From the opening moments of A Peaceable Kingdom‘s first track, “Double Gyres,” it’s difficult to pinpoint just what will become of The Golden Sores’ new record. Will the droning organ discard its slow buzzing sustain for a more prominent melody? Will the tones that take the forefront become a lead-in to post-rock leanings? How many layers will they use, and will they combine together in an effervescent climax?
As is soon apparent, though, The Golden Sores bring about an uplifting drone concept. Fuzzy, shifting, and pulsing layers push and pull, finally converging together in most songs to create a swell that is often magical and high-spirited. Oftentimes, drone can be a very dark genre, focusing more on the low end of the audial spectrum rather than higher notes. The Golden Sores prove that bleak, grim songs are not the only compositions to entrance a listener, however, as their hypnotic brand of peaceful (as the title suggests) and exultant drone is so effective in inducing trance-like qualities in the listener that it serves less as ambience and more as a sense of enlightenment.
Most of the songs on this disc tend towards a simple setup – start with a slow-moving rhythm, preferably one with sustained chords, snake in a more melodic and generally louder layer, and gradually move towards a crescendo of shimmery bliss. But while almost every song on the album follows this format, it doesn’t get repetitive simply because of how varied each song becomes. There’s something to be said about Steve Fors’ and Chris Miller’s virtuosity with their keyboards and their push-pull duality. When the layers are apart, they are constantly thriving around and through each other, where the listener loses no focus on either part. When they are together, it feels rightfully so: an inevitable convergence of two patterns that creates a stronger whole.
One may be thinking that The Golden Sores’ more upbeat, optimistic sound would lose their interest; part of the draw of some noise and drone is its confrontational demeanor. A Peaceable Kingdom may be peaceful as a whole, but a brooding tone encapsulates parts of the lengthy songs. “The Awful Rowing Toward God” starts out menacing with low bass-y notes, only to escalate into a more joyous eruption. “We’ll Wield Fire” begins with ominous buzzing, only to slowly work in a lulling organ. And most importantly, not all of the songs collide with each other into an ecstatic climax. “Klonopin” is content to hum away in aural bliss, acknowledging the fact that it needs no flashy conclusion. For those who like their music a tad harsher, The Golden Sores deliver as well. The mix for some of the songs’ crescendos can get very loud, a suitable dynamic for the album’s more triumphant heralds. There’s a lot to like and pick out here over repeated listens, mainly because some of the more subtle layers can hide their natural elegance on first listens.s
A Peaceable Kingdom delivers its title with a grace and finesse that emphasizes the lamb that graces the album cover. Even the simple picture exudes the album’s main feature – a shimmering mass of pleasant drone that leads one to believe there’s a bright future ahead of the two artists, one that hopefully includes more of their brand of fresh, epiphanic sound to stand out in the dark wash of bleak drone.