Khruangbin - Con Todo El Mundo

by Jack Kiser Rating:8 Release Date:2018-01-26
Khruangbin - Con Todo El Mundo
Khruangbin - Con Todo El Mundo

On Khruangbin’s second effort, a lucid, airy transfiguration gracefully unfolds, traveling through the desert plains without haste. While there is seemingly a lack of literary elements incorporated in the record, the lush instrumentation dexterously gives the listener all the resources to visualize their own sonic landscape. Of course, one can assume that the title of this record Con Todo El Mundo (“With The Whole World”) willingly plugs in intricate influences from a plethora of different countries. Texas, specifically, a state that is known for its generous combination of Latin culture, has evident breezy undertones from Spain and Mexico. However, it shouldn’t be overlooked that their roots are directly siphoned from many innovators in the Thai stratosphere.

As mentioned previously, Khruangbin’s humble origins begin in Texas, mainly in the small 300 person town known as Burton. This charming borough is located dead center between two of the most musically important cities in the state, Austin and Houston. Additionally, a frivolous fallacy that delicately underlies this band is how such a conceptually intelligent trio can draw so much global cognition from such a small area? It’s easy, some people utilize their background as a stepping stone to illustrate something bigger. Not only is Khruangbin’s appreciation of worldly presence astounding, but their steadfast work ethic is unmatched. Shortly after releasing their dazzling debut, The Universe Smiles Upon You, the group embarked on a grueling worldwide tour for the better part of two years. Highlights from their journey include a star-studded accompaniment with celebrated figures Father John Misty and Tycho. Other stops include reputable festivals like Desert Dazed, ACL, and Glastonbury that has already locked in a customer base that gravitates towards their signature earthy neo-psychedelia.

With all this abundant exposure, many labels were salivating over claiming them in their roster spot. Over the past decade, Dead Oceans growth and dominance among the other indie labels stands out among the rest. With the recent acquisition of thrashing four-piece, Shame, and sweet swooning from the ever emotional Phoebe Bridgers, their superb catalog only continues to get even more eye-catching. And with the successful scoop of Khruangbin, this label has become downright dangerous.

Khruangbin originates from the Thai word “engine fly” and can be tied with the meaning of “airplane.” The takeoff of the band’s style can be up for interpretation, but one thing is certain, all compositions have their recognizably porous breeziness. The Thai elements are scattered all over this record, chalk full of funk-laden percussion and jangly soul guitars. Each position in the band is vital to the beat of this infectious trio, the tranquility brought by the stunning Laura Lee sets the stage for guitarist Mark Speer to take us on camelback. Donald “DJ” Johnson is in an element all his own, exhibiting all the special percussion instruments uniquely tied to each culture. Through each track’s cursive transition into each other, it is easy to become musically suspended in the arid atmosphere. The opening song, “Como Me Quieres” (How Much Do You Love Me), eases the listener into a swirl of funky syncopation with some apparent Spanish psychedelic guitar work. “Lady and Man” has free form harmony, flowing up and down the fret, with subtle additions of marimba. Hushed vocals in the background whisper “Should have been a doctor, should have been a lawyer” comically displaying high expectations other people or themselves are held to. The first single they released for this project “Maria Tambien” is a Middle Eastern instrumental homage to many women whose voices have been shamefully silenced. You can hear a gallop in the robust bass lines and hop in the snare, acting like a dubious venture through the dry portrait of Iran. The continuous oppression against women is still a daunting obstacle for many countries in the Middle East, but the exposure through their music video, appropriately sheds light on the topic. Moving forward, if I am not mistaken, I was able to observe balanced background vocals that have a Western Africa feel to it. “A Hymn” lays down gospel-funk with well-adjusted bass echo, while “Rules” adds a splash of jazz drumming and bouncing guitars that will send your head spinning 360. Lastly, the second single released, “Friday Morning,” one of my personal favorites, finally allows for Lee’s distant voice to be heard in much more spacey atmosphere. For those who like the shorter versions of songs, they released a radio edit clocking at just over four minutes.

Khruangbin is certainly not afraid of work, in contrast, far from it. Engaging on lucrative tours, promotion campaigns, can drain anyone, but this is where the trio has strived. Obviously their worldwide touring has allowed for them to soak up exceptional characteristics from various cultures. They have channeled all that they have learned into their superb second album, showing their love for all people of the world. While the effort was enjoyable, many of the compositions seemed to bleed into each other, making them arguably uniform to an inexperienced listener. Each track can be lost into one big mellow mumbo-jumbo, but nonetheless, their work is refined and well mixed. Con Todo El Mundo will definitely be in the highlights for January releases.

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