VAR­I­OUS ARTISTS The Sound of Siam, Left­field Luk-Thung, Jazz & Mo­lam in Thai­land 1964-1975

Pasatiempo - - Pasa Tempos -

(Sound­way) Mo­lam is a type of Thai mu­sic that sounds like Afrobeat col­lid­ing into cha-cha with a heavy dose of raw Par­lia­ment-era funk. “Lam Tung Wai,” the knock­out mo­lam track by Chawee­wan Dum­n­ern that opens this al­bum, is a siz­zler that is im­pos­si­ble to get out of your head. The ’70s Thai jazz that in­fuses this an­thol­ogy seems to have an­tic­i­pated the mash-up a good three decades ahead of its ap­pear­ance on the in­ter­net. Us­ing in­flu­ences from surf rock, reg­gae, In­done­sian pop, Latin ball­room, and African dance mu­sic, luk-thung — ba­si­cally ru­ral Thai pop mu­sic — is de­li­ciously in­fec­tious. It is re­verb­heavy and bounces to a syn­co­pated rhythm. It sounds like the mu­sic of James Brown if he had scored a kung-fu flick with back­ing from a Ja­vanese game­lan en­sem­ble and a New Or­leans brass band. This col­lec­tion sounds like noth­ing — and ev­ery­thing — you’ve heard be­fore. There’s hardly a weak track in the bunch, but for new­com­ers to this mu­sic, “Mae Jom Ka Lon” by Thai su­per­star Dao Ban­don is a great place to start. It’s a brass-heavy groove that gets an as­sist from the deft use of Afro-Cuban güiros (gourds) and Ban­don’s soar­ing, hon­eyed bari­tone. This disc, which in­cludes a 24-page book­let with pho­tos and sto­ries ex­plain­ing the era’s Thai mu­sic scene, is a trea­sure trove of songs that are at once both ex­otic and deeply fa­mil­iar, ex­per­i­men­tal and time­less. — Casey Sanchez

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