Khruangbin's second album, 2018's Con Todo el Mundo, was the Texas trio's breakout; their relaxed blend of dub, funk, soul, and psych from around the world struck a chord with loads of people looking for something different. Hasta el Cielo is a dub reworking of that album that leans heavily on the rubbery bass playing of Laura Lee and steady drumming of Donald "DJ" Johnson, while sidelining Mark Speer's guitar playing for the most part. His distinctive lines dart in and out of the mix, sometimes subsumed by echo and other times beaming into the mix in gleaming shards. It's an interesting choice since his guitar lines were often what made Con Todo el Mundo as distinctive as it was. When they're subtracted and replaced by echo and other effects, the result is that the music slides seamlessly into the background and it's easier than the band likely hoped to zone out as the songs drift past. The versions lack the punch and power of the best dub and too often opt for sounding chilled out instead of interesting. It's a very faithful take on dub that hews a little too closely to the basic template of the style -- and adds precious little of the imagination or style the trio usually bring to their sound. None of that means that the album isn't a pleasant listening experience, because it is. What it isn't is a memorable listening experience. Even the two dubs added to the end of the record by the legendary dub producer Scientist aren't very compelling. The band surely meant for this to be a stopgap until their next album, but rather than giving this a spin it would be more rewarding to go back to Con Todo el Mundo and enjoy its many charms instead. The ways they explore the outer reaches of dub on that album are truly exciting, while this comes off like a school assignment in comparison.
AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra