The Paradise Bangkok Molam International Band – Planet Lam

planetlamThis is quite unlike anything I’ve heard before. Caveat: This is only the second example of  Thai music I’ve knowingly listened to, the first was an album of traditional music by Pong Lang.

This is apparently a reinvigoration of a traditional style known as Molam. Also, there is quite clearly at least one westerner in this line-up. Look at the dude on the right, who may have at least some reponsibility for the obvious western influence in some of the tunes, The Adventures of Sinsai especially combining a fairly standard rock beat and bassline with a wonderful Thai style melody played on an instrument I cannot guess at to marvellous effect. They also incorporate dub stylings very well indeed at times. My favourite tune, the indescribably wonderful Namtok (Waterfall) is impossible to put into words, really laid back with a sparse backdrop and meandering guitar over the top. Indeed, there’s a passage of tunes in the middle of the album that really, really, float my boat. The narrative of the album seems to get more and more traditional as it continues.

It doesn’t sound a million miles from folk music at times, which might be a silly thing to say because Molam is probably a folk music by definition. In fact, there might be a clue there. I wonder how much similarity there is across the various folk musics across the world? Then perhaps, supposing you’ve already clocked the strange similarities in mythologies across the world, and for the sake of argument may have noticed similarities in certain rituals from different parts too… well, makes y’think. If thinking is your thang, anyway.

 

Horse Cult – Day Dreams & Night Mares

horsecult I don’t think I’ve listened to enough Neo-folk over the years. I mean, I love Espers and still play them often, and I’ve got an album by The Iditarod which is wyrd neo-folk, but either there’s not much of the stuff around, or I simply haven’t crossed paths with it.

Well I can now add Horse Cult to that small collection. This is really good stuff, as good as the aforementioned Epsers. The songs have a more traditional feel with occasional medieval/nursery rhyme type things going on. But there’s also drone, and experiments, and a dense atmosphere of acoustic guitars, flute, fiddle, mountain dulcimer and layered vocals, with a bit of drum. And they reference all the pretty little horses. Also, I once or twice found myself thinking of The Battle of Evermore. Again.

I think I need more neo-folk / dark folk / heathen folk in my life. There seem to be some references here I might follow up. Any other suggestions would also be welcome.

Forndom – Dauðra Dura

forndomScandinavia, especially Sweden, seems to have an uncommonly large influence on the world of music. Much of what I have been exposed to could perhaps be ‘explained’ as the Swedes taking a form from elsewhere in the Western world, doing their thang with it and giving it back with a cheeky Swedish grin. It can be easy to forget they have their own traditions, but then I suppose it can be easy to forget that anywhere has its own traditions if the surface of the ultra-shallow Western Monoculture is to be believed.

A monoculture which tries to pretend death doesn’t exist. Which is an even bigger reason we need true artists around. Such as Forndom

Known to his mum as L. Sward, Forndom is a multi-instrumentalist, artist and photographer making music in the Norse ballad tradition set to a dark ambient atmosphere. There’s also quite a few tags around ‘death metal’ but you won’t find any detuned or distorted guitars here, just acoustic ones. And drones. And chants. And violins.

It is a very meditative listen, a sombre sound, and it is in no hurry to go anywhere. When you enter The Doors of the Dead, you’re on their time.

Villagers of Ioannina City

They also seem to shorten themselves to VIC quite regularly.

This was a band I came about completely by accident. I think I was trying to find any recent stuff by The Heads, and maybe a soulseek user had this in a silly folder, which confused me into thinking that indeed there was new stuff by The Heads called Riza. Mistakes like this can happen more often. It also synched somewhat with my love of Narcosatanicos and their brass/punk/psych mashup, which I got into around the same time.

Musically, they play a fairly straightforward heavy psychrock/slightly postrock feel with an exceptional feature – the use of the clarinet. It adds such an extra dimension. Given that the majority of their words are also sung in their native Greek (I assume so, anyway – I don’t speak Greek!), this adds up to a kind of mystic quality to the music, from the perspective of a mono-linguistic, culturally ignorant Englishman.

I’ve really got into listening to music sung in different languages over the last few years, and I think I love it so much because I can just listen to the sound of the vocals as they interact with the music, without getting hung up on meanings per se. Also, I believe that artists will always express themselves most naturally if they do so in idioms that they are most comfortable with.

As with all the great music I have discovered via Soulseek, I since found a way of paying them for it, as they have a bandcamp page and use my favourite payment model (pay what you like).

They’ve also very recently put out a two-track release which seems to emphasise the folky/traditional aspect a bit more, though it is still heavy. I’ve only played it once so far, but my initial impression is that this band is really on to something. I think more people should know about them.