johnny of the Well

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Last Active 10-17-14 9:25 am
Joined 05-29-11

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Kayo Dot Ranked

I was going to rank every Kayo song with descriptions but don't have the time, so here's the next best thing. Enjoy.
1Kayo Dot
Choirs of the Eye

I doubt that anyone reading this list would be surprised by the position of Choirs at the top, and I don't feel obliged to defend it. The sheer power, beauty, scale, structure and emotion of this album are barely believable and it can be listened to again and again without losing its strength. There are hundreds of small details that add a vast amount too it (see: the short horn solo in Marathon, just before it breaks off into ambiance), but each track here is a behemoth in its own right. The Antique is still the best closer to any album I have yet to hear and stands as Kayo Dot's greatest composition, whilst The Manifold Curiosity will always be hailed as a song of rare beauty, ambition and might. 4.9/5
2Kayo Dot
Dowsing Anemone With Copper Tongue

In my opinion, Dowsing is Kayo's subtlest album. It has a few powerful climaxes, but they are not the focus of the album - that focus is the album's sparse, beautiful approach. I wrote a long review on how it toys with evolution and devolution and eventually embraces the latter with surprisingly peaceful results, and I find that 'concept', or main theme, more powerful than Hubardo's epic tale of the poet and the meteor, despite its lack of substance. Absolutely nothing on Dowsing is rushed, even the chaotic outro of Gemini Becoming the Tripod or the thrilling build in Aura on an Asylum wall; the album drifts along at its own pace and is much the better for it. Literally my only problem (even if it is a 12 minute-size one) is that the closing section of ___On Limpid Form is just too fricking much. 4.5/5
3Kayo Dot

Ranking this beast of an album at #3 was not easy, but I'll explain why with #2. Hubardo is arguably the most ambitious project released thus far by any Toby Driver project; almost 100 minutes of music that is a dense as one might expect from KD is not an easy listen, and although Hubardo is without filler, its expansiveness is somewhat overpowering for me and is therefore one of the factors holding it back from position #2. However, the music here really is extraordinary. It feels like Toby examined certain vibes from Gamma Knife and took them to a whole new level - Hubardo is heavy as hell and absolutely beautiful in places. The final three tracks seem to focus on neither and are possibly the most interesting and compelling to be found here (aside from album highlight, Zlida Caosgi). Hubardo is monolithic to a degree that is hard to absorb, but is ultimately one of KD's greater achievements. 4.4/5
4Kayo Dot
Blue Lambency Downward

Possibly their most controversial album, BLD rejects almost all heaviness in favour of uneasy soundscapes and a much jazzier sound. While some would like to pretend the three albums released between Dowsing and Hubardo had never existed, I both enjoy them in themselves and think they show exactly how multidimensional a project Kayo Dot is. Blue Lambency Downward is the strongest of these albums and evokes a whole range of feelings within the spectra of nostalgia and tension. The last three songs are particularly powerful, and Symmetrical Arizona remains my second favourite Kayo song. My problems with the album mainly center around the title track (bar the excellent opening minute) and The Sow Submits, which fail to generate atmospheres as engaging and captivating as the rest of the album does. 4.1/5
5Kayo Dot
Coffins on Io

Kayo's most recent outing is a little more immediate than I expected. They display their influences much more openly and whilst it still sounds very much like a Kayo Dot album, I find Coffins less distinctively original than anything else the band has released. Additionally, there are some sections here that go on for too damn long (the outros of Offramp Cycle and Library Subterranean, and the saxophone solo in the somewhat underwhelming closer Spirit Photography). Fortunately, the sexy 80s driving-at-night vibe is utilised nicely enough to hold the album together and some songs (The Mortality of Doves, the first half of Library Subterranean, The Assassination of Adam) are just fantastic. 3.91/5
6Kayo Dot
Gamma Knife

I really really like this album. It's peculiar, short and bewildering in a way that makes it just as charming (take with a pinch of salt) as it is disturbing. The beautiful bookends of Lethe and Gamma Knife (top 10 Kayo without a doubt) contrasts wonderfully with the black metal/woodwind hellfest in the middle. My slight complaints are that the middle section is a little too confusing for its own good, and that the album's length prevents it from reaching the heights of the band's strongest albums, but this is still excellent. 3.9/5
7Kayo Dot

KD's darkest album is, unsurprisingly, their least accessible. I can count the moments I would describe as 'pleasant' on one hand, and although that's not really the point, it certainly doesn't boost Coyote's replay value. My main gripe is that although there is a vast amount of emotion behind this album, only a limited amount actually gets transferred. That said, the abyssally bleak atmosphere is as strong a soundscape as any Toby Driver as produced and I still find myself haunted by it. 3.6/5
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