Kazyak's "See the Forest, See the Trees" is a strange world that's worth visiting

Kazyak frontman Peter Frey isn’t the greatest singer in the world. For that matter, he really isn’t, strictly speaking, all that good—but he is pretty damned interesting in a Neil-Young-ish sort of way, with a high, quirky voice that has its own distinct character. He's a strong songwriter, too. Odd with weird melodies, but nonetheless strong. To boot, Frey is an eccentric lyricist. Talented…and eccentric.

Consider, for instance, “To the Manner Born” from the new album See the Forest, See the Trees, which goes, “The rain is very cold sometimes/ Amorphous drops trickle down my spine/ Icing my bruised and bloody eye/ Taking punches from my inimical self/ The backseat is no place for love/ Especially some dirty pickup truck/ You should be driving this thing overdrive/ The domesticated dog’s trying to survive.” It brings to mind another stranger thinker, Cody McKinney of Tickle Fight.

Peter Frey has a thing for fables. Kazyak’s previous release Rorrimirror is, he says, “a storybook album…not made specifically for either children or adults. Essentially, it is a tribute to…adventure stories…in many forms: Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz, and so on. [It’s] about two boys named Trig & Slevko who stumble upon the magical land of Rorrimirror…and…save the monkeys from the evil curse of the lemurs.” And you have, on See the Forest, See the Trees, “Tar Baby” and “Part 1/Rabbiting Fox”, sort of revisiting the old Uncle Remus tale in which a doll made of tar and turpentine is used to trap that impetuous rascal Br'er Rabbit.

See the Forest, See the Trees is a quite listenable EP of six well-crafted, smartly executed songs the ilk of which you certainly are not going to find anywhere else. The skilled personnel along with Frey (guitar, piano) comprise drummer Brett Bullion (Tarlton, Zoo Animal, Dark Dark Dark), who also engineered; bassist Jeff Sundquist (Tungsten, Chastity Brown, Hildur Victoria); banjo player Justin Lansing (Okee Dokee Brothers); and string players Becky Gaunt (violin) and Greg Byers (cello). Frey is the producer with Huntley Miller mastering and among Frey, Bullion, and Miller, the owe themselves a pat on the back for capturing a surreal atmosphere that works perfectly for the material.

Even the album design by Bryce Dishongh is worth commenting on, something of a cross between Alice In Wonderland and Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas. The whole package, from music to lyrics to liner note images, is in a world by itself—one well worth visiting.

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Dwight Hobbes's picture
Dwight Hobbes

Dwight Hobbes (dwight [at] tcdailyplanet [dot] net) is a writer based in the Twin Cities. He contributes regularly to the TC Daily Planet.