The Rough Guide to the Music of Thailand (2003)

«Thai music hasn't had much exposure on the world stage, but on the basis of the excellent Rough Guide to the Music of Thailand compilation, it's only a matter of time before it emerges as a global force. The emphasis here is on the lukthung and morlam styles, which originated in northern Thailand, illustrated in both traditional and more modern pop forms, but there are also oddities like the Thai Elephant Orchestra (which, yes, is made up of elephants) on "An Elephant's Swan Song." Although it doesn't say so in the comprehensive booklet, Chawiwan Damnoen's track would seem to feature the khaen, a kind of massive forerunner of the harmonica (with origins in China) that produces a fascinating full sound closer to an accordion. While the styles have been modernized, few have done it as effectively as China Dolls, whose "Oh Oh Oh" was one of the biggest Thai singles of 2001, a series of absolutely irresistible hooks. Much of the music here is at the pop end of the spectrum while still managing to sound well-rooted, rather than bland and faceless. And some tracks can be stunning, like "Phin Solo," a solo by Surasak Donchai on the phin, a Thai lute, which is simply virtuosic. Jieb Benjaporn's "Ma Kor Tho Tai" is lukthung that blends a heartfelt slow melody with guitar that would sound at home on an Ennio Morricone soundtrack to wonderful effect. More traditional sounds come from Fong Nam, playing classical music featuring the double reed pi. And veteran Benjarong Thanakoset offers some beautiful music on the bowed so-duang to complement it, helping to explore some of the many facets of Thai music. This isn't a complete look at the music of Thailand, as the notes point out. But for the time being, it does a valuable, informative, and extremely entertaining job.» (AMG)

Link in comments


Radu said...


Anonymous said...

thanks, radu!! today must be my day - with this one i found FOUR records i ache to listen to - amazing blogosphere. at other times i'm not interested in anything for weeks!

i really enjoyed thai pop driving with small busses overland up to laos. the pop music in thailand isn't as cheesy and crappy as in indonesia, i think, but maybe the drivers just had better taste. ;)