Various Artists

Thai Funk: ZudRangMa, Vol. 1

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The first of three volumes in the Thai Funk series compiled by Maft Sai for Bangkok‘s Zudrangma record label is a walk through the oddly familiar by way of outer space pop sounds of the '60s, '70s, and even early '80s as covers of hits from those eras are retitled and redone Thai style (obviously due to the influence of the popular music American GIs on leave brought with them during the Vietnam War). That said, there are some killer originals with squiggly yet indelible native Luk Krung grooves done on cheap synths and drum machines. Check the opener, "Pu Yai Lee" (Chief Lee) by Louis Kennedy, which is a more guitar-heavy "Green Onions," with a lithe, slightly flat female vocal leading the pack and some loose barroom choruses by her male counterparts. The reverb boxes on the guitars actually pop in the backdrop. This is followed by Meesak Nakaratch's “Luk Ron” with its psychedelic drum and guitar intro before moving into a Farfisa-driven take on James Brown's "I Feel Good," complete with snare breakdown and Nakaratch's grunting, boasting, and shouting. Even more bizarre is "Kod Hang Kam" (The Circle of Karma) by Kana TNT, which is a rubbery bass and funk guitar read on Pink Floyd's "(Another Brick In) The Wall"! It's reverent, but that's part of what makes it utterly twisted while adding to the original's power as a resonant anthem -- even with a different lyric. Even more interesting is the frenetic disco of "Khown Tai Doey Loak Puin" (You Should Die by Bullets) by Chairai Chaiyata/Sawanee Pattana, whose title is only superceded by the insanely paced hand percussion and tinny horns. "Disco Tour" by Nakplang Krumklowna is a bubbling bass and percussion-fueled dance jam powered by a kinetic declamatory pulse. "Nam Man Pang" (Expensive Gasoline Again) by Sroeng Santi is pure guitarrific Thai psychedelic club funk. The sound on these selections is quite good considering they were compiled from vinyl sources. That said, it would have been nice to get more artist information from Sai or at least an essay as to the method of his madness when it came to choosing these particular tracks. Nonetheless, this set, which is now in a vinyl pressing -- the CD sold out immediately upon release -- will appeal to those whose appetite for Thai music and/or out-of-the-way funky grooves runs to the obscure.

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