Words About Music
Kayo Dot “Hubardo”
Over the past 50 years or so, the world of avant-garde music has been dominated by several key figures. One could definitely make cases for Frank Zappa, Mike Patton, Scott Walker, Merzbow, Lou Reed, Yoko Ono, John Zorn, Tyondai Braxton, and several more musicians as some of the most important that avant-garde has ever seen. But one that seems to not get mentioned as much is Toby Driver, who was part of one of the most groundbreaking heavy metal group in recent history, maudlin of the Well. maudlin of the Well broke up in 2003, which resulted in Toby Driver forming Kayo Dot, who has remained fairly consistent in releases, even through an eventual maudlin reunion. Kayo Dot’s music has combined black metal, progressive rock, postmodern classical music, art rock, chamber music, post rock, and other avant-garde styles, and usually dabbles in several musical styles on an album. In fact, stylistically speaking, Kayo Dot have never been very musically consistent. They’re experimental in the purest sense. However, with their seventh album “Hubardo” comes a sense of consistency even when they jump from heavy metal to jazz.
To be perfectly honest, I have not been very familiar with Kayo Dot or maudlin of the Well for a very long time. It was only recently that I learned the name Toby Driver. But after hearing “Hubardo,” I can tell you that this will not be the last time I enjoy an album from Toby. “Hubardo” is truly unlike any heavy metal experience you will have this year. There’s a lot of King Crimson influence here, especially with the woodwind additions to the softer parts of this album. The first few minutes of “Crown-In-The-Muck” almost sound like they could be on a King Crimson record, or maybe a Dream Theater record if Dream Theater decided to be good all of a sudden. The entire album is poetic and creepy and is so packed full of different genres that it can be hard to make heads or tails of after one listen.
Now keep in mind, this album is 100 minutes long. That’s about five minutes longer than The Knife’s “Shaking The Habitual,” and 20 minutes shorter than Autechre’s “Exai.” And this isn’t an album that’s easy to listen to. It’s cacophonous, angry, and simply overbearing at times. “Hubardo” is definitely an album you listen to at your own risk, although I do highly recommend it. I can understand why some would call it pretentious, but to me it’s just a lengthy, odd, difficult piece of art. It’s also extremely cohesive all things considered.
Maybe what I like about “Hubardo” is that it’s so over the top. There isn’t any real reason for a saxophone to be soloing on top of a barrage of heavy metal riffage, but it happens several times anyway, and why not? Kayo Dot seem to pride themselves on making difficult music that changes itself up a lot. It’s sort of like the opposite of Swans’ “The Seer.” Sure they’re both lengthy and overbearing, but Swans pride themselves on their ability to terrify you with Michael Gira’s voice and lyrics, while Kayo Dot look to terrify you with the schizophrenic horns and polyrhythmic drums. It’s a little bit self-indulgent I suppose, but there’s not much music out there that isn’t. So why not sit back, relax, and enjoy the manic noise of Kayo Dot?
SCORE – 9.3
FAVORITE TRACKS – Crown-In-The-Muck, Thief, Zlida Caosgi (To Water the Earth), Floodgate, And He Built Him A Boat, Passing The River, The Wait of the World
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