Three Album Reviews – Kayo Dot, Lotus Thief, Schneider/Kacirek

Kayo Dot, Coffins on Io

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The essence of Kayo Dot’s appeal is to challenge the audience, and to do so from needle drop. The opening track on the Boston band’s recently released Coffins On Io “The Mortality of Doves” is soft and sedate, thoroughly moody, built around drowned out vocals and almost gentle percussion. The track, after nearly twelve minutes merely suggests. Which is why it is so damn appealing.

The band sticks to these transgressive guns, tracks like “Longtime Disturbance On The Miracle Mile” and the jazz flavored “Spirit Photography” never really pushing the needly off the dreamy narrative into anything fierce, let alone urgent. There are a few power-based tracks, “The Assassination of Adam” and the very coolly titled, “Library Subterranean” but these are true post-rock/post-metal masterpieces. They resonate with shades of power but reveal themselves as airy, lumbering giants.

The eighth record released by Kayo Dot since 1996, Coffins On Io is their first since last year’s Hubardo, an ambitious double concept album self-released and funded by founder and frontman, Toby Driver. Perhaps the most endearing aspect of Kayo Dot, on obvious display here over these eight tracks, is their sheer ambition, melding seemingly diverging aspects of free fusion jazz, metal with conceptual and art rock traces. The dark metal/dark wave genre hybrid cannot be accused of stagnation with Driver and his turbulent outfit.

Want to read more about Kayo Dot and their new LP? Check out their site.

Lotus Thief, Rervm

lotus-thief-rervm-front-coverHeads or tails, heads or tails. I don’t quite know what to make of Rervm from San Francisco “text metal” (their term, not mine) duo Lotus Thief. The band, Bezaelith and Otrebor strive for heady spins on stoner metal but ultimately, I’m not sure their brand satisfies.

The bedrock of Lotus Thief’s sound on Rervm are heavy guitar chords, and the first two tracks (“Aeturnvm” and “Miseras”) each almost nine minutes length contain some gut churning material. There is a solid, visceral quality strongly at play. It’s everything else around that which leaves me pale. The songs are ambitiously long, but tail off two and three minutes before the end, space filled with sound effects exterior to the music. I’m not devotee of growling (or even necessarily male) vocals but the bulk of this album relies on heavily affected, choral styled female vocals. They are hard to understand and the mix feels stilted in such a way that I feel as though I’m supposed to get some meaning from them.

They manage to bring out variety in some bright guitars on “Lvx” and there is some unity between haunting and daunting on “Discere Credas” but the sum total of Rervm leaves me looking down the iTunes library looking for something with real heft and craft.

Learn more about the band and the album at their website.

Stefan Schneider & Sven Kacirek Shadow Documents

artworks-000095484949-y2o8lm-t500x500My recent taste in electronic tends toward sparse ambient work, built around minimal beats. Perhaps that’s just the season.

The work Stefan Schneider and Sven Kacirek have collaborated on in Shadow Documents isn’t quite so languid as I’ve preferred lately. There is an itchiness at play throughout the nine tracks, giving off the feeling of a European night club passing off the witching hours.

That said, this is really sophisticated, densely layered material that is worthy of repeat, immersive listens. The beat heavy tracks (inspired heavily by the duo’s Goethe Institute funded trip to Kenya) feature nuanced hooks, creating an odd interrelation between tracks. “Doubles” the album’s first song creeps along, laying out its foreboding sense through rich synthesizer pulses and high end percussion; the next track, “Hand An Wand” picks up right where it’s predecessor trailed off, as though each is simply another step out from the center. The most complete, mature track is “Talwerk” a sort of culmination where the whole marauding sensibility finally comes home to roost.

Ultimately though, I am forced to the conclusion that Shadow Documents. The record compels and the production is spectacular but it all feels a little too focused on gadgets, less organic elements making it unable to breath where I really need it to breath.

Check out more about Shadow Documents including how to get a copy at Bureau B records.

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