As I’ve noted time and time again, Kristina Esfandiari is the queen of lush, unearthly doom folk. Whether the Bay Area native-turned-Brooklyn transplant is busy lending her gilded pipes to her lo-fi solo project, Miserable, or ramping up the intensity as the gut-wrenching vocalist for the droning doomgaze of King Woman, Esfandiari’s performances are led by the kind of hot, fierce passion that feels rarer and rarer in our current darkness. Her throaty, malleable contralto and entrancing stage presence are mere symptoms of the fire that rages deep inside her, but those outward signifiers burn mighty brightly.
Despite her lone wolf vibe, Esfandiari is a creature of collaboration. In King Woman, she is joined in darkness with the masterfully understated artistry of her bandmates Colin Gallagher’s spiraling riffs, Joey Raygoz ’s funereal percussion, and new Peter Arensdorf’s subterranean basslines. The end result is oppressive, and beautiful, and engrossing; it surrounds and envelops its listener, drawing a richly-embroidered veil of distortion, drone, and warm shoegaze down across closed eyes. On record, it’s a revelation; live, it’s revolutionary.
To quote myself, via Noisey, the band’s debut EP, Doubt, is “rich with gorgeously layered drones and Colin Gallagher’s languid doom riffs, sworn to turgid tempos from [former] bassist Sky Madden and drummer Joey Raygoza, and shot through with heavy doses of shoegaze (it’s worth noting that Esfandiari’s previous musical incarnation was as the vocalist for meddlesome loud-soft-loud purveyors Whirr, and still moonlights in downer duo Miserable).
Her voice—oh! that voice—is the centerpiece, swathed as it is in warm storms of distortion and delay. Esfandiari croons and mourns like PJ Harvey covering Jex Thoth (or perhaps the other way ’round). That husky, earthy contralto sways and soars through these murder-of-faith ballads, drawing eyes to the stars whilst its accompaniment points towards thickets hiding woodland graves.”
Doubt was written during a serious crisis of faith, as Esfandiari struggled to finally take her leave from the oppressive Christian environment in which she had been raised. Their loss has been our gain, as Esfandiari continues to shine and King Woman ’s star continues to rise. Their upcoming Roadburn debut is due to be the cresting moment of their career’s ongoing sine wave of high points (and one hopes we’ll be treated to some new material).
As the faithful already knew and many more converts will soon discover, King Woman truly is the perfect Roadburn band: heavy, dark, emotional, beguiling, confrontational—and utterly irreplaceable.
Roadburn Festival 2017 will take place April 20-23 at the 013 venue, Tilburg, The Netherlands. Tickets are now on sale!
Kim Kelly, editor Noisey, Vice‘s music vertical
This entry was posted on Tuesday, December 13th, 2016 at 1:30 pm and is filed under 2016, News . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.