Our current chapter presents a twist in our wandering tale of discovery. On the surface, we have what appears to be an extremely talented and eclectic jazz fusion group, but, as we dig deeper, 8-bits emerge from the musical depths!
Chapter Four: The Reign of Kindo
Hailing from New York, The Reign of Kindo is, for me, a little indescribable. You see, I don’t have a whole lot of formal education when it comes to music, I don’t know what the “right” words are to describe things. It’s a lot like that quote: I may not know art, but I know what I like. Well, listening to Reign of Kindo is similar to looking at an impressionist piece of ‘Whistler’s Mother‘, painted by Seurat while he was blindfolded, taking direction from M.C. Escher, which was then saved in 16-bit in Microsoft paint. The band’s musical styling is described on their Facebook page as “music with words”, but it is so much deeper, so much more engaging, and so much more gloriously unique than that description implies.
While the band’s usual fare is, if I were forced to pigeon hole, more akin to Jazz Fusion with a pop/funk/Latin twist, two members, Steve and Mike, have managed to translate it all into two flooring revisions in 8 bits. ‘This Is Also What Happens‘, released in 2010, was the first such offering. What struck me was the faithfulness with which they were able to capture the original tracks, from the booty-swiveling Latin rhythms of ‘Now We’ve Made Our Ascent’ to ‘Soon It Shall Be’s slow, melancholy, Fiddler on the Roof-esque feel. Each of the songs captures the spirit of the original. The offerings all conjure a distinct image, as if you are transported vividly to another place and time. When listening to one of my favorites from this album, ‘Blistered Hands’, I can almost taste the salty sea air and feel the sand between my toes!
‘Play‘, which is a rearrangement of Reign of Kindo’s latest, ‘Play With Fire’, is just as varied and deliciously fun as the first. (And that cover artwork, right?) This album feels more like an OST, transporting you not into reflections of your reality, but to distant fantasy. Something about each song feels like I’m being pulled through a story. The unlikely hero sets out on their quest with the opening track ‘The Hero, The Saint, The Tyrant & The Terrorist’. With ‘Dust’ you are beaten down, but not beaten. Battles are won (‘Make a Sound’, ‘I Hate Music’), adventures had (‘Romancing a Stranger’), and new friends made (‘Sunshine’). By the end you are left feeling fulfilled and excited for more!
Also of note is their remix album ‘8 bits’ which features tracks by the artist Sleeping at Last. This album is a completely different texture from the upbeat bleep bloops found in ‘Play’ and ‘This Is Also What Happens’. Pulling from a completely separate array of textures, Mike & Steve offer an experience reminiscent of sleepy, sunny days, laid out in the grass, filled with child-like wonder. My favorite track is ‘Porcelain’. Listening to it, I’m overwhelmed with memories of running through the sprinkler until I was too tired to stand.
I was so surprised and blown away by the proficiency of their unconventionally conventional music; the instrumentalism and vocals are spectacular. I was equally impressed by the chiptune remixes on both of the albums, which are eclectic, exciting, and beyond expectation. The Reign of Kindo is a must listen for fans of either style!
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