Vertical XL is Los Angeles resident Kingdom’s fifth EP. Former EPs like That Mystic (2010) and Dreama (2011) have seen Kingdom master a hybrid evolution of grimey bass music and soulful RnB.
Vertical XL see Kingdom’s merging and fusion of polar sounds continue. Track length from previous expeditions has shortened for punchier impact, whilst still resonating warmth.
The EP covers a lot of emotional terrain within its spiralling structure, whilst avoiding cheesiness. Vertical XL is an American reflection of dissonant and dirty UK bass/grime sounds, compiled in a sophisticated RnB structure and avoiding cliche pop “EDM” sounds in favour of a minimalistic and atmospheric approach.
Beginning track ‘Bank Head’ features Fade to Mind label vocalist Kelela’s backing lyrics, which add extra class to the 4-4 snare rhythm on a simple 3-chord synth melody. This is followed by ‘Zip Line’, an interlude running through the same melodic structure as ‘Bank Head’, without lyrics and with different beat structure.
Next track ‘Corpse’ travels into darker beats, with more space and no sweeping synths that contain an overall menace in melody and keys. ‘OG Master’ continues on this line of minimalistic (although maintaining heaviness) percussive sound, stripping the sound right back to harsh bass tones and grimey necessities whilst still maintaining Vertical XL‘s objective cleanliness.
This aesthetic is continued in next track ‘Viper Lash’, which paces insidiously before emerging from the dungeon in the final third of the track with uplifting and eerie synths. This eerieness is continued in the contemplative ‘Takedown Notice’, stripped back even further to a single snare hit on each bar on top of a relaxed and sensual moogy landscape.
Final track ‘Viper XL’ is a perfect and uplifting anthemic outro to Vertical XL. The EP as a whole was executed professionally and atmospherically as an entire composition, although not particularly groundbreaking or truely offering any new creative insight within electronica as a whole. But in terms of assumed interpretation of individual artistic vision, Kingdom is hitting paydirt.