Review: Kings Kaleidoscope – Becoming Who We Are

KingsKaleidoscopeTake a moment and give the cover art for Kings Kaleidoscope’s latest and first full length recording, Becoming Who We Are. You’ll note all the varieties of leaves depicted alongside a bright variety of flowers and blooms, accented by some mellow fruit. It’s an eclectic and unconventional work of art, to be sure, and is perhaps the perfect description of what lies beneath in the diverse collective’s sound. 

Composed of a staggering ten members, Seattle-based Kings Kaleidoscope has been developing their unique brand of indie flavored worship music for the past several years, releasing a series of well-received EPs that have drawn favorable comparisons to bands like Mars Volta. Combining hip hop influences, bright energy, and their self-described method of “designed chaos,” the collective has sought to bring a renewed sense of creativity to the land of worship and, with Becoming Who We Are, they do just that.

Swirling strings and riffing electronic moments lead off “Glorious,” lead vocalist Chad Gardner asserting himself right away with great lyricism and vocal chops while raging guitars and thudding percussion color the prayerful plea of “Seek Your Kingdom.” Those percussive notes keep resonating throughout “I Know,” bright keyboards giving some extra textures throughout as “Felix Culpa” blooms with a kicking guitar solo that segues into Gardner’s bluesy vocals as swells from the horn section declare soulful war.

“Ache” has a hip hop flavor to it, a sampled beat flowing forth, providing a solid segue while “All Creatures” finds the vaunted hymn infused with a rousing new energy, providing a great illustration of that aforementioned “designed chaos” as swirls of horns are accented by tinkling keyboards and a relentless backbeat. That’s followed by one of the record’s strongest songs, “Grace Alone,” whose stripped down nature provides a welcome respite in the energetic set and makes the song’s lyrics hit home that much harder, reflecting on the power of grace.

An imaginative affair, “Dreams” marches to the beat of its own drummer, Gardner rocking some smooth falsetto notes throughout the compelling composition as “139” showcases some more hip-hop flair with its vibrant beat and almost percussive vocal, accented by warm horns. “Redemption In Motion” keeps the creative coming and “Zion” works a subtle arrangement to deliver one of the record’s most poignant lines as Gardner sings, “Maybe in the end it is Zion that we’re lonely for.”

“Light After Darkness” delivers big, bold sounds, layered vocals working over throbbing percussion and bright keyboards, expanding into a chorus that showcases some solid pop sensibilities with a tight hook before “Fix My Eyes” opens with a dramatic flurry of guitars that ebb into a restless round of keys and percussion, Gardner easing through the verse and soaring for the chorus. “How Deep” is a slow builder that becomes a musical art fest, horns and strings and flutes and who knows what else coloring in the lines while the strong vocal and time honored lyric keep things focused. And with the dramatic strings and horns of “Defender,” Kings Kaleidoscope bring their album to a close.

Compelling and creative while being faithful to the mission of worship, Kings Kaleidoscope have crafted a record that defies convention and wanders into uncharted musical land. And what they’ve found there is nothing short of great as Becoming Who You Are is easily one of the better worship releases to be heard this year.

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