Khruangbin: Universe Smiles Upon LP
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Taking influence from 1960's Thai funk - their name literally translates to "Engine Fly" in Thai - Khruangbin's debut album The Universe Smiles Upon You is steeped in the bass heavy, psychedelic sound of their inspiration, Tarantino soundtracks and surf-rock cool. The Texan trio is formed of Laura Lee on bass, Mark Speer on guitar, and Donald "DJ" Johnson on drums.
The Universe Smiles Upon You was recorded at their spiritual home, a remote barn deep in the Texas countryside where their first rehearsals took place. The band listened to a lot of different types of music on the long drives out to the country but their favorites were '60s and '70s Thai cassettes gleaned from the cult Monrakplengthai blog and compilations of southeast Asian pop, rock and funk. This had a heavy impact on the direction of the band, the scales they used and the inflection of the melodies; which coupled with the spaciousness of the Texan countryside culminated in Khruangbin forming their exotic, individual sound.
Although the band was conceived as an instrumental outfit, The Universe Smiles Upon You features the first Khruangbin recordings with vocals. Tracks "People Everywhere (Still Alive)," "Balls and Pins" and recent single "White Gloves" show a new dimension to the band. "We never really thought of ourselves as having a "singer" but we knew that we wanted a voice for Khruangbin. We decided to write about something close to us, tell a story as simply as possible, and sing it together."
The band explains: "We feel like there is an ease that comes from being immersed in a space, away from the distractions of the city and everyday life. We make our music in a barn, in the Texas hill country, because it makes sense to us. Being there allows us to make music that comes naturally, and that's what we wanted this album to be. We wanted to make a record that just let the music happen, and we hope that's what you can hear."