Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Khun Narin Electric Phin Band

  • Khun Narin Electric Phin Band [Innovative Leisure, 2014] B+
  • II [Innovative Leisure, 2016] **

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Khun Narin Electric Phin Band [Innovative Leisure, 2014]
From rural Thailand, a loose, multigenerational gaggle of musicians play their lively yet quiet and medium-tempo version of something called phin phayuk, a phin being the traditional, long-necked, three-stringed lute they electrify. Why American enthusiasts call the result "Psych & Funk" beats me as it always does. I'm beginning to intuit that "psych" means any vernacular instrumental music that seems to wander a little and isn't the mysterious and antique "jazz." But "funk," well--it's true my wife always guesses that they're from some sub-Saharan place, but the rhythms are both straightforward and more poky than pushy, their trance factor a matter of scale and timbre even when they get tricky. This is probably why phin phayuk has sounded just right at breakfast on three or four occasions. In rural Thailand, it starts parades. In Manhattan, it's wake up and make the tea music. B+

II [Innovative Leisure, 2016]
Sometimes this Thai electric lute ensemble leads parades, other times it provides atmosphere, a mode favored on this follow-up, and while I'm complaining let me ask why it skips their Cranberries cover ("Thang Yai Thang Yao," "Phom Rak Mueang Thai") **