One of the greatest traits of the underground music community is its deeply collaborative nature. A journey into one artist’s discography will often illuminate connections to other like-minded artists, which initiates the insatiable quest to devour yet another intriguing discography. Such is the case with Stern, which likely attracted attention due to its…
“Avant-garde” is arguably the most misused genre descriptor in modern metal. Whether in blog posts or comment sections, there’s always someone that’s heard a slightly off-kilter metal album and immediately slapped on the old “A-G” tag. That said, I’m not going to use Område as an example to parse out the differences between avant-garde, experimental and progressive metal (an article worth writing by someone who actually wants that to be their hill to die on). I’m actually here because of the French duo’s invigorating take on avant-garde metal—an approach that captures the essence of the genre in gorgeous, meticulous detail. Whereas bands like maudlin of the Well and Pan.Thy.Monium found success by thrusting death metal into avant-garde territory, Område excel by nailing down the core of avant-garde metal and renovating it’s structure with intricate furnishings and vibrant coats of paint. There may be no shortage of high-quality albums to recommend to metal fans flirting withe the avant-garde, but there are a sparse few that rival Nåde’s marriage of accessibility and bold artistry.
On Madonnawhore, his latest solo effort, Driver embraces this image, creating an album of touching ballads which draw on the dreamy, art rock/pop themes that have become part of his staple sound. Interspersed with plenty of medieval references, the album also seems very much aware of its origins and historical context. The result is a rich and immersive album that sees the spotlight shift towards Driver’s delivery and emotional range, as befits any collection of ballads. This emotional fluency is best exemplified by “Avignon”, a touching track that hits deep right at the album’s beginning. Avignon itself was the city in which the Avignon Papacy was housed during the conflict between the French Crown and the Roman Papacy. It’s a city, located as it is on the south of France, that evokes heady themes of citrus, faint heat, spring and also erudite resistance, schism, affluence and opulence.
Given the modern understanding of “dance music,” listeners may expect The Living Earth Show’s sophomore album to toy with synth melodies and simple snare-kick patterns. And while this may be true to a small extent, guitarist Travis Andrews and percussionist Andy Meyerson serve a reminder of the boundlessness of what can soundtrack dance and, inversely, how dance morphs as an art form depending on its sonic backdrop. All five tracks composed for Dance Music were written with dance in mind and ultimately conjure unique, off-kilter imagery ranging from club fare to interpretative dance. And though not every experiment is a success, the duo maintain intrigue at the very least.
This Friday, June 24th, the almost aggressively eclectic and indefinable Kayo Dot will release their latest album, Plastic House On Base Of Sky. About one month ago, on May 28th, the band performed at Saint Vitus in Brooklyn, playing a selection of material from Plastic House and their previous two albums, Coffins On Io and Hubardo. Against the backdrop of an unseasonably warm and unbearably humid day, I had the opportunity to sit down with Kayo Dot composer, multi-instrumentalist, and mastermind Toby Driver to discuss a range of topics surrounding the album, its influences, its challenges, and why metal isn’t a primary source of musical inspiration for him these days.
For those who missed our last installment, We post biweekly updates covering what the staff at Heavy Blog have been spinning. Given the amount of time we spend on the site telling you about music that does not fall neatly into the confines of conventional “metal,” it should come as…
New Kayo Dot album coming on the horizon!