Various Artists | Music | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Various Artists

Molam: Thai Country Groove From Isan
Sublime Frequencies

This gem is only one of six new releases from the increasingly wonderful Seattle-based label run by Sun City Girls bassist Alan Bishop. And like the rest of the catalogue, this collection is short on staid ethno-musicological musings and long on wonder. Molam (meaning "master singer"), a rural music featuring mouth organs, lutes, bowed fiddles and hand percussion, made its way from the countryside of northern Thailand down into Bangkok during the mid-20th century via migrant labor. The recordings featured here come from the '70s, when Molam was in transition. Electric guitars, kit drums and cheap organs were added to the traditional instruments; the result was some of the most infectious, rhythmic jungle roogaloo ever heard from these parts. Singers such as Noppadol Duangporn and Chaba Petchaboon weave incantations and insinuations over mid-tempo head-nodders that are at once otherworldly and familiar. Anyone smart enough to pick up Sublime Frequencies' Cambodian Cassette Archives disc will wallow in these grooves.

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