Artist: Kayo Dot
Title: “Gamma Knife”
Kayo Dot’s fifth studio album, “Gamma Knife,” is a sandwich, with sweet, quiet pieces for bread and an avant-garde metal slab of beef in the middle.
The effort clocks at 30 minutes for five songs, making it easy to digest.
It starts with “Lethe,” a gentle hymn with church bells calling to mind Greek mythology and ends with the title track, the best cut here, a lush piano jazz number where Toby Driver substitutes his angry moaning and wailing for clean, expressive vocals.
In between are tracks such as “Rite of Goethic Evocation,” a bubbling goop of metal that is boiling with the lid on the pot. But the middle three tracks never coalesce into songs, drifting into the ether as a result. Driver and company feel listless, grabbing at shifting ideas.
“Mirror Water, Lightning Night,” the third track, tries to find the middle ground between the two extremes, a jazzy, saxophone-fueled take on metal that works as good as anything this aimless can.
The directionless feeling of the middle tracks leaves the meat of the “Gamma Knife” sandwich undercooked, meaning this dish earns points for trying to be a better one, but never quite satisfies the palate.
Our Music Year is Daily Republic popular culture writer Nick DeCicco’s yearlong online review in 2012 of albums he had previously not listened to. The reviews will appear in print on their corresponding days during 2013. Reach him at 427-6966 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ndeciccodr.