TPR Band Feature: The Kingdom of the Holy Sun

Written By: Chris Parsons

Jim Morrison’s not dead! That’s the first thing I thought of when I first heard “Spread Your Heaven Like Love” from Kingdom of the Holy Sun‘s latest release, Pharmacokinetics. And this was no one-off tribute of Mr. Mojo Risin’ for these psychedelic Seattle, Washington rockers. In fact, they’ve put out a total of three full-length records exhibiting such remarkable, and eerily nostalgic, sounds in just the course of this year; first a self-titled (Feb 2012), then Jesus in India (April 2012), and finally, Pharmacokinetics (June 2012)! But, Kingdom of the Holy Sun are not The Doors. They are more of an amalgamation of the “old school psychedelic” and proto-punk of the The Doors combined with the sounds of post-modernist neo-psychedelia in the vein of The Brain Jonestown Massacre, plus some Spacemen 3 influence for good measure (“Sound of Dillusion”). Instead of putting on the skin of The Doors‘ energetic, psychedelic blues jams, Kingdom of the Holy Sun are wholly fresh and “new hat”; a very mellow and heady trip with ringing organs and spacey guitars, and a vocalist who might  as well be the ghost of the late Jim Morrison. There are many psych rock bands, especially on the U.S. east coast, with vocalists that seem to attempt a replication of Jim’s deep and captivating baritone, but I’ve never heard such an authentic facsimile. It’s as if the vocalist spent all of his childhood spinning The Doors‘ records endlessly, singing along, and all the while being sure to account for every breathy shamanistic utterance and mapping his vocal chords like a determined topographer. The lyrical content is even similar; again, shamanistic and very cosmic poems that only serve to bring on flashbacks  of a truly creative genius, and his photogenic face.

Three records is a lot of content for any one band in a single year, especially an independent band in the up-and-coming stages, and this impressive feat does not go unnoticed, serving as a very thorough introduction to sound that is Kingdom of the Holy Sun. The instrumentation does not use heavy effects at all, the most obvious being liberal sprinklings of heady reverb. The songs also have a tendency to induce a sense of calming hypnagogia; very mellow, slowcore vibes that let chords ring openly into infinity and often a minimal percussion presence of shakers, tambourines, and the like– just enough to add a touch of propulsion and rhythm. Where Ray Manzarek and Robby Krieger– and even John Densmore– were trying to have their audience dance the acid out of their spines, Kingdom of the Holy Sun serve to lure you into a very warm and comfortable trance, as if to say, “we’ve graduated from acid, now welcome to our opium den.” Their sound is very wall-of-sound-full and hypnotic; an ingenious blending of psychedelic aesthetics and idioms from two different eras, paired with the deeply poetic chants of an old legend, seemingly reborn. Kingdom of the Holy Sun are as much the new Doors, if there was ever to be such a group; once again, the doors of perception are open, and it’s an oh-so-groovy experience, can’t you dig it?

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