starts out unexpectedly, to say the least, with the already legendary “cookie monster” growls that appear to last an eternity. It’s important. Thematically and lyrically it’s a necessary piece of the entire, bulging work. Seeping with the existential babble of a man who gives no ***s almost two decades into his career, Hubardo
is stands as Toby Diver’s most unwelcoming and complex work yet. All this is even before you dig into the music, which in itself is quite an exercise in patience. Lasting nearly an hour and a half and spanning two discs, the album has the makings for a superficial sprawling epic. This being something Kayo Dot has not delivered in quite some time. As a celebration of an entire decade of Kayo Dot, Hubardo
is an immense success. Playing off of last year’s excellent Gamma Knife
the album is a triumphant return to the expressly metal influences of Toby Driver’s earlier projects. More importantly, it is a return to the brilliantly composed and expertly performed pieces that have been absent for far too long.
starts off interestingly enough with “The Black Stone” and thankfully continues that trend throughout. It’s been a rocky road for the avant-garde darlings, as previous albums have tried so deftly to adhere to a certain aesthetic but always came up short. Hubardo
bucks this with a brilliantly cohesive work that goes all over the place while still retaining a sense of conservatism. Songs make sense here. The way the album progresses is very logical. When calling to mind the chaotic Blue Lambency Dowsing
, these notions are a breath of fresh air. “Crown in the Muck” starts of mellow enough, with lightly strummed guitar notes paving the way for a progressively maddening piece. By the time Driver comes in screaming the song has already evolved into a maddening fury of guitar and crashing cymbals. Not one to fall into a trap of mediocrity, Driver ensures that the next song “Thief” presents the listener with an entirely new experience. Featuring a jazzier delivery, the song is a quicker and more direct piece than the previous one. Ending as spastically as it began, “Thief” hearkens back to “The Manifold Curiosity,” with a mellower section bisecting the sonic bombardments.
Much of Hubardo
is spent creating a barrage of hellish sounds with leaving the listener little time to catch their breath. It’s refreshing to hear the band sounds so alive. “Zlida Caosgi (To Water the Earth)” is emblematic of this direction. It’s rapid and to the point, hitting hard with a bold sound that mixes the best of their jazz and metal sounds. But Kayo Dot are not afraid to reserve themselves a little bit. Admittedly the album’s more ethereal tracks are oddly placed (back to back in the middle of the record) but are an incredibly welcome addition. Both “The First Matter” and “The Second Operation” are sparse yet effective. The former is a hazy feedback laden song that brings to mind the eeriness of Toby’s side projects. Conversely, “The Second Operation” signals a return of the haunting beauty of Choirs of the Eye
. With Mia Matsumia back in top form, the song stands as the most emotional evocative piece on the entire album. With a mixed chorus backing Driver’s crooning voice, it sounds as close to “Immortelle and Paper Caravelle” as we have ever gotten. But it is “And He Built Him A Boat” that steals the show, combining the best parts of Hubardo
into one incredible piece of music. Featuring the boldness of confidence of songs like “Thief,” and the beauty of “The Second Operation,” the selection ranks among the band’s best. It’s predictably melodramatic, reeking of the pretentious cheese that we’ve come to love from Kayo Dot.
is a triumphant celebration and a career height for a band once thrown to the wayside. Kayo Dot have reigned in their more confounding ambitions and focused their creative energy into a tight and brilliant album. Filled to the brim with everything that has made the band such a force in the world of experimental music, Hubardo
is an immense and challenging record not to be missed.