Artist: Various Kribo Records Artists
Album: Sounds of Lecak Vol. 1
Label: Kribo Records & Guruguru Brain & Light In The Attic Records & The Analogue Vault Records
Release Date: June 1st 2022
What better way to get to know the music of a country than to look a compilation album that was created explicitly to showcase elements of its underground music scene. I’m talking about Sounds of Lecak Vol. 1, a 20-track sampler that features music from numerous Kribo Records artists, coordinated by label owner/musician/producer Haqim Isa, aka Maggot.
These tracks combine elements of soul, funk, psychedelic rock, Thai Luk Thung, Afrobeat, jazz, Laotian Molam, disco, folk and more. This mashup of vastly different genres could easily have been a total mess, but thanks to the expert guidance and visionary production of Maggot, it all manages to fit together seamlessly. The end result of this union is an album that takes you a wild ride through both music and culture, a ride that is best to just lose yourself to and go along for the journey.
The thing about the album that really hooks me is that it feels both familiar and yet at times so very foreign. Some elements remind me of numerous classic acts from the 60s and 70s, while others are so new, refreshing, and exciting. I think what hammers things home though, is that as the album goes on, the listener gradually notices these new elements less and less as the music becomes very comfortable and familiar very quickly. Yet at the same time you slowly pick up on more and more elements on each listen. It actually gets a little dangerous as suddenly without even realising you’ve finished listening to a 20 track album in what felt like no time at all.
I would say that one commonality between all tracks on the album is an underlying level of groove and rhythm. There’s a sort of flow to the release that allows each track to seamlessly flow into the next and the rhythm from each compliments the next. You’ll find throughout that you’re unconsciously nodding your head along to the music and even when there’s a sudden tempo change it still makes sense a few seconds later.
Given that the tracks are all so vastly different and feature numerous guest artists, I think it makes the most sense to break this review down to a track-by-track level rather than talking in general album terms. Also given that there are 20 tracks I’ll pick a few favourites and keep it brief. Know that this was not an easy pick, because every track on this album is solid, but here goes:
Sitar Funk Group – Prem Durga: a fantastic opening to the album, a tonne of killer sitar and a sign that you’re in for a fantastic blend of psych, funk and folk.
The Kribo Brothers – Yokoso: an awesome and (if I’m being honest) sexy blend of funk, jazz and dub that can both help you tune out the world or get in the mood.
Wah Wah Thai – Maak: this song is just so unique, it combines what feels like country/western elements with Thailand’s unique musical influences through Luk Thung, all with a solid underlying level of funk
Hong Chungao Street Band – Luna: this is the song that was selected to be the single for the album, playing when you hit play despite being track 10, but I completely understand why. There’s something soothing and relaxing yet stimulating and captivating about this track. It features such fantastic bass work, along with a number of other killer instruments and most importantly a fantastic level of groove.
Maggot – The Great Wall of Aria: this is possibly the most stunning track on the album and I would probably say my favourite overall. The bluesy/psych tinged guitar work that makes up the entirety of the track is just incredible. There’s just so much emotional depth achieved through the use of a guitar, it honestly blows me away. Added to this are some excellent amtosphere building bass and synth, as well as some low volume whsipered breaths that give the whole thing a sort of spiritual essence.
Overall this is a fantastic offering of incredibly diverse, well written music. If you want an album that will simultaniously broaden your musical horizons, expand your mind and entertain from start to finish, then look no further. This is something that I can definitely see myself coming back to time and time again, simply because it has a little something for everyone and for every season and mood.
Listen to and order the album: