The beginnings of Kind were about two years ago as guitarist Darryl Shepard (The Scimitar, Milligram, Hackman, Blackwolfgoat, etc.) and drummer Matt Couto (Elder) first got together to jam out loose ideas. Already it was a project worthy of attention, but as they added bassist Tom Corino of Rozamov and vocalist Craig Riggs of Roadsaw and Kind really began to take shape, it was clear something noteworthy was in the making. Their first studio release is Rocket Science, on Ripple Music, and it finds many song ideas feeling sketched out from those initial jams, structures carved in open, heavy and psychedelic spaces cast out through a range of effects in the layers of guitar and vocals.
There isn’t one member of the four-piece who doesn’t deliver a standout performance throughout the included eight tracks/49 minutes, whether that’s Corino‘s rumble pushing side A closer “Hordeolum” into highlight territory, or Riggs‘ self-harmonies on the catchy “Rabbit Astronaut,” which in less creative hands would be a Kyuss clone, or Couto‘s swing underscoring the movement in the righteously-titled “Pastrami Blaster” as Shepard prepares to mount another noise wash of layered soloing, but the prevailing impression the album makes is more about the effectiveness of the whole unit working together than any individual component involved. Likewise, Rocket Science works best taken in its complete, front-to-back run, its sonic expanse cast from opener “German for Lucy” (streamed here) to the nine-minute finale “The Angry Undertaker” and captured with considerable depth of mix by Alec Rodriguez at New Alliance Studios in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Immersive is a word I toss out a lot — and appropriately so — for heavy psychedelia, but there are times on Rocket Science when even Kind seem to be engrossed in the swirl they’re making. “German for Lucy” is one such instance, setting a pattern that several other tracks will follow in moving from initial verses and choruses into more open, jamming fare. Riggs, who’s known for more straightforward, hook-based work, doesn’t quite go full-shaman, but meets these spaces head-on with echoing repetitions and soulful belts directed upward from under the guitar and bass.
Both sides follow a pattern of opening and closing big with two shorter and generally more grounded songs between, and “Fast Number One” and “Rabbit Astronaut” are indeed more structured-feeling, but even as the latter winds through Shepard‘s fuzzy lead at the halfway point, it keeps to the atmosphere and vibe of “Germany for Lucy,” and as Kind weave into, through and around psychedelia, they do so fluidly and without sacrificing either the momentum or the liquid feel of the album, as a whole. That doesn’t seem like it’s saying much, but think of it as jumping back and forth from the cosmos to the desert and the scope might be a little clearer. I have to think the experience of these players is a factor both in letting them know where they want to be at any given moment and how they want to get there, but in both the shorter cuts and in the more cavernous “Hordeolum,” the reaches of which are some of the album’s most expansive, there’s still an air of exploration to the groove that speaks to Rocket Science being the beginning of a progression rather than functioning in already established parameters.
Launching side B, “Pastrami Blaster” is both the record’s best title and some of its finest tone from Shepard and Corino, who run concurrent through surges and breaks in the early verses and come together again after the guitar solo for a finish that feels like it could easily have gone another eight minutes or so. Only so much room on a record, I guess. “Siberia” is a swingfest from the outset and one of Riggs‘ most resonant melodies, a more laid back feel suiting Kind remarkably well even unto Couto‘s between-measure fills in the chorus, which finds the guitar stepping behind the bass and vocals, calling to mind what Vista Chino did on some of 2013’s Peace without sounding like anything other than itself as the lines, “I can hear Siberia calling me/Calling my name,” are repeated to end out.
In the early going, it doesn’t seem like the penultimate “Grogan” has much to offer that cuts like “Rabbit Astronaut” or “Fast Number One” didn’t already accomplish, but the rhythm that emerges and cycles through the first half is smooth and the choral layers that come to the fore in the ending jam are memorable enough to let it avoid being tagged as filler, though “The Angry Undertaker” makes more of an impact. Where several of Kind‘s inclusions have started out with a structure and launched outward from there — “Grogan,” for example, or “German for Lucy,” which has a definitive split just before the three-minute mark — the closer starts out dreamy and lysergic and only becomes more so as it rolls on. The longest song at 9:14, it’s also the most patient, building tension over its first couple minutes until it thrusts forward at about 3:10 and doesn’t look back from there. Resulting is a consuming wash of deceptively crunching riffs, effects, groove and noise that gives Rocket Science the apex it’s due before coming apart one element at a time. In the last minute, however, the beginning riff returns and Riggs comes back to deliver the same lines that started the first verse, “You think everything’s peaceful/You think everything’s fine/So just close your eyes,” and they end softly on that note.
It’s a move reinforcing the position that Rocket Science represents the start of a collaborative progression rather than the capstone of a one-off songwriting splurge, but the question that only time can answer is how much of a band Kind can be over the longer term. Elder released a record in 2015, Rozamov will make their full-length debut in 2016, Shepard constantly has a range of projects in the works and even if Roadsaw aren’t active at the moment, Riggs has rebuilding Mad Oak Studios and a drummer position in White Dynomite to fill his days. What that means for Kind‘s prospects over the years I expect will have much to do with how Rocket Science is generally received, but from where I sit, it’s one of 2015’s most encouraging debut releases, and the potential these players show in working together is something that seems to be begging for further development. One hopes it gets it.