Various Artists - The Sound of Siam (4 stars)

Various Artists - The Sound of Siam

Experimental fusion reinvents world music genre


Chris Menist’s intrepid Sound of Siam: The Leftfield Luk Thung, Jazz and Molam 1964-75 challenges the African, Latin and European dominated world music market while neatly shifting Deborah Kerr and Yul Bryner King and I images for the sounds of Bangkok bars and restaurants.

Nineteen varied tracks (‘luk thung’, meaning ‘child of the fields’ is Thailand’s most popular music style, and ‘molam’ is a folk song style from Laos) map an inventive scene fusing rural and urban sounds, while featuring subtle international influences. Artists such as Dao Bandon and groups including the Viking Combo Band create topical songs variously merging drums, gongs and xylophones with guitars and keyboards. Great booklet info, notes and visuals.


1. tingtong11 Apr 2011, 11:26am Report

Quite a disappointing collection, as is usual from western compilers. The main problem with this album is that it is very unrepresentative of the music from this period as permission to use it is difficult to obtain, so you are left with bits and pieces that merely give a glimpse of what was being produced in these years.
The terms 'left field' luktung and 'jazz' morlam would have no meaning at all to a Thai, and are as unnecessary as the many comparisons and influences made to western music of the time, some of which are quite laughable as is putting the viking combo band on a luktung and morlam issue.

I would say buy it, but don't imagine it is a representative look at these styles over the 11 years, or that it contains the work of the most successful artistes, it does not.

String is the most popular style of music in Thailand, and not luktung as stated.

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