Album Review | Top of the World | The Paradise Bangkok Molam International Band – 21st Century Molam
Words by Andy Thomas
Classic Thai sounds get dubbed up for the dance floor
After moving to Bangkok in 2008, journalist and record collector Chris Menist found a wealth of 7″ vinyl treasures in the markets around his new home; they reached us thanks to two compilations on Soundway Records. The second of these ear-opening collections focused on the sounds of the north-east of the country – the raw country blues of the golden age of molam music. It’s this that provides the template for this new band, put together by percussionist Menist and his DJ and partner-in-compilation Maft Sai.
Having emerged out of the pair’s Paradise Bangkok club night, the band mixes north-eastern Thai instrumentation provided by Sawai Kaewsombat on the khaen (mouth organ) and Kammao Perdtanon on the Thai lute with Western bass and drums for a formidable 21st-century fusion. The bottom-heavy mix of dub producer Nick Manasseh adds weight to the pulsating, hypnotic sound of dance-floor bombs such as ‘Zerng India Prayuk’ and ‘Show Wong Molam International’. But equally as impressive are the tracks that rely solely on the traditional instrumentation, in particular the stunning, stripped-back ‘Diew Khean Tidsoot’.