KAYO DOT - Gamma Knife

Kayo Dot - Gamma Knife

5 songs
30:36 minutes
***** ****
(self released)


Having moved from Tzadik over Robotic Empire to Hydra Head, Kayo Dot have always had quality labels releasing their extraordinary music. They even were signed for quite a few records on their last album, but have now decided to publish their new album by themselves. Maybe their new direction is too bizarre to be represented by any possible music company…

Since their first album nearly ten years ago, this virtuoso collective from the American East Coast has done their own thing from the start. At first they played some adventurous kind of avant prog metal, then became quiet if not more accessible with each record, but now they seem to feel comfortable once again to incorporate noisy elements into their material. The band is still led by Toby Driver who is in charge of vocals, guitar, bass and keyboards, and he is joined by the usual cast of high-profile musicians: Keith Abrams (Time Of Orchids, PAK) and David Bodie (Time Of Orchids) on drums and percussion, Mia Matsumiya (Gregor Samsa) on violin, Tim Byrnes (PAK, Candiria, Friendly Bears) on mellotron bells and not his usual trumpet, Terran Olson (Autumn Tears) and Daniel Means on alto sax.

The CD starts with Lethe, an introspective and mellow piece led by Tim Byrnes’ strange yet appealing mellotron bells, while Toby Driver’s vocals have a certain monk-like quality. The next three tracks (Rite Of Goetic Evocation; Mirror Water, Lightning Night; Ocellated God) are some of the wildest material I have heard from this band in a long time, maybe ever. I have been listening to these pieces now already quite a few times, and still it’s next to impossible to come up with words. The guitar is off to noisy territory, the drums and percussion are freewheeling like there is no tomorrow, the double sax attack adds a shrieking free jazz mood, while the vocals range from the usual clean ones to pure evil black metal screams. Gamma Knife ends with the title track, another quiet, piano and guitar accompanied piece that concludes this record in the same mood it started.

Although labelled a full length release, Gamma Knife is a little on the short side with its half hour length. The songs are all between five and seven minutes long, so you also won’t get those epically long tracks the band did in the past. Apart from that, there is no reason to feel dismay, as the low selling price of only 5$ should encourage every fan of risky avant-garde rock/metal music to check out this compelling piece of art. Imagine The Mars Volta jamming with Van Der Graaf Generator, and you’re not even half way there. What a great way to start the new year with amazing music!

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