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22 Aug 2016

V.A. Sound of Siam “Leftfield Luk Thung, Jazz & Molam in Thailand” 1964-1975

V.A. Sound of Siam “Leftfield Luk Thung, Jazz & Molam in Thailand” 1964-1975 


A mixture of the exotic and the familiar, drawing on off-beat influences.

Thailand means different things to different people. Beyond the beaches and tourist spots lies a world of music still waiting to be discovered. Be it spaced out jazz, raw funk or the meditative sounds of the North East, Soundway has dug deep into the country’s vinyl archives to present a broad range of vintage sounds that underlines Thailand’s status as one of South East Asia’s musical hot spots.

As Soundway’s entry point into the Asian music world, The Sound of Siam CD and double LP offers a unique vantage point to the most experimental period in Thai musical history. The 19 tracks reflect the outcome of a twentieth century journey from Thai classical to Luk Krung and Luk Thung – music that incorporated western influences such as jazz, surf guitar, ballroom and even Latin and African.

The music maps changing social demographics, the movement of people, culture and language from countryside to city and all during a period when the record labels were at their most experimental……

“My favourite comp of the year, really well sequenced & very entertaining – thumbs up all round.”
Mr Scruff……

“This is funky garage rock topped with idiosyncratic Thai vocals. If you want to know what an oriental Stone Roses would sound like, check out The Petch Phin Thong Band.”

“A fascinating trip through an alternate musical universe of Bangkok funk, traditional sounds and even reggae lilting nodders.”
Clash Music….

If Thailand’s music was as popular internationally as its food, we’d all be a lot more familiar with it. But even compared to that from other Asian nations – which are generally under-represented in the world music market – it’s pretty obscure. This compilation of luk thung (Thailand’s answer to country music), luk krung (its city cousin) and molam (a more rootsy style from the poor northern region of Isan, near the border with Laos) will thus come as a surprise for many. And an intriguing one, at that.

It’s the mixture of the exotic and the familiar that makes it so. While the frequent use of guitar, bass, keyboards and kit drums betrays the influence of the soul, rock and psychedelia of the time, the strange tonal nature of the Thai languages and the use of several local folk instruments, and their odd harmonies make it sound quite distinct. These include the sor fiddle and the khaen, a kind of bamboo mouth organ, often heard in the introductions and tooting away in the backgrounds of many tracks. As compiler Chris Menist remarks in his liner notes, some of this music has an uncanny similarity to the Ethio-jazz of Mulatu Astatqé. That’s partly because it was made in the same era, and draws on similarly off-beat Latin influences. Even so, it’s not as accessible.

Chaweewan Dumnern is referred to as the “queen of molam” and her pulsing cut Lam Toey Chaweewan seems to echo Booker T & the MGs… until you hear her sinuous vocal. But that definitely is the riff from The Rolling Stones’ Jumpin’ Jack Flash running through her Sao Lam Plearn.

Although a previous likening of the Petch Phin Thong Band to an “oriental Stone Roses” is rather fanciful, given the looseness of the rhythm section (strong drugs, mate, can I have some?), their instrumental Soul Lam Plearn is entertaining. As is another instrumental by Thong Huad and Kunp’an, which is based around a gnawing sor solo.

The “space-age music” of The Viking Combo Band features a Pink Panther-esque walking bass line, suspenseful percussion and increasingly unhinged vocals. And yes, this being music from a truly gastrocentric culture, there are two songs referencing Thailand’s fiery cuisine – som tam papaya salad and tom yum chicken, in case this is making you hungry. A balanced diet, naturally…..


01. Chaweewan Dumnern – Lam Tung Wai (3:41)
02. Chaweewan Dumnern – Lam Toey Chaweewan (3:53)
03. Onuma Singsiri – Mae Kha Som Tam (2:37)
04. Thapporn Petchubon, Noknoi Uraiporn, Thongthai Tin Isan – Isan Klab Tin (2:28)
05. Ream Daranoi – Fai Yen (4:35)
06. Panom Nopporn – Sao Ban Pok Pab (3:19)
07. Plearn Promdan – Wan Maha Sanook (2:50)
08. The Petch Phin Thong Band – Soul Lam Plearn (3:01)
09. Waipod Phetsuphan – Ding Ding Dong (2:32)
10. Saknatee Srichiangmai – Nom Samai Mai (4:04)
11. Yenjit Porntawi – Lam Plearn Toh Lom Nhao (4:08)
12. Chaweewan Dumnern – Sao Lam Plearn (4:10)
13. Dao Bandon – Mae Jom Ka Lon (3:06)
14. Sanae Petchaboon – Pen Jung Dai (2:28)
15. Thong Huad and Kunpan – Diew Sor Diew Caan (3:30)
16. Sodsri Rungsang – Uay Porn Tahan Chaydan (5:00)
17. Kawaw Siang Thong – Kai Tom Yum (3:35)
18. The Viking Combo Band – Pleng Yuk Owakard (3:07)
19. Dao Bandon – Tang Ngarn Si Nong (3:54)

johnkatsmc5, welcome music..