Photo: Steven Gregory
San Francisco-based alt-rock outfit Keepers of Humanity introduces their brand-new EP, Pansori, exploring themes such as paying homage to familial roots, finding peace in the love of a soulmate, and suppressing the passionate need to fulfill your parents’ dreams.
The EP’s title – Pansori – refers to the ancient Korean art of rhythmic storytelling.
Guitarist Steven Bonaccorso shares, “With an eclectic mix of genres, ‘Pansori’ constantly surprises listeners with inviting yet immediate songs that hold your attention from start to finish. It was really fun working with producer Mat Gilbert to push ourselves and our sound in new directions.”
Made up of Jean Nanjo (vocals, piano, keyboards), Rudy Choy (bass), Steven Bonaccorso (guitars), and Alexi Robins (drums), Keepers of Humanity is frequently likened to Kate Bush, Tori Amos, and Amanda Palmer, while their sound merges elements of psych, blues, metal, punk, ambient, and classical music.
Encompassing five tracks, Pansori begins with “Intersection,” a reimagining of the closing track on the band’s 2019 album, Freedom in the Chaos. “Intersection” rolls out on a contagious, swaying rhythm topped by Nanjo’s evocative vocals, revealing an array of alluring, timbral nuances. Along with Robins’ superb drumming, Choy’s stout bassline holds the tune together.
Talking about “Intersection,” Jean Nanjo shares, “The lyrics reflect many times in life when I’ve experienced the need to break free, whether that was when leaving a bad relationship, fighting racial discrimination as a Korean American woman, clashing with musicians over creative differences, and more. Like I say in the song, ‘Let me be me.’ ‘Intersection’ is also a tribute to the musicians I look up to who have found success in remaining true to their own sound.”
Highlights on the EP include the title track, with its dark bassline and low-slung, growling guitars. Nanjo’s voice and phrasing conjure up suggestions of Grace Slick, oozing clinging, passionately urgent tones juxtaposed against a male voice singing in Korean.
“Fantasy at Daybreak” ties the EP off with a dream-like melody blending a trickling, quixotic piano with Choy’s thick, pulsing bassline. There’s a psychedelic lullaby feel to the song, giving it a surreal motion underscored by sailing strings. Ranging from clipped inflections to wistful sighs, Nanjo’s vocals imbue the lyrics with subtle shades of emotion.
Drenched in sweeping stylistic flavors, Pansori unveils the sheer potential of Keepers of Humanity, resulting in a superb EP, one that warrants attention.