First things first, all of you should probably watch this. You may have seen this video several years back when it gained quite a bit of circulation around YouTube. This is the music of The Reign of Kindo, a jazz-rock group hailing from Buffalo, New York. In April of 2010 they released their second studio album, and third release in total, called This Is What Happens on CandyRat Records. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the label, CandyRat is one of my most trusted sources for beautifully written modern acoustic music. Musicians like Jon Gomm and Andy McKee, two of the most notable percussive fingerstyle guitarists, are represented by the label. In short, its catalog is stocked to the brim with remarkable music quality. So then, back to This Is What Happens. What exactly is it that happens? Press on, dear reader…
If you think about it, the world’s population of music enthusiasts can essentially be divided into two categories. There are those who value originality and advanced musicianship above all else, sometimes to the point of pretentiousness and condescension towards “lesser” artists. Then there are those who don’t care about any of that; they just want to dance around and sing catchy melodies. Both groups have their limitations, but luckily that’s where The Reign of Kindo comes in. Their music combines elements from both of these viewpoints into a single cohesive style, and the result is an extraordinarily melodic collection of tunes, rich in originality and soulfulness.
The group consists of five members, filling out the orchestration for vocals, guitar, piano, bass, drums, and percussion. Joseph Secchiaroli is the band’s frontman, in charge of lead vocals and guitar. He always reminds me of a slightly jazzier John Mayer, for some reason. Kelly Sciandra provides immensely colorful harmonies on the piano. This Is What Happens was the last album to feature Sciandra, who has since left the band in pursuit of other musical opportunities.
Drummer Steve Padin and percussionist Michael Carroll round out the rhythm section along with Jeff Jarvis on bass. Together, they lay an extremely strong foundation for the rest of the group to build on. Padin’s syncopated grooves have clear roots and jazz and funk music, while Carroll adds a distinct layer of Latin coloring with the auxiliary percussion. Jeff Jarvis’s bass lines seem to pull heavily from indie rock traditions, while simultaneously enhancing the heavily percussive nature of the rest of the rhythm section.
The key element that makes the difference between a good band and a great band is the individual expertise of each musician. Every track on the album makes full use of the incredibly expansive range of sound that the group is able to create. The piano fills out the sonic field nicely, and on many tracks serves as the main harmonic foundation. Sciandra excels in both virtuosic performance and delicate expression. Add in the bass and guitar to the mix, and we’ve now converted the sound to a more rock and fusion-oriented style.
This would be an immensely powerful sound on its own, but when it’s combined with the drums and percussion, we get a whole new flavor represented in this musical concoction of soupy goodness. All of this provides the wind for the vocals to soar high above the ground, adding the final, emotionally rich component to the band’s sound. The lyrics on the album are refreshingly devoid of all frills and filters; instead we are serenaded with powerful vocal melodies and harmonies that lay down thoughtful lines of poetry on top of the instrumental tracks.
The mixing and production done on This Is What Happens are also to be highly commended. Everything is crisp, clear, and well-balanced. Listening to this record is almost like being in the room with the band as they play all of their music live. The more intently that you listen to the music, the more your ears are rewarded with small sonic treasures. The melodic and rhythmic complexity on these compositions flow together extremely well, supporting each other without fighting for attention.
The Reign of Kindo is a true gem of brilliantly orchestrated live music. All of their releases are immutable treasure troves of colorful, emotive songs. The follow-up to This Is What Happens is due to come out on July 30th of this year. Play With Fire will be the group’s third full-length record, and it may quite possibly be their best record yet. If you enjoyed this post and the band’s music, then I highly recommend you stay tuned for their upcoming release!