Kazyak’s Reflection is the sort of album I think you’ll be able to keep returning for years to come and never fully exhaust its appeal. The band complied eight demos, b-sides, and outtakes to form this album, but this unlikely method for structuring anything more than a hodgepodge collection lacking rhyme or reason pays off, instead, for Kazyak in a big way. Patterns and connections aren’t always apparent in an artist’s work – a seemingly unrelated batch of songs may, long after their initial composition, assume different significance later on. There’s no question the songs included on this release share an over-arching consistency despite exploring wildly different styles. The uniting element is their daring. Kazyak excel at fundamentals, but they use that bedrock musical command to marry seemingly disparate styles into a cohesive whole.
Flashes of the band’s alternative rock influences aren’t in short supply on Reflection and the first song “First Do No Harm” conjures that sound during its introduction, but the guitar storm soon disperses and listeners settle into a languid groove. Nick Grewe’s drumming, especially the condensed rolls he mixes into his patterns, is one of the biggest reasons why this song works its way under your skin. Pat Hayes adds a brief synth break in the song’s second half, but it’s more compositionally oriented than a traditional solo of any sort. The clear strands of acoustic guitar opening “Our Daydream” are popped by just the right amount of synthesizer accompaniment providing grace notes to the escalating guitar. “Our Daydream” moves into streamlined, economical verses with inescapable delicacy and the singing winds its way through a wide emotional range.
It’s a fine piece of lyric writing, but “Talking to a Stranger” outstrips it in every way. The droning synthesizer figure defining so much of the song’s first half accentuates its lightly psychedeliczed feel. Kazyak strengthens the song further by giving it a lightly pressing, yet inexorable feel, and the unusual use of banjo in the songwriting is another factor providing the song with its own unique voice. “Androcles” has a free form beginning, but it quickly assumes shape as a artful folk song with modern ornamentations – an interesting touch for a song setting in ancient Rome, but never sounding disconnected from our own experiences. There’s a slightly chaotic veneer laying over this tune, but it’s also a folk song at heart and one of the album’s pinnacles thanks to its storytelling.
“Belmonte” has the album’s best chorus and the plaintive wail in the vocal will reach the hearts of many, but it’s a musically excellent number as well with some of Pat Hayes’ best synthesizer playing on the release. “10,000 Flowers” finishes this release with a relaxed gait, a thoughtful arrangement, and some of the gentlest vocals on Reflection. The opening of the song could scarcely be more to the point, despite a few nifty moments, but there’s a break after the song’s half way point and the gloves come off after that. Kazyak concludes the song with an instrumental showcase fully in keeping with everything that has come before. It’s a fitting conclusion for an album full of considered, even brilliant, turns and serves as a final illustration of just how talented these five musicians are.
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