Kayo Dot
Plastic House on Base of Sky


4.0
excellent

Review

by Benjamin Kuettel STAFF
June 28th, 2016 | 599 replies


Release Date: 2016 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The music of Plastic House on Base of Sky is unique and exciting due to oceanic synthesizers and a vibrant sci-fi atmosphere, sounding like it came from the far reaches of space or some distant future on earth.

Kayo Dot is intent on never falling into stagnation or predictability; subverting expectations is how the band works fundamentally. Frontman Toby Driver and his collaborators never make the same album twice, frequently changing everything about how the previous record sounded. This time around, Driver once again shifts his musical focus after the success of avant-garde metal masterpiece Hubardo and its completely different sounding sci-fi influenced follow-up Coffins on Io one year later.

Kayo Dot's musical style molds into something new once again while sounding like a logical follow-up to the more relaxing, just as excellent Coffins on Io. Plastic House on Base of Sky (PHOBOS, one of the moons of Mars) harnesses pop songwriting perfectly, immersing the listener in eccentric, alien compositions thanks to lush synthesizer tones and complex rhythms only faintly reminiscent of the band's past.

The organization of Plastic House... is one of its strongest elements. There are only five songs, the first four being dense, immersive epics that each flirt with a pop song format. Make no mistake that this is only on the surface, as the actual songwriting is highly adventurous and leans toward the avant-garde far more than the mainstream. This is the main similarity the album shares with Coffins on Io, as it also emphasized catchier melodies and choruses than the band's previous records.

Plastic House... sounds more psychedelic and abstract than its predecessor, with surreal keyboards and melodramatic singing (in a good way) by Driver drawing on the styles of Coffins on Io but raising the stakes to frenetic heights. The future-noir atmosphere from Coffins on Io is expanded upon, and the lyrical themes are fitting for Driver’s eccentric vocal delivery as he explores an unsavory Orwellian nightmare.

Album opener “Amalia’s Theme” carries a mystical tone as it tells the story of a female oracle in a dystopian future. This may be the character depicted on the album cover. Themes like these throughout Plastic House... are reminiscent of science fiction films like Blade Runner, Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior, and Total Recall. The retro-future noir vibes are brought to life by synthesizers that sound straight out of the 1980s or '90s.

Vibrant synthesizers build to massive climaxes within “All The Pain in All the Wide World” and “Magnetism.” The former begins as a lush slice of electronica before descending into an oddly timed middle section of strange electronic sounds and echoed vocals. It is one of the most bizarre passages of music the band have recorded, sounding like it could be the soundtrack for traveling through a wormhole. Some might think the song borders on self-indulgence as each minute goes on, but it works, and the first half of the song is a band highlight.

“Magnetism” features a high-pitched droning synth pattern over keyboard layers and frantic percussion during the otherworldly chorus: Driver sings of drug-addled wastelanders in alien cities, perhaps here on earth in a far distant, unfamiliar future. The evocative, spatial “Rings of Earth” follows, where Driver hauntingly sings of satellites circulating like vultures around dying worlds. Apocalyptic keyboards and pounding drums accentuate the death knell outro. After these four main epics, the dust settles on the mellow “Brittle Urchin,” a tranquil, reflective closer with beautiful guitar work.

Some will find Kayo Dot's latest difficult to digest before the quieter closing song. It is a demanding listen, but while it carries much of the challenging, unconventional aspects one can expect from a Kayo Dot record, there is still a highly melodic nature and even a catchiness at times that makes for an engrossing listening experience. Each listen yields fresh discoveries, particularly with the role of guitars adding to the rich, atmospheric keyboard tones and off-kilter rhythms.

It is rewarding to follow a band that consistently surprises their listeners with every work of art they produce, and Kayo Dot remain esoteric and cryptic while making detail-oriented, memorable songs. Plastic House on Base of Sky is a perfect example of how rewarding Kayo Dot can be, as evolved and mesmerizing as always.



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user ratings (239)
Chart.
3.5
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
TalonsOfFire
Staff Reviewer
June 27th 2016


17848 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Stream here: http://noisey.vice.com/en_au/blog/kayo-dot-plastic-house-on-base-of-sky-stream



Thanks to Gameofmetal for proofreading



EDIT: This review has since been cleaned up and heavily edited, as I had accidentally submitted a first draft.

Digging: Thom Yorke - Suspiria

Asdfp277
June 27th 2016


19184 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

dece album

TVC15
June 27th 2016


9817 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

oh cool

Digging: Therapy? - Infernal Love

Frippertronics
Staff Reviewer
June 27th 2016


18019 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

LP listen to Blue Lambency Downward

Digging: Ichiko Aoba - QP

TVC15
June 27th 2016


9817 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

I really should huh. Kayo Dot's discog is really intimidating to go thru tho...

Jasdevi087
June 27th 2016


5352 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Also listen to all of their albums

Jasdevi087
June 27th 2016


5352 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

may I ask what in the ever loving fuck about this makes it a 1.5 for you and not a 1?

Relinquished
June 27th 2016


38410 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

no don't, it won't do your brain any good



sach's right sans rating

JohnnyOnTheSpot
Staff Reviewer
June 27th 2016


6676 Comments


what makes it a 4.5 for you and not a 5 or a 4?
I'm guessing Sach likes this more than the albums he 1s and less than the ones he 2s.
(a simpler explanation than what he'll likely respond with, so)

Jasdevi087
June 27th 2016


5352 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

no, I asked the question

Frippertronics
Staff Reviewer
June 27th 2016


18019 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

I wouldn't worry, he actually doesn't listen to these albums

Asdfp277
June 27th 2016


19184 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

opinions

TalonsOfFire
Staff Reviewer
June 27th 2016


17848 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

I don't think the language I use is reminiscent of a thesaurus, which I only ever use when I need to avoid repetition. All the descriptions I came up with off the top of my head, and not that you have to like it, but this is just my writing style.

Asdfp277
June 27th 2016


19184 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

ur writing style is not havin a writing style tho

Relinquished
June 27th 2016


38410 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

don't even say it's your style, that cements it in your head and you and everyone still have their way to evolve in all types of style and flow



be better than that asfpdfeweqbqou cuz 1) I'm drunk and your name is still lame and 2) this dude is cool to criticism from what I see

iloveyouall
June 28th 2016


6319 Comments


jspot got it in one tbh.

Asdfp277
June 28th 2016


19184 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

style is a difficult thing imo, but ur already at that level so gotta push up one more



idk it's like, i know when a review is a knott- review, even w/o his name on it, and that's ur personal style

Asdfp277
June 28th 2016


19184 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

and yea talons is cool

Artuma
June 28th 2016


29866 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

futures giving some on-point constructive criticism here, you better take notes talons

Digging: Daughters - You Won't Get What You Want

JohnnyOnTheSpot
Staff Reviewer
June 28th 2016


6676 Comments


i have a couple tipsies

- don't ~force~ intros. it's really common for newish writers to use some really cliche intro and slot it into their reviews; and, the obvious problem with this is, eventually, you run out of these. so just don't do it. honestly, it's better to awkwardly jump into song descriptions than to waste the reader's time with boring, long-winded analogies that aren't relevant to anything.
- don't stuff sentences. ask yourself, "are any of these words unnecessary? could i say this more concisely? do i repeat myself?" example: "They never make the same album twice, usually changing everything about how the previous record sounded unapologetically. - you basically said this earlier in the same paragraph. really, all the intro does is point out how Kayo Dot like to mix things up. you could make some minor adjustments to your second paragraph and just delete the first paragraph entirely.
- there's nothing wrong IMO with showing off some vocabulary; but, be careful that it flows naturally, still. i've had this issue in the past, and it's taken me quite a lot of practice to sort out. lines like "Along with the engaging, bizarre electronics, lyrics are expectedly esoteric." feel stilted.



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