Kayo Dot
Gamma Knife


3.5
great

Review

by Eli Kleman EMERITUS
January 5th, 2012 | 63 replies | 13,808 views


Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: For the first time in years, Kayo Dot feels musically relevant.

Gamma Knife is the latest from everyone’s favorite NYC experimental band, featuring the mastermind Toby Driver, as well as some returning members, including violinist Mia Matsumiya. For many, the band has seemingly hit a creative speed bump, with more recent releases lacking consistency and cohesion. Gamma Knife is refreshing in that it feels a bit more well thought out, and more finely executed. It goes without saying that this album is in no way a return to Choirs of the Eye, however, as Driver himself has stated that the band has since moved on from that sound, and is content with dabbling in other areas of the musical realm. And really, this isn’t shocking, as every single Kayo Dot release is starkly different it predecessors. Interestingly, Gamma Knife sort of bucks that trend a bit, and sees the return of a more metal influenced sound, somewhat in the vein of maudlin of the Well. But per the usual, this is much unlike the rest of the band’s discography, standing out as wholly unique.

The album is noticeably shorter than most other Kayo Dot releases. The band made a conscious decision to cut the length in exchange for less time in between material, and it paid off in spades. That isn’t to say that Gamma Knife is lacking, for the condensed nature of the album as made it virtually filler free, something that detracted a lot from Coyote, as well as Blue Lambency Downward. The three middle songs display the band’s newer, more metal influenced direction. Filled with growls and crushing guitars, they feel much in the vein of songs like “They Aren’t All Beautiful” and “_on Limpid Form.” “Rite of Goetic Revocation” is the strongest representation of Gamma Knife, blending dense, frenetic, and menacing sounds with that certain Kayo Dot flair. But it’s the beginning and end songs that standout. “Lenthe” and the title track are much mellower, lacking any metal influence, with a large emphasis on atmosphere and minimalism. They are effective as both an introduction and an epilogue; the calm before and after the storm.

Yet as with almost every Kayo Dot release, inconsistency rears its ugly head. While much of the record is an absolute delight, the middle section sees a dip in quality. Once more the band indulges in free-jazz wankery, albeit this time with a noticeable dip in production. It sounds slightly muddled, with the three middle tracks melting into a giant blurry mess. Saxophone cries over Drivers distant and murky vocals, while the rest of the instruments vary in clarity. It doesn’t detract too much from the overall product, but when agonized and grating vocals blare over a goofy sounding wind instrument, it definitely feels like a missed opportunity at greatness.

Gamma Knife, for all its quirks and inconsistencies, is still a pretty damn fine record. For the first time in years, Kayo Dot feels like a bankable act and a relevant one to boot. If you’ve been anxiously waiting for Choirs of the Eye pt. 2, then you’re going to have to keep waiting. But for those who’ve embraced the band-eccentricities and all-then Gamma Knife will be a very welcome addition to the Kayo Dot discography.



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great
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Xenophanes
Emeritus
January 5th 2012



10553 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Of course I was going to review this

Digging: Saintseneca - Dark Arc

Yazz_Flute
January 5th 2012



18735 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

It was fun having the only review for a day.

Nice work though, only thing is it's "Mia Matsumiya"

I basically agree with the whole review though, I was obviously just more enamored with the initial kvltness of the middle three songs haha.

Digging: Anekdoten - Vemod

FadedSun
January 6th 2012



1146 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Agree about the middle section sounding muddled.

Is it true that they were forced to record some of this live because they couldn't afford a true recording? I find that hard to believe. I thought they were trying to do something new by recording it live and trying to make it sound like it wasn't.

NeutralThunder12
January 6th 2012



8742 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

choirs and dowsing were great. unfortunately everything after ranges from insanely boring to ok. Its all beautifully composed stuff but some of it doesn't work at all. I love Driver though, everyone should def check out his solo album its excellent

Ire
January 6th 2012



41454 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Good review, Eli. I'm about to listen to this.

Xenophanes
Emeritus
January 6th 2012



10553 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Thanks mang, I'm decently sure you'll at least enjoy parts of it

Ire
January 6th 2012



41454 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This is great so far. wtf

Irving
Staff Reviewer
January 6th 2012



7011 Comments


Solid review Eli - I pos-ed. However, you really don't need that first paragraph - starting off with "Gamma Knife is the latest from everyone’s favorite NYC experimental band, featuring the mastermind Toby Driver... would have been perfectly fine. Moreover, the very personal angle on the opening paragraph really drags and - forgive me - talks more about yourself than the album. Frankly, most folks simply aren't interested in any of that.

One minor niggle which I managed to spot: But it’s the beginning and end songs that standout (include a space after "stand"). Aside from those this is pretty much all good though!



Digging: Pixies - Indie Cindy

Ire
January 6th 2012



41454 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

production is so great on this

Yazz_Flute
January 6th 2012



18735 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Ramy you like this what the fuck.

And yeah, the drummer kills it. I was going to mention that earlier.

Scoot
January 6th 2012



17486 Comments


The meet-in-the-middle attack uses a space–time tradeoff to find the cryptographic key in only 2n + 1 encryptions (and O(2n) space) versus the expected 22n encryptions (but only O(1) space) of the naive attack.

Adash
January 6th 2012



1356 Comments


free jazz wankery that ain't relevant?

Once again I feel the urge to attempt a refutation of yet another overly harsh and cruel scathing indictment of poor old Toby and co. ; ]

You done me wrong

reaganomics777
January 6th 2012



401 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

"nce more the band indulges in the aforementioned free-jazz wankery."

Rofl. Bad review got even worse from here.

FadedSun
January 6th 2012



1146 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

I don't really understand the obsession with constantly stating the band's relevancy. Why would they not be relevant because you didn't like a couple albums?

Xenophanes
Emeritus
January 6th 2012



10553 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Solid review Eli - I pos-ed. However, you really don't need that first paragraph - starting off with "Gamma Knife is the latest from everyone’s favorite NYC experimental band, featuring the mastermind Toby Driver... would have been perfectly fine. Moreover, the very personal angle on the opening paragraph really drags and - forgive me - talks more about yourself than the album. Frankly, most folks simply aren't interested in any of that.

One minor niggle which I managed to spot: But it’s the beginning and end songs that standout (include a space after "stand"). Aside from those this is pretty much all good though!





Thanks Irving! After re-reading it, I did decide to remove the more personal aspects. I was really digging it while writing it, but after looking over it again it was cripplingly boring.



Xenophanes
Emeritus
January 6th 2012



10553 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

I don't really understand the obsession with constantly stating the band's relevancy. Why would they not be relevant because you didn't like a couple albums?


Constant=/=twice

Kayo Dot used to be a fairly big band to talk about. Not just here, but for a lot of sites and other people. But now I've noticed they get little attention, and no one seems to give to shits about the band. THeir albums are released to little fanfare, and few discuss them afterwards. Idk it's just my interpretation of their career. Besides, I have bothe Coyote and Blue Lambency at 3. I assume you're one of those users who thinks anything below a 4 is 'bad'?

Tyrael
January 6th 2012



20402 Comments


Good review Xeno

it's good to see you getting back on your feet

Digging: Lantlos - Melting Sun

Xenophanes
Emeritus
January 6th 2012



10553 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

When was I off of my feet ;_;

FadedSun
January 6th 2012



1146 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

"I assume you're one of those users who thinks anything below a 4 is 'bad'?"

I don't think anything below a 4 is bad since I have rated albums below 4, but I've seen you mention their relevancy before when Coyote came out. I guess I missed the Kayo Dot party because I found out about them much later.

Xenophanes
Emeritus
January 6th 2012



10553 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Yeah, and I like I said, it's more than sputnik who doesn't really talk about them anymore. But to use sputnik as an example, I remember not being able to avoid hearing about Choirs, but nowadays its rarely mentioned. But as I said, that's just my interpretation of their current status.



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