Talk.
The sheer unpredictability of it all is a joy to revel in. With songs averaging a minimum of eight minutes, this is a dense and challenging journey into art-house macabre but there are moments of transcendent beauty like ‘The Second Operation (Lunar Water)’ which shatter that mould.
Desolate saxophone accompanies angelic voices and the eerie narrative of Driver. Shifting from crushing technicality to blissful indie rock within a blink of an eye isn’t easy. Recalling the hazy jazz escapades of latter day Radiohead before ‘Floodgate’ pummels your brain with Keith Abrams visceral blasts and layer upon layer of vocal histrionics.
Always eclectic Kayo Dot succeeds in seamlessly blending the terrifying with the tranquil in a manner which almost defies description. The free jazz technicality prog rock ambience, fragile tenderness and vehement blasts of impenetrable art noise all flow throughout this often magnificent double album. There are moments of utter pretentiousness but it’s this resistance to conform which marks Kayo Dot out as a true maverick act who have finally produced a defining statement of their art.