Thursday, March 31, 2016


New Yorker: ... Khruangbin plays a spellbinding twist on surf rock and soul that would be considered trite if it weren’t so appetizing. The band’s origins are delightfully nerdy: Speer bonded with the bassist Laura Lee and the drummer Donald Johnson over lo-fi digital rips of cassette tapes featuring obscure Thai funk bands from the sixties and seventies, which they’d downloaded from the cult blog Monrakplengthai. The cassette tapes catalogue stray releases from Thai musicians who, influenced by imported rock records from bands like Santana and the Shadows, blended the misty, coiling guitars of foundational rock and roll with the melodic sensibilities of their own traditional folk tunes. Many of the songs were used in Bollywood films, reaching wide swaths of Southeast Asian audiences. “Shadow music,” as the sound came to be called, is exhilarating in part for its traceable roots. Several cuts would fit seamlessly into your favorite countercultural film score, were it not for vocalists unspooling lyrics in their native tongue.

Speer, Lee, and Johnson would return to these tapes sporadically when they gathered in a barn in Burton, Texas (in addition to conferring via Skype when Lee briefly relocated to London), to write and record “Universe.” (The band’s name means “airplane” in Thai, but none of the members claim roots in the South Asian country.) ...

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