The Reign of Kindo - This Is What Happens
Record Label: CandyRat Records
Release Date: August 3rd, 2010
When Anton Djamoos reviewedRhythm, Chord and Melody in 2008, he compared it to looking “at a painting of an empty, snow-capped town at night.” If that’s the case, then The Reign of Kindo shifted scenery in the two years since their debut. On This Is What Happens, the band aims for big-city sounds rather than wintery landscapes, waltzing from extravagant urban highways to cozy sidewalk cafes to moonlit rooftops. The best example is “City Lights & Traffic Sounds,” which guides your imagination to a colorful metropolitan night with its bouncy, Charlie Brown-y keys, and narrative about two ex-lovers who find each other through the busy cityscape only to realize their hearts are too broken to reconcile. The song is more than a demonstration of the band’s magical ability - it’s also a gentle reminder that we have reason to be every bit as excited about This Is What Happens as we were for Rhythm, Chord and Melody.
The album isn’t as “stripped down” as people have been making it out to be. Sure, the prominence of the guitars has been turned down several notches, but the sound is still full and resonant, even in piano tracks like “Symptom of a Stumbling.” The softer vibe works, though, since it allows the matured vocals of Joseph Secchiarioli to shine (he still sings as if he’s in Moulin Rouge, but that’s not a bad thing at all). “Flowers by the Moon” is a dyed-in-the-wool Kindo number, pitting layered vocal harmonies against hotel lounge jazz keys. “Feeling so enraptured by the view, tell me darling, have we witnessed beauty’s gleaming?” asks Secchiaroli, and the track bursts to life in a fit of charm. “Soon It Shall Be” works similarly but adds a melodica to create a Yann Tiersen-inspired ambience, and “Blistered Hands” might be the most poignant song when it begs for sympathy: “See these blistered hands? I don’t understand what I’ve been doing all these years.” There’s so much elegance in these more delicate tracks, you won’t miss the louder ones.
But just in case you do, they’ve stacked the album with plenty of those, too. “Thrill of the Fall,” the action-packed opener, is as boisterous as Kindo have ever been, cramming jagged baritone keys and wild percussion into four-and-a-half minutes of reckless jazz. When Secchiarioli sings “I’m feelin’ pressure I never dreamed,” we believe him. “Bullets in the Air” gets downright raucous when it throws horns in the mix, while “Comfort in the Orchestration” finds its essence in a sunny two-chord riff. “Out of Sight, Out of Mind” leaks apathy in its hooky harmony, groaning “I think I’ll spend another hour in bed…the world will keep spinning but it’s out of sight and out of mind,” but reality hits in the desperate closer “Psalm,” which panics like a child being dragged to the dentist: “I don’t need a tragedy to shake my solid ground.”
It’s worth noting that “Now We’ve Made Our Ascent” is the counterpart to Rhythm…’s “’Till We Make Our Ascent.” It closes with the same “ah ah” cascade its predecessor was built around, and while it’s a neat cameo, you can’t help but also see it as an indicator that this is almost the same Kindo from two years ago: enormously talented, spiritual, but more mature. It’s enough to make you think that maybe the big city they’re dabbling in here is really the same snow-capped town from the last album, but in a different season. The boundaries between the two blur, and you’ll find that the two share the same otherworldly aura that made Kindo an important band in the first place. That should be enough to send you after This Is What Happens in search of transcendence and good music.
Great review, Matthew. Just two things that rubbed me wrong. "Charlie Brown-y keys", while accurate if you're comparing him to Schroeder, just sounds wrong in my mind, haha.
Also, and maybe this my bias involved, I feel using the comparision of the desperation of "Pslam" to "like a child being dragged to the dentist, doesn't give the raw and powerful emotion in the song its due.
Despite these two nit-picky points, I think your use of the word "elegant" is a perfect way to describe the album. The general polish and maturity of this album has shown TROK shift to more of an new-jazz and away from their initial rock-jazz fusion sound. A perfect album for someone like me who has played sax all their life, just moved to NYC for a job, and has loved rock music forever. LOVE this album, and despite my harsh points, loved the review as well.