Minnesotan six-piece Kazyak kick off See The Forest, See The Trees with folky, rustic textures and canyon-sized harmonies on “Pieces Of My Map,” setting up a vibe that persists from front-to-back. This is gravitational stuff with hushed, emotive guitars, a violin-cello combo, and a soul-searching lyrical narrative, but it isn’t without its playful facets: Glitchy electronic beats, warped synths and samples, atmospheres conjuring post-rock, backbeats dropping in and out. Curiosities abound, and it all enhances the story being told by singer Peter Frey.
Frey sometimes reminds of Jim James, just to give a frame of reference—especially apparent when he’s really projecting, backed by harmonies and thick reverb. On “Tar Baby,” his falsetto throws out a ghostly, earnest performance that almost sounds like a different voice altogether. Cymbals clank and crash arrhythmically in the background while the string section pushes the song to a peak. “To The Manner Born” and “Part I: Rabbiting Fox” are brutallysad—the former loveless and inconsolable, the latter happily lifted, about halfway through, by the ease of its backbeat and the assurance that “There’s blood in the river/That don’t make it a river of blood.” It’s followed by the ambient anxiety of “Part II: Pitch Thick,” but Frey sounds perkier and optimistic in closer “Disposition,” which moves along quickly with a lively strum-‘n’-drum and thickly-fuzzed arpeggios of electric guitar. When it’s done, the affair feels tied off with a pretty bow—it’s storybook, but a little anti-climactic. Although a couple of the album’s passages feel like a trudge through cadences without a defining feature, it’s a worthwhile trip into an artful, stylish world from a creative group with an apparent obsession with fairy tales. Kazyak’s adventurousness is beyond welcome.