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A La Sala

A band that has spawned many imitators keeps adding to the quality of their catalog.

Robert Rackley
Robert Rackley
2 min read
A La Sala
A La Sala by Khruangbin

In Paul Simpson’s review of the new album from the Houston-based Khruangbin (sorry, no link), A La Sala, he acknowledges the fact that they’ve moved past their influences into a sound all their own.

While it was easier to point out the key influences in the band’s sound on their earlier records, from Thai funk to Afro-pop to flamenco, by now it’s just easier to identify the group’s atmospheric guitars and steadily paced snare slaps as sounding like Khruangbin.

At this point, Khruangbin sounds entirely unique, and as this piece from Ryan Bradley explains, they are hard to imitate.

Music now exists primarily within the stream, which is to say passively: We turn it on, like a faucet, and out pour songs representing some mood, or emotion, or any of the other words we used before we had “vibes.” Perhaps it’s an aura, like “chill.” Or a vague, evocative mind-set, like “always Sunday.” The tap turns and out pour songs we already liked, along with burbles of what is a little new and different yet fits in beautifully. This is the arrangement in which “Khruangbin vibes” excel. Such music is extremely slippery, genrewise. (Is it psychedelic lounge dub? Desert surf rock? The sound you hear inside a lava lamp?) As such, it pairs well with a huge span of music, across genres and eras; it has a kind of algorithmic inevitability to it. But this slipperiness also means that quite a lot of the bands now producing Khruangbin-vibesy music are entirely forgettable.

The consensus on this album among critics seems to be that this is sort of a return to their roots for Khruangbin, embracing the power of a more deliberate groove. The single, “May Ninth,” which was released before the proper album dropped, is a sweetly soporific, minutes until midnight slow jam with an intimate feel.

The whole album is cohesive, so it’s easy to take a song like this as a statement of intent. Listen to the entire record and you’ll probably find yourself in agreement. You’ll also most likely feel a lot more mellow.

Noise

Robert Rackley

Orthodox Christian, aspiring minimalist, inveterate notetaker, software dev manager and paper airplane mechanic.


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