Koyo opens with a metronome groove, featuring speaker-shaking bass, wurlitzer splashes and unison trumpet/sax lines over a slapping, loose-jointed percussion, on "Their Song"... very modern-sounding, reminscent of the Marcus Miller/Miles Davis collaborations Tutu and Amandla. "Malmo-Lund" brings a more mainstream, up-tempo sound to the mix on an up-and-down-the-scale piano riff; and it's hard to take your ears off the drummer, Janne Robertson, with his propulsive shuffle that injects some organic juice into the band's otherwise tight sound. "Machine Man" takes the music into the mechanical realm, with the droning bass thrum behind the horns—an aptly-titled piece: on a blind listen I'd dubbed it "Android's Song." Then "Titanic" drifts into a more mainstream current.
And so goes the disc—a mix of modernistic and the mainstream, bringing Miles Davis from the mid-sixties into the eighties to mind a great deal.
My initial impression—this from a reviewer with an acoustic preference—was that Koyo sounded a bit sterile; the same initial impression I entertained on first hearing those Marcus Miller/Miles Davis records. But a few spins of the disc—an acclimation of sorts—revealed a quintet working a some tight grooves over sharp-edged arrangements backed by a superbly flexible drummer.
"Return of the Party Animal" cooks, brassily; and "Must", with bass/sax/trumpet/vibes closes the show on an intropective note that brought Henry Threadgill's Everybody's Mouth's a Book (Pi Records, '01) to mind.
A somewhat derivative but still pretty damned good set.