Far back on a rocky crag amid black twisted boughs of thorny pine and gnarled oak, a chapel lies discarded. Wind creaks around shutters, clattering them against the livid daggers of once-windows. The forest crowds in close to rake its narrow fingers over buttresses and dismembered statuary. These sounds make up an inhospitable dull roar that submerges any footsteps climbing the walk outside. Inside, however, there is an unearthly stillness in which each glittering drop of water slipping from the moss-devoured roof gains its own sharp resonance, glancing off crushed pews, tumbling over staved in window-glass, stirring a dampened dance of dust motes. The roof is in a highly deteriorated state, and together, the rivulets and drips spin in eerie, complex harmonics, each note hanging distinct amid a flutter of others. The entry is dim despite the chapel's state of decay, but moving in further, it is clear that the pulpit is bright with kaleidoscopic color. There, stately archs of stained glass — a secret geometry of amber, emerald, and deep marine — sleep intact, their light scattered constantly by the gliding of tree branches against the sun outside and by the prisms of falling water within. Behind and beyond, the rising wind through joins its anguished shriek to the crystalline melodies of light-feathered glass and water, murmurs of stirring trees lend their urgency. But in all of this, the stained glass of the pulpit-windows tower brilliant and complete. To stand before these windows is to fall into them.
Feverish and violently beautiful, Kayo Dot's latest EP, Stained Glass, is a single evolving 20-minute work primarily countering sharp contrasts of mallet percussion, electric guitar, and searing overdriven organ. The blurb describes “scenes of rapture, agony, and
consecration… arrayed as windows,” but there is a cryptic richness here that defies that description, or my own above. An excerpt, with highly distorted organ before climbing into one of the pieces several rich juxtapositions of percussive melodic clarity and hazily grinding sheets of guitar, should give a good sense of the whole:
The EP is out now on Hydra Head Records, who also released Kayo Dot's latest (2010) full-length, Coyote.