Khruangbin - Mordechai (Vinyl)

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Khruangbin (/ˈkrʌŋbɪn/ KRUNG-bin; Thai: [kʰrɯa̯ŋ˥˩.bin], เครื่องบิน) are an American musical trio from Houston, Texas, with Laura Lee on bass, Mark Speer on guitar, and Donald Ray "DJ" Johnson Jr. on drums. The band is known for blending global music influences, such as classic soul, dub and psychedelia. Their debut studio album, The Universe Smiles Upon You (2015), draws from the history of Thai music in the 1960s, specifically from Luk thung, while their second album, Con Todo El Mundo (2018), has influences from Spain and the Middle East.Speer, Lee, and DJ also host "AirKhruang" radio shows on NTS Radio and Facebook Live. 

In April 2020, Khruangbin announced they would release their album Mordechai, on June 26 via Dead Oceans and shared their lead single "Time (You & I)" 

In addition to announcing the relaunch of AirKhruang, they released the single "So We Won't Forget" and the accompanying video directed by Scott Dungate and co-produced by Wieden+Kennedy Tokyo x Nakama in May 2020.

Khruangbing released the single Pelota from their album Mordechai June 16, 2020 along with a video directed by Hugo Rodrigues Rodriguiez written by Alvaro Sotomayor and produced by Glassworks Creative Studio via Dead Oceans. In June 26, 2020 Khruangbin released their third studio album Mordechai. Laura Lee said the band wanted the album to sound like "the world, rather than any one particular part of the world,” with influences from West African, Indian, Vietnamese, German, Czech, Mexican and many more cultures. Album released through Dead Oceans. 

Times in which you might be seeking out comfort and calm in music more than ever. Enter Khruangbin, the Texan trio, whose airy instrumentals float around you like swirls of soothing incense. Their first album, 2015’s The Universe Smiles Upon You, was rooted in their discovery of ’60s-‘70s Thai psychedelia, and on their 2018 follow-up, Con Todo El Mundo ("with all the world") in bassist Laura Lee’s native Mexican – they added dashes of Iranian and Mediterranean funk to their sound, and even threw in some disco. It was a fitting title for the album, as the group effortlessly embraced disparate genres from different regions and eras and meshed them all into a perfect union.

With Mordechai, the trio continue on their globetrotting pursuits, but it’s something else in dreamy, suave opening track “First Class” that immediately stands out: lyrics. Every tune but one on Mordechai has them. Lead single “Time (You and I)” is one long bouncing disco break, Donald Johnson’s drums skipping and Mark Speer’s guitar wah-wah-ing, as Lee invites: “we can play like children play”. Following track “Connassais de Face”, a crisp, swaying number, boasting one of the best roaming basslines of the album, sees two friends shooting the breeze, one asking “shouldn’t we enjoy life?” Moments later “Pelota”, a balmy fiesta of a track, makes its timely entrance, with Speer’s trademark nimble guitar-line at its centre, and complete with Flamenco handclaps. It’s sung in Spanish, with a chorus that translates to “Right now I can be the ball” – there’s no profound philosophical message to unpack here, it just is what is: mindless, freeing fun.

The words, all from Lee’s journal which she began writing after a reinvigorating hike she was taken on by a friend named Mordechai, adds a whole new dimension to Khruangbin’s world. Their instrumentals alone already evoke plenty of feeling, and now with lyrics thrown into the mix, those feelings are reinforced, be they tender, playful or reflective. The group sit deeper than ever in their grooves on their third outing, and the moments of tranquillity are even more zen. Mordechai offers a rich, meditative escape from the world, something more welcomed than ever in the current climate.

Standard black version. Includes Download Card. Gatefold.



Khruangbin are funky force of nature. The American group with the Thai name are phenomenally creative, with the past two years alone bringing their break out album - 2018’s ‘Con Todo El Mundo’ - a dub re-casting, a full EP alongside Leon Bridges, and even an in-flight playlist generator.

All that activity hasn’t dulled their pen, however – ultra-minimalist and hugely suggestive, new album ‘Mordechai’ is a triumph of poise and rhythmic purpose, gently nudging their songwriting in fresh directions while retaining the intoxicating elements that made ‘Con Todo El Mundo’ such a stellar word-of-mouth success.

Opening gambit ‘First Class’ is a glacial introduction, all tone and texture, it’s cool, calm, and clear waters the perfect birthing pond for Khruangbin’s next creation. ‘Time (You And I)’ returns to familiar funky ground, yet with a neat twist – inspired by Japanese cinema, there’s a cinematic bent to their narrative songwriting thrust.

‘Father Bird, Mother Bird’ overwhelms in undulations, while ‘If There Is No Question’ beguiles with a gnomic, almost zen-like sense of peace. ‘One To Remember’ incorporates subtle dub influences, the vast possibilities of the echo chamber used to refine their palette following last year’s ‘Hasta El Cielo’ project.

‘Dearest Alfred’ has a sombre sense of belonging, while the guitar pirouettes on closer ‘Shida’ contain some Middle Eastern flourishes, billowing and falling with soft restraint.

Speckled with cultural transfusion, Khruangbin’s funk is global in its pursuit, but intensely refined. There’s little more than three musicians at work at any one time, meaning that highlights such as ‘So We Won’t Forget’ billow from speaker to speaker like smoke across a late night rooftop. It’s wonderfully suggestive, the restrained palette somehow suggesting entire worlds in the merest melodic flourish.

Intensely relaxing, wonderfully addictive, and ultra-mellow, ‘Moredechai’ is this summer’s sunset record.

By: Robin Banks


A1 First Class
Drums [Drum Kit], Vocals – Deej*
Electric Bass, Vocals – LL*
Electric Guitar, Synthesizer [Minimoog], Vocals, Congas, Cowbell, Claves, Shaker, Bells, Tambourine – Marko*
Vibraphone – Chase Jordan
4:46


A2 Time (You and I)
Congas, Bongos, Drums [Quica], Percussion [Flexatone], Shaker, Timbales – Charlie Perez (2)
Drums, Vocals, Handclaps, Electric Piano [Rhodes] – Deej*
Electric Bass, Vocals, Handclaps – LL*
Electric Guitar, Vocals, Handclaps, Congas, Cowbell, Tambourine, Triangle, Vibraslap, Agogô, Electronic Drums [Synare] – Marko*
Pedal Steel Guitar – Will Van Horn
Rototoms – John Adams (11)
Synthesizer [Minimoog] – Cleo "Pookie" Sample*
5:42


A3 Connaissais De Face
Bongos – Charlie Perez (2)
Drums, Vocals – Deej*
Electric Bass, Vocals – LL*
Electric Guitar, Vocals, Synthesizer [Minimoog], Congas, Cowbell, Tambourine, Triangle – Marko*
Pedal Steel Guitar – Will Van Horn
4:20


A4 Father Bird, Mother Bird
Drums – Deej*
Electric Bass – LL*
Electric Guitar, Mellotron, Congas, Cowbell, Vibraslap, Bells – Marko*
3:05


A5 If There Is No Question
Drums, Vocals – Deej*
Electric Bass, Vocals – LL*
Electric Guitar, Vocals, Mellotron, Congas, Tambourine, Cowbell, Bells – Marko*
Organ [Hammond] – Cleo "Pookie" Sample*
Pedal Steel Guitar – Will Van Horn
5:53


B1 Pelota
Congas, Bongos, Cowbell, Timbales, Shaker – Charlie Perez (2)
Drums, Handclaps – Deej*
Electric Bass, Vocals, Handclaps – LL*
Electric Guitar, Vocals, Handclaps, Organ [Farfisa], Tambourine, Cabasa, Agogô – Marko*
2:47


B2 One To Remember
Drums, Vocals – Deej*
Electric Bass, Vocals – LL*
Electric Guitar, Vocals, Synthesizer [Minimoog], Synthesizer [Synare], Tambourine, Dholak, Guiro, Cowbell, Shaker – Marko*
Pedal Steel Guitar – Will Van Horn
4:30


B3 Dearest Alfred
Drums, Vocals – Deej*
Electric Bass, Vocals – LL*
Electric Guitar, Vocals, Mellotron, Synthesizer [Minimoog], Congas, Percussion [Frogs], Bells – Marko*
Vibraphone – Chase Jordan
3:58


B4 So We Won’t Forget
Drums, Vocals – Deej*
Electric Bass, Vocals – LL*
Electric Guitar, Vocals, Synthesizer [Minimoog], Synthesizer [Synare], Congas, Tambourine, Claves, Agogô – Marko*
Pedal Steel Guitar – Will Van Horn
4:58


B5 Shida
Drums, Vocals – Deej*
Electric Bass, Vocals – LL*
Electric Guitar, Vocals, Mellotron, Tambourine, Congas, Dholak, Triangle – Marko*
Pandeiro, Drum [Dumbek] – Charlie Perez (2)
Pedal Steel Guitar – Will Van Horn

4:33



Standard black version. Includes Download Card. Gatefold.

Companies, etc.
Recorded At – The Farm, Burton, TX
Recorded At – Terminal C
Mixed At – Terminal C
Phonographic Copyright (p) – Dead Oceans
Copyright (c) – Dead Oceans
Credits
Lyrics By – Speer*
Lyrics By, Artwork, Design – Ochoa*
Music By, Producer – Khruangbin
Recorded By, Mixed By, Producer – Steve Christensen

Standard black version. Includes Download Card. Gatefold.