Kayo Dot – Stained Glass
Stained Glass is given to us, graciously, as 2010 high watermark Coyote only reached ears last April. Whether it is extended play or a mid-cycle effort to keep attentions focused is inconsequential – This is Kayo Dot. It was hard not to ‘top-down’ some emotional expectation on Coyote given the album’s proposed content, especially after hearing their capacity for rending compositions such as “Gemini Becoming the Tripod” in 2006. Coyote sat with me as an enigma for some time, until like all their releases, imposed some form of elucidation on the fourth listen; it was just so gutwrenchingly sad, and it is still difficult to approach a track like “Cartogram Out of Phase” without sensing the immediacy of the band’s turmoil. As something of a primer for Kayo Dot’s radical fusion on album four, proto-dot maudlin also released one only a year previous, a gorgeous gift along the lines of Choirs of the Eye vs. Blue Lambency Downward‘s virtuosity. Arriving at Stained Glass, this 20 minute track feels not only like more of a progression from Part the Second than Coyote, but a maudlin of the Well tone given the Kayo Dot treatment (as it were). By this I mean that Stained Glass is granted less levity than the dreamy fun of, say, “Rose Quartz Turning Into Glass” – it’s also the most evocative and felt piece under Driver’s compositional direction yet. It’s also Kayo Dot’s best work yet. Yes.
To be blunt, Stained Glass is something of a phenomenon, a melodic chemistry set that rolls along on a sonic dolly, transforming its easy-to-grasp motif in different lights – that is frankly magical to experience. The sheer joy of listening reaches its apex over the 20 minutes, wherein the first 7 operate as an expository and vocal “song”, cutting out and shifting into a percussive and paragon-like example of composition and musicianship. Stained Glass, for experienced and untrained lovers of music alike, will and should be one of the most influential listens of their life.