Saturday, December 4, 2010


Last night, Jeremiah, Tim, and I finished up our pre-mixes (we made reference mixes as close to the final product was as possible at home, then will send the ProTools sessions off to Randall Dunn for the final mixing) of the Tartar Lamb II record.

Today, I listened through the record from beginning to end for the first time - and then two more times after that. I have to say that I'm extremely proud of my bandmates in TL2 for bringing to life a music which was, at first approach, virtually impenetrable; which was very difficult to understand from an instrumentalist's perspective because of how the piece is notated and temporally structured; a piece which was very difficult to understand from an ensemble's perspective, everyone needing to know everyone else' part impeccably, and only being able to gel with one another when everyone knew all the parts, yet all of us being confused on how to rehearse with this requirement. And what these guys have done is turn these extraordinarily unusual ideas into a record that is beautifully listenable, deceptively simple-sounding, and perfectly evocative of its subject matter and intention. I'm so wonderfully fortunate to be able to work with a group of geniuses such as this, and can't wait for you all to hear the record, which is very much a studio project beyond the performance piece.

I've been noticing that my own vocal cords seem to sympathetically resonate to recordings of at least my *own* voice... and by extension, recordings of my own music. Since I listened through this record three times today, in a row, with basically a lump in my throat the whole time, I now have an intensely sore and exhausted feeling voice. I'm speaking with hoarseness now. And I'd hardly done any talking today or yesterday.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

He gets it!!!

Highlights from a recent "Coyote" review at by AtomicCrimsonRush:

"...I hated it... I simply like to be entertained by music and this has the opposite effect."

"I was disturbed"

"The band just wallow in misery"


"At the end I felt depressed and I don't listen to music to feel depressed."

"Maybe this would speak to me if I were going through a break up or lost my job or a loved one passed away or I gave my soul away, but life is not like that for me. I can't relate to dark depressing sonnets and don't really want to subject my ears to hearing from the jaded warped minds of such musicians."

"The vocals are just miserable and despairing,"

"It is quite a feat of endurance to get through this."

"the gut wrenching music is nauseating beyond belief."

"it is simply not entertaining."

"As a parent I would cry if my children were listening to this."

"Coyote is drab and disturbing."

"sheer bleak atmosphere... I won't be returning to this."

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Second Sight

Hey all, just got a new webcam for the sake of trying to give lessons via Skype, but in the meantime i also thought I'd upload some casual guitar stuff to youtube as well. Here's a simple little tune I wrote just last night, with lyrics by Jason Byron.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I'm a fan of a fan

I'm a fan of a fan and his name is Eric Laurin. Eric's one of the most supportive people my partners in music and I have ever come across; he takes care of all our bands and we wouldn't even have the strength to continue if it weren't for people like him.

I mention Eric because he's the one who encouraged me to start a mailing list, which I have just very recently done, after fifteen years of reluctance.

If you want to subscribe to it, send an email to me at


Coyote, Stained Glass, Lessons, Artworks, Maps, Pictures, Dreams...

First update in a long while. Most of the relevant news has actually been appearing on the main page, as I haven't really felt the need to editorialize much. Coyote was released in April, right as I left for tour playing bass for Secret Chiefs 3 in Europe, so Kayo Dot didn't really get a chance to tour Coyote in the States. Initially, we thought Coyote was going to be released in January, so we had planned on touring around that time, but things got delayed, then our drummer, Dave Bodie, had a baby and I got another gig. Oh well...

We're going to play Coyote on tour in November and January/February though, along with some old material. Speaking of tour, the U.S. leg will coincide with the release of Coyote on vinyl, courtesy of TAIGA records, and our new EP, Stained Glass, on CD, courtesy of Hydra Head. Then, the January/February portion of touring will coincide with the release of TARTAR LAMB II on vinyl, with Tartar Lamb II and Jeremiah Cymerman opening the concerts in Europe.

Stained Glass was just completed a couple weeks ago, with a majority of the recording being done by me at home. Check out the Stained Glass page here at my website for some audio, when the time comes, as well as images, and more about the recording. Trey Spruance from Secret Chiefs 3/Mr. Bungle was kind enough to perform a late-nite guitar solo on this record for us!

In other recent news, our campaign to fund a TARTAR LAMB II recording was a success! We're beginning recording on Saturday, Sept. 25 here in Brooklyn. We'll send updates via the page shortly after that. Excited!

Finally, I decided to start giving private lessons (on guitar, bass, clarinet, and other stuff like composition, theory, gear tech, etc). I used to do this at a music store in Connecticut, and think the time is right to start again. Since most people that would be interested in this are outside of NYC, I've been encouraged to try to do lessons via Skype. Contact me if you're interested!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


I wanted to add some info to Kayo Dot's wikipedia page, specifically regarding the new album. Wasn't really sure how to cite references to all the changes I made, so I figure if I put all the text here, maybe this blog can serve as the reference point.


Kayo Dot is an American avant-rock/experimental music group that was formed in 2003 by Toby Driver. They released their debut album Choirs of the Eye on John Zorn's Tzadik Records label that year. Tzadik's descriptive label on that 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."

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. This lends to the music the element of "malleability" mentioned in Tzadik's description above.

The music of Kayo Dot exists outside of market-oriented genre classification, being most succinctly described as "modern composition with a rock background." Their songs involve complex instrumentation (composed by singer and frontman Driver). They are substantially longer than typical rock songs, usually ranging from 8 to 18 minutes in length.

Kayo Dot's albums are musically thematic (see individual albums' links for details), being conceptualized as full albums rather than as collections of disparate songs, and are invariably intended to be listened from start to finish.

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 1996-2000, 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."

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 in New York City on February 6, 2010).

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 member Terran Olson on woodwinds and keyboards. Patrick Wolff has since left the band, and Daniel Means has added bass guitar to his duties.

In April 2008, Driver began working on a new long-form composition with his partner, 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. Sueta passed away while the record was in post-production, and the band has dedicated it to her. Coyote_(album) is Kayo Dot's fourth studio album and will be released on April 6, 2010 by Hydra Head Records, once again featuring a surprising re-configuration of the band's instrumentation and sound.