Khruangbin - Con Todo El Mundo (Vinyl)

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Khruangbin are a largely instrumental Houston trio that take elements of ’60s and ’70s Thai funk, soul, psych, R&B, surf, and jazz and pull it all into the same spacious but distinct sonic universe.

Con Todo el Mundo is the second studio album by American musical trio from heaven. It was released January 26, 2018 under Dead Oceans and Night Time Stories. On their second album, the Houston-based instrumental trio crafts a unique, psychedelic vibe that hangs between continents and eras.

With their 2015 debut The Universe Smiles Upon You taking heavy inspiration from Thai funk from the 60s and 70s, the Texan trio have broadened their pallet to include sounds of the Middle East and Mediterranean funk and soul. With multiple track titles in Spanish, nods are also made to Latin America, particularly bassist Laura Lee’s Mexican heritage. In times of division in some parts of the US and beyond, Con Todo El Mundo is a refreshing project. Undoubtedly, this record is a mile away from a seething statement; it is airy and cinematic, but a consideration of its context only enhances the grooves.

Leading single “Maria También” tells a tale of female liberation in Iran prior to the 1979 revolution, its video features a series of shots of Iranian singers, songwriters and performers since exiled from their country. Sonically, the song takes inspiration from Iranian and Middle-Eastern funk, with guitarist Mark Speer able to take centre stage and show off mesmerising technical prowess.

“Como Te Quiero” is a languid, floating number in which echoes of Spanish can just about be made out. The guitar work could be the soundtrack to staring into a clear sky. “Lady and Man” finishes with more attitude, tinged with humour, and a chant that will resonate with many: ‘I went to college, I could have been a doctor/ I could have been a lawyer / Oh come on, not that again”. Elsewhere, “Evan Finds a Room” is probably the moment at which the record is most conducive to a boogie, playing out like an infectious blend of understated disco and Asian funk (honestly, it works).

Khruangbin tapped into the depths of their global influences on long car journeys through Texan landscapes on their way to rehearsals. Con Todo el Mundo feels like a record to be enjoyed in transit, towards somewhere sunny, optimistic, exciting. The band soon embark on winter and spring tours, and as a live outfit, they will transport you to warmer times.



Khruangbin craft atmosphere music that never fades into the background, like some endless curl of smoke that keeps pluming upward. Sprinkled with snippets of spoken word, faint vocal melodies, and ranging and impeccably performed guitar solos, the whole of their second record, Con Todo El Mundo is, in effect, a long and pleasant head nod that seems to hang between continents and eras. The group—whose name is a transliteration of the Thai word for “airplane”—elicits the same eclectic enjoyment of any number of artists that came of age around the turn of the century, from the laid-back trip-hop feel of Kruder & Dorfmeister to dub-jammy Thievery Corporation: Ethereal instrumental music that might be described as “world” as shorthand for its range of melody, rhythm, and overall vibe. But the Houston-based instrumental trio makes music that’s a little more dusty, frayed around the edges, and personal.

Though clearly informed by psychedelic rock, the primary influence that fueled their 2015 debut, The Universe Smiles Upon You, was Thai funk, music that bassist Laura Lee and guitarist Mark Speer found by scouring the Thai music blog, Monrakplengthai. Speer was in a gospel band with hip-hop producer and drummer Donald “DJ” Johnson, who became the third member, adding the more influences to the blend, and plenty of breakbeats. But Con Todo El Mundo broadens the group’s sound, maintaining the funk but also adding bits and pieces of Caribbean, Indian, and Middle Eastern music. Iran is the obvious touchstone in “Maria También,” whose video directly addresses women’s rights in that country. Throw in a few retro surf riffs and whispered vocal lines and you’ve got an aesthetic that feels at home at any beach or desert in the world.

From the laidback first few seconds of guitar, bass, and organ that begins “Cómo Me Quieres” (“How do you love me?” )—the question answered by the album’s title Con Todo El Mundo (“With all the world”)—it’s clear that this music might be the perfect accompaniment to just about any somewhat passive activity. Cooking? Studying? Walking? Riding the bus? Khruangbin have your back. Need to speed it up a little? Skip to the funky, zouk-styled bounce of “Evan Finds the Third Room.” Relaxing around the house on a Sunday afternoon? Try the loping slowness of “A Hymn.” Every track is profoundly pleasant and, at times, even danceable, in a crunchy kind of way.

Perhaps this is music for the Spotify era; a flowchart of sounds spawned from a range of music connected by the wonders of algorithmic technology. Describing how musical influence can be found anywhere, drummer Johnson describes Shazaming tunes in his local pho restaurant, and the band also offers a curated Spotify playlists for listeners. Each one contains music that influenced the band while recording and allows the playlist to be tailored to the length of an airplane journey and tweaked according to the mood. It may read like a slight to say that Con Todo El Mundo sounds like the result of an algorithm, but it’s an algorithm that reflects the way music is now consumed. Every week listeners “discover” new rhythms catered to an activity or previous selections. But it also allows, maybe, just maybe, for what was once called “world music” to slide into these shuffled, technologically selected playlists. Khruangbin’s takes this new mode of listening and injects its own singular and developing personality into the playlisting of modern music.

 


1. "Cómo Me Quieres" 3:45
2. "Lady and Man" 4:18
3. "Maria También" 3:10
4. "August 10" 4:25
5. "Cómo Te Quiero" 4:02
6. "Shades of Man" 3:47
7. "Evan Finds the Third Room" 4:00
8. "A Hymn" 3:10
9. "Rules" 4:29
10. "Friday Morning" 6:50



Art Direction, Layout – Tiny Frees 
Bass, Vocals, Handclaps, Producer – Laura Lee 
Drums – Donald Johnson, Jr
Guest [Friend], Pedal Steel Guitar – Will Van Horn
Guest [Friend], Percussion – Charlie Perez 
Guest [Friend], Vibraphone – Chase Jordan
Guitar, Vocals, Mellotron, Percussion, Producer, Photography By [Cover] – Mark Speer
Photography By [Back Cover] – Mary Kang
Recorded By [Additional] – Chris Longwood, Jonathan Lee Chan
Recorded By, Mixed By, Producer – Steve Christensen
Written-By, Arranged By – Khruangbin


Recorded by [....] at The Farm Burton, Tx & The Treehouse, Houston, Tx
Additional recording by [....] at Sugarhill Studios Houston Tx

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