By: Jason Landry
I’ve been fascinated with blues and jazz instrumentals for many years. It’s usually the sound of the guitar that captures my initial attention. The Texas-based indie music trio Khruangbin, who criss-cross cultural boundaries with their often Middle Eastern inspired music is not blues or jazz, but something entirely different. Some might say it’s an audible psychedelic trip, but it’s that constant pulse between the drums, bass, and guitar that ebbs and flows in unison that makes you feel good. The constant use of reverb on their tracks, especially in the guitar is haunting.
Their most recent album “Ali”, is a collaboration with Vieux Farka Touré, who has been dubbed “the Hendrix of the Sahara”. The album pays homage to his father Ali Farka Touré who spent years bringing his brand of music from his homeland of Mali to the world. I’m generally hesitant when a band who primarily is known for instrumentals decides to now create tracks with vocals. But with this album, the vocals are subtle and act more like another instrument. Khruangbin’s guitarist Mark Speer and Vieux both play guitar on this album—panned right to left. Laura Lee’s melodic bass lines and DJ Johnson Jr.’s steady break beats are felt throughout and move like a surfer catching a wave in slow motion. This is felt most on the track Diarabi.