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Khruangbin | Mordechai

The psychedelic Texans embrace The Word — without forsaking The Groove.

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In the beginning, there was The Groove. And The Groove — in its many exotic, earthy, ethereal and esoteric forms — was good. It was true. It never did them wrong. It never led them astray. So it became the cornerstone and core of Khruangbin’s funky, far-flung psychedelic soundtracks. But as all things must, the Texas trio’s sound has evolved to include another fundamental element: The Word. For the first time, nearly every song the band’s third full-length features vocals. But we’re not talking about an endless array of anthemic choruses or stacked harmonies here. While a couple of cuts have prominent enough lyrics and choruses to put you in mind of Tom Tom Club or Luscious Jackson, for the most part, the bandmembers use their voices and microphones as creatively and innovatively as any other instruments. Thoughtfully layering everything from wordless crooning to hushed conversations into these tracks, they expand their sonic horizons without shoving their trademark instrumental elements — be it Mark Speer’s snaky guitar lines or Laura Lee and DJ Johnson’s nimble, low-impact flow — to the back of the bus. They may have embraced The Word, but to their credit, Khruangbin have not forsaken The Groove. And it is good.

THE PRESS RELEASE:Khruangbin has always been multilingual, weaving far-flung musical languages like East Asian surf-rock, Persian funk, and Jamaican dub into mellifluous harmony. But on its third album, it’s finally speaking out loud. Mordechai features vocals prominently on nearly every song, a first for the mostly instrumental band. It’s a shift that rewards the risk, reorienting Khruangbin’s transportive sound toward a new sense of emotional directness, without losing the spirit of nomadic wandering that’s always defined it. And it all started with them coming home. By the summer of 2019, the Houston group — bassist Laura Lee, guitarist Mark Speer, drummer DJ Johnson — had been on tour for nearly three-and-a-half years, playing to audiences across North and South America, Europe, and southeast Asia behind its acclaimed albums The Universe Smiles Upon You and Con Todo El Mundo. They returned to their farmhouse studio in Burton, Texas, ready to begin work on their third album. But they were also determined to slow down, to take their time and luxuriate in building something together. Musically, the band’s ever-restless ear saw it pulling reference points from Pakistan, Korea, and West Africa, incorporating strains of Indian chanting boxes and Congolese syncopated guitar. But more than anything, the album became a celebration of Houston, the eclectic city that had nurtured them, and a cultural nexus where you can check out country and zydeco, trap rap, or avant-garde opera on any given night. In those years away from that home, Khruangbin’s members often felt like they were swimming underwater, unsure of where they were going, or why they were going there. But Mordechai leads them gently back to the surface, allowing them to take a breath, look around, and find itself again. It is a snapshot taken along a larger journey — a moment all the more beautiful for its impermanence. And it’s a memory to revisit again and again, speaking to us now more clearly than ever.”