Khun Narin

(Copyright © 2012 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )

Electric Phin Band (2014) , 7.5/10
II (2016) , 6/10

Khun Narin's Electric Phin Band (Innovative Leisure, 2014), was recorded in 2014 for the first time by a California producer traveling to a remote village (Lom Sak) of nothern Thailand. They played a kind of party music called "phin prayuk" ("phin" being a home-made amplified three-stringed lute), and the line-up changed from time to time, including a broad range of age groups, from children to elderly men. There is an exuberant Lai Sing, more easily recognizable as folk dance music, basically the Thai equivalent of a bluegrass progression, and there is a more more melodic (instrumental) chant Sut Sanaen #2; but, surprisingly, the music of the eleven-minute Lam Phu Thai is reminiscent of the psychedelic jams from the 1960s, with the phin playing the role of the electric guitar, sounding like a combination of the Incredible String Band and Iron Butterfly 's In A Gadda Da Vida, with a the crescendo of the phin that border on the frenzy of an Indian raga. That style is even more articulate and vertigo-like in the 19-minute Show Wong Khun Narin, this time fueled by a pounding tribal rhythm. The guitar (oops, i meant the "phin") weaves melodic variation after melodic variation of what could be the "spaghetti western" soundtrack. It is a relentless cascade of brilliantly colored chords and riffs over a rolling carpet of percussion that shapes the most transcendent of village parties.

II (Innovative Leisure, 2016) was vastly less inventive. The first pieces seem influenced by Ennio Morricone's spaghetti-western soundtracks: the instrumental exotic guitar overture Phua Kao, that sounds like an unreleased track by Santana and Santo & Johnny; and the synthetic lounge jazz Phom Rak Mueang Thai. Then there's something like mournful Japanese music (Baisi Sukhwan) followed by a couple of sprightly folk dances (Sao Kalasin Lam Phloen and especially the soulful Scottish-sounding Chakkim Kap Tokto). The eight-minute Thang Yai Thang Yao starts slow but picks up speed and whirls around like a demonic gypsy dance, and towards the ends switches to what sounds like a bluegrass hoedown. Some of the results, notably Long Wat, are engaging, catchy and stomping, but there's nothing here to shock like on the first album. This is simply a revival of melodic instrumental music of the 1960s, particularly the Farfisa beach bands of California.

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(Copyright © 2012 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
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