Brooklyn producer Kingdom sits in an odd place: a supposed stalwart of the stalled US Garage scene and Todd Edwards acolyte, 2010 sees him more aligned with UK house, getting particularly cozy with the Night Slugs crew. They provided excellent remixes on his Mind Reader EP earlier this year, and with That Mystic he returns the favour with a proper release on the label.
Each track shares in the springy, cartoonish, and rounded sounds so characteristic of Night Slugs, but similarities to anything else end there. There's something strangely urgent, almost desperate about this music, the way the sampled vocal chirps and tinny synths of "That Mystic" are pulled down by the foggy dread of the bassline, and how the horns jitter and shoot off uncontrollably in the faux-military-march of "Bust Broke." This emotional uncertainty is part of what makes the EP feel so unfamiliar, implacable and strangely alluring; any attempt at categorization or pigeonholing simply slides down their smooth, glassy surfaces.
What's most exciting about Kingdom's sound is the percussion; each track here bubbles and fizzes exuberantly, drums that not only sound unconventional but exist unconventionally. They lend his music its semblances of melody instead of the synth melodies themselves, which in turn feel more like polyrhythms to the point where the songs are dauntingly dense webs of interlocking sounds and patterns.
The odd track out, "Fogs," is the EP's centrepiece and certainly its best moment, vintage 1970s synths molding and expanding like silly putty in the hands of some lithe and invisible higher power. Throw in pounding halfstep percussion, tentative horn riffs and vocals that sound suspiciously like Grace Slick, and you've got yourself a banger from another planet. But even "banger" feels too restrictive a term, as Kingdom has constructed opuses here that work just as well on their own, far removed from any notion of dance music. Maybe pop music from another planet is a better analogy, as the unexpected vocal breakdown in "Bust Broke" will attest to, where everything just melts away for a few bars to revel in the gorgeous glory of the human voice.
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Tracklist: Kingdom - That Mystic EP 01. That Mystic
02. Bust Broke
05. Seven Chirp