Slo-flanged psychouts with grandparents and children
February 5, 2015 5:34 AM   Subscribe

In 2013, cell phone footage emerged on the Dangerous Minds blog of The Khun Narin Electric Phin Band playing what appeared to be fuzzed-out, homemade psychedelic rock from the Isan region of northeastern Thailand. The recordings led sound engineer Josh Marcy to track down the band, who turned out to be a loose collective of motorcycle taxi drivers, carpenters, and priests, and field-record an album, the first half of which can be streamed here.

Others have pointed out that, while the band sounds like psych rock, it's essentially playing a form of traditional Thai folk music common in the region. Thailand-based sound archivist Peter Doolan maintains an extensive blog documenting this style, along with others. Beer, the phin player in Khun Narin and Buddhist priest, has uploaded other examples to his YouTube channel.
posted by Sonny Jim (22 comments total) 54 users marked this as a favorite
 
The album is also available on Spotify here.
posted by Sonny Jim at 5:36 AM on February 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


Oh neat. I am now going to spend the rest of the day enjoying this.

Is this a good place to point out that Dengue Fever has a new album out as well? And that it is also lovely?
posted by Katemonkey at 5:40 AM on February 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


Wow, thanks. That's very nice.
posted by thelonius at 6:18 AM on February 5, 2015


Others have pointed out that, while the band sounds like psych rock, it's essentially playing a form of traditional Thai folk music common in the region.

I love this because it means we've come full circle! Psych rock wouldn't be what it was without (South) Asian folk music. And now we're at a point where reverb-y fuzzy electric guitar/phin is indelibly a part of (Southeast) Asian folk music. I can't get over how cool this is.
posted by capricorn at 7:10 AM on February 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


But aside from that, the second video in the FPP is just blasting my face off right now, I mean wow.
posted by capricorn at 7:12 AM on February 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


That is The Best Thing Ever.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 7:16 AM on February 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


very cool
posted by pyramid termite at 8:00 AM on February 5, 2015


Thanks so much for this Sonny Jim. To quote one of the YouTube comments: "Apparently this is a thing. And it turns out to be a thing that I wish had seen earlier."
posted by Kabanos at 8:13 AM on February 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


At about 3:56 in the second link I'm hearing some Cranberries' Zombie.
posted by Kabanos at 8:29 AM on February 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


Thai Acid Blue Cheer
posted by SmileyChewtrain at 8:34 AM on February 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yep. In all seriousness, that is "Zombie." Apparently, Marcy played the band the new Bass Drum of Death album while he was Thailand. Not sure what they made of that.
posted by Sonny Jim at 8:35 AM on February 5, 2015


This is awesome. And in the "traditional Thai folk" link there's a lot of great detuned instrumentation, similar to Balinese Gamelan playing (and I assume a lot of other southeast Asian music) . Which really tweaks my brain in all the right ways. Love this stuff.
posted by SmileyChewtrain at 8:41 AM on February 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yep. In all seriousness, that is "Zombie."

Oh, I see I should RTFA already! I'm just streaming the tunes/tubes and left the reading for after work. Good to know my ears work!
posted by Kabanos at 9:23 AM on February 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


That second video link... what a crazy scene, man.
posted by cmoj at 9:32 AM on February 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


I love that we live in a world where the process of tracking down an amateur band in rural Thailand begins with "go to their Facebook page." And if you want your own electric phin? They're on eBay.
posted by neroli at 9:42 AM on February 5, 2015 [6 favorites]


I love, love, love when different creative approaches wind up in the same territory. Psych rock and Thai folk? Of course they wind up overlapping, because, well, of course!
Really nice. Some great music on the Blue of late . . .
posted by pt68 at 10:21 AM on February 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


The "editorial review" of the album listed on Amazon makes me want to experience them live (if not live that life):
Khun Narin's Electric Phin Band's membership is always in rotation and spans several generations, from high school kids to men well into their 60s. A standard engagement has the band setting up at the hosting household during the morning rituals, playing several low-key sets from the comfort of plastic lawn chairs occasionally working in a cover version of a foreign classic (The Cranberries "Zombie") while the beer and whiskey flow freely. After a mid-day banquet, they start up the generator and lead a parade through the community to the local temple, picking up more and more along the way.
If nothing else, it sounds like an awesome way to spend a few hours, roaming around and playing music with anyone who wants to join in.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:11 PM on February 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


Aside from Dengue Fever, if anybody can recommend me more music similar to this and sources where to obtain/discover more I'd be eternally grateful.
posted by kurosawa's pal at 1:36 PM on February 5, 2015


Dengue Fever strikes me as very different than this. Dengue Fever, who are amazing live and recorded, are reviving a music scene in pre Khmer Rouge Cambodia that was very consciously trying to sound Western. This seems much more traditional. Anyway, if you're interested in Dengue Fever, go to the source.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 9:39 PM on February 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


kurosawa's pal: Similar but not the same:

- I like the work of Cambodian Space Project, who play Cambodian psychedelic music from the pre-Khmer Rouge era.

- There's also this fantastic album, 'Those Shocking Shaking Days', a collection of Indonesian funk, psychedelic and hard rock from the 1970s. If you want to see where that sound has evolved, there's contemporary Bandung band Sigmun.
posted by beijingbrown at 9:41 PM on February 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


Thanks guys, I don't know too much about this type of music, thanks for the links.
posted by kurosawa's pal at 1:06 PM on February 6, 2015


Aside from Dengue Fever, if anybody can recommend me more music similar to this and sources where to obtain/discover more I'd be eternally grateful.
I guess the issue is that most of this parade or festival music is played live, and doesn't get recorded very often. But of course that's changing in the age of readily available smart phones, which is what started this whole ball rolling. As Peter Doolan (linked in the FPP) points out over at The Wire, "local festivals with raucous live bands are happening all the time in Thailand, and idle band members, friends or other attendees with smartphones frequently shoot video of the events." Khun Narin's Electric Phin Band falls pretty much into this genre. A simple keyword search for phin prayuk (modernised or electric phin) turns up a lot of similar music, much of which is just flat out fantastic. You can also find a surprising amount of other stuff on YouTube just by inputting searches on song names like "lam phun," which returns epic jams like this one, awesome slow-burn sax versions, and overt Thai stoner rock. Another option is to look for the YouTube channels of individual phin players like this one. (I linked to Beer Sittichai's channel in the FPP.)

Another outfit to look out for is the Paradise Bangkok Molam International Band, which also released a readily available (i.e. it's on Spotify) album last year. They attract an ... interestingly mixed audience of fans, judging by crowd shots in the YouTube vids.

Finally, the Sublime Frequencies label curates and collects a lot of modernised Thai folk from the Isan region (much of it from the '60s through '80s), some of which is on YouTube and worth hearing.
posted by Sonny Jim at 3:18 AM on February 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


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