The newest record from the Minneapolis band Kazyak marks a fundamental shift in both mindset and lineup for the group. What was once a full-time touring trio making groovy music for festivalgoers has morphed into a mature art project with alternative indie-folk ilk. The music is a nostalgic revival and listeners can hear instantly that it was created by authentic craftsmen.
Songwriter/guitarist Peter Frey has always waded in the pool of midwestern music. As a kid, he absorbed lofty sonic architecture from the likes of 12 Rods, Fat Kid Wednesdays, and Tiki Obmar, and more recently, Halloween Alaska and Bon Iver. On the new record, Frey spits it all back out in his own way: The warmth of a nylon-string guitar blended around an expressive falsetto, the electronic drum sequences layered beneath a live Ludwig kit, and an acoustic banjo processed through circuit-bent guitar pedals.
The album's title is a variation on the old adage of "not seeing the forest for the trees." With this new album, Frey strived to simultaneously mind the finer details and the big picture. Each song is a snapshot, a thread in a tapestry, and though you never get the sense that there's a rigid theme or set of rules to the story, you can't help but feel that each song is connected on multiple levels. With an arc that builds in your chest, "Pieces of My Map" expresses the vulnerability one would feel if lost in the woods. Track two, "To the Manner Born," is a love story gone wrong that explodes at exactly the right moments. Every track is infectious, warm and overflowing.
See the Forest, See the Trees is a solid statement that the lineup and mindset adjustments aren't the end for Kazyak. Instead, See the Forest, See the Trees is a new beginning: It is Kazyak, born into color.