King, the trio formed by twin sisters Paris and Amber Strother and their friend Anita Bias, are way too popular now, people know all the lyrics and their songs have become some serious sing-alongs. On Friday night, as King was performing a free concert at Figueroa & 7th Downtown Los Angeles, people got into a lot of singing and clapping to follow the spacey rhythms of the women’s songs and I wanted to shush them because these girls’ harmonies are too good to have the crowd’s voice and noise cover them. But I guess people had too much fun and there was no way i was about to spoil their good time, I looked at them and they all were making delighted faces, melting of pure happiness.
I had seen King once, about two years ago, and their supernatural sound (that’s also the title of one of their songs) had stayed intact in my memory. The three women are so bold they call themselves King, not even queens or princesses, but they got a royal endorsement by Prince himself, who immensely appreciates their music. He discovered them on YouTube — what? Prince actually uses the internet? — and asked them to open for him.
King’s vocals are old-school, but they manage to mix all sorts of sounds floating between neo-soul, R&B, gospel and jazz but the result is so sweet, so silky that you think you are bathing in a cloud of honey. It is a never-ending piling of layers of dreamy harmonies, although mostly two of them really sing while Paris Strother is the keyboardist. So it is a sort of mystery how they manage to get these impressive layers of vocals, spiraling around each other, while the music, even the beats, is only provided by Paris on her wobbling keyboard and synths. Surprisingly, there are no drums or bass to back them up, the sound stays very minimal and lo-fi, as the main element are the voices, the foliated vocal harmonies, complex and precise, almost elastic in the way they are done, but heartwarming and fluid, with some jazzy flavors and a sweetness component that reminds me of Stevie Wonder.
All I can say is that the crowd was constantly cheering, there was so much love for King on Friday night! When I turned around to see the audience, I could see every face with a large smile, it was as if King’s music was pure ecstasy bringing a magical dose of happiness, with another layer of sweet icing melting against people’s eardrums.
It is true that they produce a rare form of harmonies, vibrating, undulating, as fluid as they are sophisticated, I would not qualify their music as R&B, it would be too simplistic, and you will certainly not hear any screaming or competition between their voices, as it is often the case in the current R&B scene, rather you can observe a great deal of complicity between the three women, the three honeyed voices are there to put a spell, and they succeed each time.
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