Kayo Dot in Santa Cruz, CA
|Origin||Boston, Massachusetts, USA|
Postmodern classical music
|Associated acts||maudlin of the Well
Toby Driver (as a solo artist)
|Past members||Jason Byron
Since then, Kayo Dot's music has undergone several identity shifts, largely influenced by the band's constantly changing lineup and instrumentation. One predominant element of Driver's compositional voice which remains consistent throughout all of Kayo Dot's output, however, is the band's use of abstract timing and performance cues.
The band have released seven studio albums: Choirs of the Eye in 2003, Dowsing Anemone with Copper Tongue in 2006, Blue Lambency Downward in 2008, Coyote in 2010, Stained Glass in 2011, Gamma Knife/Grey Dream in 2012 and Hubardo in 2013.
- 1 History
- 2 Musical style
- 3 Current members
- 4 Discography
- 5 References
- 6 External links
1996–2004: Formation and Choirs of the Eye
Kayo Dot was formed after the disbanding of maudlin of the Well, a progressive heavy metal band which formed in 1996 and dissolved in 2003. Many past members of maudlin of the Well – Josh Seipp-Williams, Sam Gutterman, Terran Olson, Andrew Dickson, and Toby Driver – studied at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts from 1996 to 2000, where My Fruit PsychoBells...A Seed Combustible was recorded. At Hampshire, Driver, Olson, and Dickson were students of jazz musician Yusef Lateef, whose theories of autophysiopsychic music may have influenced the bands' output.
Driver has gone on to say on their website: "Some members of this project worked in the progressive-metal project-band maudlin of the Well from 1996 - 2003, at which time motW dismembered. Kayo Dot isn't much different from maudlin of the Well musically - rather it's more like a continuation in the direction maudlin of the Well had been progressing."
and has also said: "People are too preoccupied with whatever connection there may be between maudlin of the Well and Kayo Dot."
2005–2007: Dowsing Anemone with Copper Tongue
In May 2005, Tom Malone joined the band as their new drummer after longtime collaborator Sam Gutterman left the band in March 2005. Kayo Dot then signed to Robotic Empire Records and released its second album, Dowsing Anemone with Copper Tongue, in January 2006.
In 2006, near the end of the fall tour, four members – playing guitar, bass, drums, and trumpet – left the band for personal reasons. On the tenth of December, Greg Massi also left Kayo Dot on good terms stating he was going "to try and figure out other aspects of my musical life and take some time to figure out where I want to be going." (Massi has since completed his solo album, "A Time for Rust" under the moniker Baliset. Massi also temporarily rejoined Kayo Dot in January 2010 as a guest for the purpose of one performance of Choirs of the Eye at The Stone (music space) in New York City on February 6, 2010).
2008–2009: Blue Lambency Downward
After Massi's departure, Kayo Dot, consisting of only two members, Driver and Matsumiya, began working on their third album, Blue Lambency Downward, which was released in May 2008 by Hydra Head Records. Kayo Dot used several session musicians on this recording (Skerik on tenor and baritone saxophone and vibraphone, Hans Teuber on clarinet, Charlie Zeleny on drumset), and enlisted Randall Dunn as their producer and recording engineer. This album marked the first time one of Driver's recordings was not produced by Driver himself. After Blue Lambency Downward's release, Driver relocated from Boston to New York City, and for the purpose of touring the woodwind-abundant album, put a new lineup together whose new members were: Patrick Wolff on woodwinds, Daniel Means on woodwinds and guitar, David Bodie on drums, and original (and former maudlin of the Well) member Terran Olson on woodwinds and keyboards.
2010–2012: Coyote, Stained Glass and Gamma Knife
In April 2008, Driver began working on a new long-form composition with Yuko Sueta, a NYC-based writer, filmmaker, and video artist (with Driver as the composer and Sueta as the author, intending to create a film to be projected along with performances of the music). A first draft of this piece was premiered at The Stone in September 2008 by The Kayo Dot Auxiliary Unit (Bodie and Means of Kayo Dot, Yuko Sueta, and Tim Byrnes on trumpet). Shortly thereafter, Sueta, who had been fighting breast cancer, became incapacitated by the disease. Driver re-drafted and adapted the piece for Kayo Dot (along with Byrnes), toured it in May 2009 on the road with Secret Chiefs 3, and recorded it with Randall Dunn in Seattle during June–July 2009, releasing it later as 2010's Coyote. Sueta died while the record was in post-production, and the band has dedicated it to her.
Coyote is Kayo Dot's fourth studio album and was released on April 20, 2010 by Hydra Head Records, once again featuring a surprising re-configuration of the band's instrumentation and sound, this time around an 80's goth-bass sound augmented by brass and saxophone. It was recorded in summer 2009 in Seattle, Washington, by Randall Dunn. The lineup for this album was Driver on bass and vocals, Olson on keyboards, Bodie on drums, Matsumiya on violin, Byrnes on trumpet, and Means on alto saxophone.
Kayo Dot also released an EP entitled Stained Glass in November, 2010, which featured a guest guitar solo by Trey Spruance of Secret Chiefs 3 and Mr. Bungle fame. Stained Glass was partially recorded at Zing Studios in Westfield, Massachusetts, by Jim Fogarty, and partially by Toby Driver at home. It consists of one twenty-minute track (entitled "Stained Glass"), and was released on CD by Hydra Head Records and on LP by Antithetic Records in early 2011, featuring a bonus track: a remix entitled "Stained Glass (Demix)." Stained Glass features lyrics by Jason Byron, although, only about 20% of the penned lyrics are actually sung on the song. The remaining lyrics appear in the liner notes, some of which make a reappearance in Byron's book, The Sword of Satan which was released in 2013 along with the Hubardo 3xLP. The lineup on Stained Glass was the same as Coyote, with the addition of Russell Greenberg on vibraphone, and the aforementioned solo by Mr. Spruance.
After leaving Hydra Head, the band continued to be active, but needed to find creative ways to record and release the music, since there was no longer any financial support from a label. Gamma Knife/Grey Dream was, therefore, recorded live at a concert at Littlefield in Brooklyn, New York on October 5, 2011, for a budget of zero dollars and via six channels of microphones into a laptop helmed by a friend of the band, clarinetist/composer Jeremiah Cymerman. The concert featured several moments of audience participation, on voice and on certain instruments placed around the venue - aluminum trays, guitars tuned to open tunings, and more - cued by and performed along with the band. It was self-released, by the band on their own imprint, Ice level Music, digitally on January 4, 2012, on the online music store Bandcamp and later that year by Antithetic Records on CD and LP. The lineup for this album was Driver on bass, piano, synths, and guitar, Olson on alto sax, Means on alto Sax, Matsumiya on violin, Byrnes on mellotron bells, and newcomer Keith Abrams (ex-PAK, ex-Time of Orchids) on drums.
In spring of 2013, Kayo Dot continued their recent trend of self-releasing by announcing a pre-order for a new double-album of approximately 100 minutes of music. Hubardo was subsequently recorded that spring in Seattle by Randall Dunn, and was digitally released worldwide on September 10, 2013 to widespread acclaim, making Hubardo the first Kayo Dot record since Dowsing Anemone With Copper Tongue that had received substantial positive press. The vinyl version of Hubardo, a triple-LP, is still in production, and is to be released with an approximately 40-page book/poem by the band's longtime collaborator, Jason Byron, entitled The Sword of Satan. Hubardo is a concept album that features a story and lyrics by Mr. Byron, as well as photography by Rachel Wolf.
The lineup for this album was: Driver on bass, keyboards, percussion, and voice, Olson on woodwinds and keyboards, Means on woodwinds, Byrnes on brass, Varod on guitar, Abrams on drums, Matsumiya on violin, and Byron with guest vocals on the first half of the song, "The Black Stone," marking his first recorded appearance since maudlin of the Well's albums, Bath and Leaving Your Body Map in 2001.
Olson and Matsumiya have since moved to the U.S. West Coast, limiting their involvement in the band to guest appearances.
Tzadik's descriptive label on their debut album reads: "Kayo Dot powerfully integrates elements of modern classical composition with the layers of guitars and vocals more common to rock and metal. With a compositional map that is strict in form yet malleable in execution, Kayo Dot uses a vast array of instrumentation to create an exciting convergence of violence and serenity."
The music of Kayo Dot is commonly categorized as post-metal, post-rock, progressive rock, or avant-garde. Their songs involve complex instrumentation (composed by singer and frontman Driver) and are substantially longer than typical rock songs, usually ranging from 8 to 18 minutes in length.
- Toby Driver - vocals, guitar, bass guitar, keyboards
- Keith Abrams - drums (Time of Orchids)
- Daniel Means - woodwinds
- Ron Varod - guitar, synth
- Tim Byrnes - trumpet, flugelhorn, horn in F
|2003||Choirs of the Eye|
|2006||Dowsing Anemone with Copper Tongue|
|2008||Blue Lambency Downward|
Splits, singles, remixes and live albums
- Split with Bloody Panda, 2006, Holy Roar Records
- "Twins Eating Fer De Lance," Champions of Sound 2008 compilation, 2009, Hydra Head Records
- Live In Bonn, Germany: October 7, 2009
- "Pages" remix on Candiria's Toying With The Insanities, vol. 1
- "COYOTE" Live on WMBR, Cambridge, Massachusetts: August, 2012
- Matthews, S.K. "Kayo Dot - Hubardo in ScenePointBlank.com". Review. Scene Point Blank. Retrieved 9/10/2013.
- Official website
- Kayo Dot's Bandcamp and audio streams
- Kayo Dot on Facebook
- ScenePointBlank's review of Hubardo
- Kayo Dot Interview about Hubardo at Lurker's Path