Toby Driver is quite possibly the most inconsistent man in music today. Between bouts of sheer brilliance, Driver still manages to be hit or miss, with more recent releases falling into the latter category. Yet this man, whose musical resume resembles an enigmatic mixture of madness and genius, still manages to captivate me, even in his most uninspired and tepid moments. Maybe it’s the appeal of hearing something I’ve never heard before, as Driver is apt to deliver a new experience with every listen, or maybe, it’s because every release is a true form of artistic expression, encompassing everything that is, and has been, Toby Driver. Perhaps this sentiment is contrived, but regardless, Kayo Dot’s newest EP ,Stained Glass
, stirs up every conflicting feeling I have ever had about the band, as well as Driver.
is an ambitious long form composition, with a run time of about twenty minutes. It’s musically conceptual, capturing felicity, agony, and convalescence within several movements. However, these transitions in mood are not as seamless as one would hope, because at about the six minute mark there is a rather jarring transition. However, for the most part, these separate movements ebb decently well into each other, making for one of Kayo Dot’s more cohesive listens. But regardless of how well they meld together, the moodiness is the crux of Stained Glass
. Following in the footsteps of 2010’s Coyote
, Stained Glass
manages to be incredibly dark, gloomy, and morose. Yet unlike their previous effort, this EP doesn’t rely on bombastic movements of goth-rock intertwined with avant-garde, but rather, it works because of the melancholy ambiance and soundscaping. It’s more low key than their past two releases, feeling like a marriage between Dowsing Anemone With Copper Tongue
and Blue Lambency Downward
. Arguably this sounds less than desirable, but it genuinely works well, as the better aspects of both albums are represented well.
opens up with a lot of wind in its sails, with a menacing yet beautiful vocal segment performed by Toby Driver. The inclusion of vibraphonist Russell Greenburg adds an indelible amount of atmosphere as well, and the heavier emphasis on guitar is truly welcome. Yet it seems after brilliant first nine minutes, Stained Glass
loses a bit of steam. The EP spirals into an ambient, droning segment, lasting for several minutes, which unfortunately kills the pace and flow. Luckily this doesn’t last too incredibly long, as Kayo Dot manage to salvage the remainder of the EP, and finish out very strong.
For those who have been disappointed with the more recent releases of Kayo Dot, Stained Glass
might be just the thing to revitalize your interest in the band. While it doesn’t come out completely unscathed from all of the things that have been plaguing the band as of late, the EP is a breath of fresh air, and a testament to what Toby Driver can do when he gets his head out of his ass.