“Here’s a confession: I’ve never made it to Nong Taprachan despite all their CDs, vinyl and loads of cool live shows. This is obviously something I’ve got to rectify as soon as I get back to the city, but if you’re already in Bangkok you can go there right now!” (Some nameless hack, 2014)
6. “Song From Yesterday” (Finalkid, 2016). This CD is a solo project by Kittipat Knoknark, guitarist for post-rock band Afternoon. It’s an eclectic and disparate collection of tracks: found sounds, tape loops, acoustic guitars, keyboard motifs, synth washes, and the odd snippet of dialog/vocals. Occasional songs ascend in rising crescendos of distortion-drenched shoegazer noise-walls, adding an infrequent invasion of sonic tension. Loosely structured into two sides (A and B), this conceptual release is a long and rewarding listen-through that favors the patient enthusiast. Recommended! Favorite tracks: Cloudless, Moist, Wealthy Day, Bangkok 2012
5. 17September1981 “Nucleus” (Finalkid, 2016). After seeing me grab “Songs From Yesterday” the fine people at Nong Taprachan immediately pressed this CD into my hands, saying it was ‘very similar’. It turns out that, from what I can see, 17September1981 is the solo project of Siwat Auampradit, who is the other guitarist in the instrumental post-rock band Afternoon (and whose 2011 album “Between” is something I really must review soon). Like “Songs From Yesterday”, “Nucleus” comes across very much as a conceptual release, a tight, cohesive body of work linked by eternal themes of time and space. It’s analogous in approach to other one-person band-projects such as Kittipat Knoknark’s “Songs From Yesterday” or Put Suksriwan’s prolific Wednesday. Having said that, I feel it’s possibly more accessible, due to the inclusion of tuneful vocal sing-a-longs and meandering and interweaving guitar-lines. This is a great CD – thoughtful and melodic! Favorite tracks: Ti Drong Nan (“There”), Ter (“Her”), Baan (“Home”), Ngang Khong (“Still”)
4. White Collar “Ready EP” (Youth, 2016). I initially knew nothing about these guys but bought this purely on the minimal-ish cover and the fact Nong Taprachan recommended it as a synth pop/dream pop band. The band themselves are suitably enigmatic and mysterious, though you can listen to more of their tunes here. Interestingly for a Thai synth/dream pop band, the vocals are all male, and in English. The influences are widespread, ranging from original pioneers such as New Order to modern disciples like Wilderness. This is an intriguing and surprising release, a mix of loops and real instruments thumping out upbeat choruses (“I’d Like To Go!”) over deep seas of synth and jangling guitars. Get one now! Favorite tracks: Ready, Love Songs
3. Mattnimare “The Regime” (2016). Mattnimare are Pree “Wan” Asvaraksha (vocals and guitar), Kidakarn “Zung” Chatkawmanee (guitar), Jirakit “Ap” Taowti (bass), Boriboon “Baboon” Weerawong (drums), and this is their first major release. Given the EP’s title, and the fact it’s available in a ‘Dark Edition’ you do wonder about whether it’s a reflection of the current larger political issues of Thai society as a whole. While this is epic Thai alternative rock in its broadest sense, if you listen beyond the obligatory sonic chant-along anthems and emotive power ballads, there are moments of startling originality. Songs such as Deep thrash along to the beat of their own crackling kinetic energy, with alternating lyrics in Thai and English, while others like Tonight are lush widescreen soundscape ruminations of wistfulness. This is a great release and you can buy it direct from the band! Favorite tracks: Deep, Kern Wan Ti 22 Kong Tuk Deuan (“The 22nd Night of Every Month”), Geua Gern Gao (“Afraid To Step Up”), Tonight
2. Little Fox “Whitening EP” (2013). Little Fox is the solo project of Mahasmut “Gene” Bunyaraksh (from Saliva Bastards and Ugly Mountain fame). This five track EP is his second individual release as Little Fox. It’s a mellow acoustic confessional work of breezy vocals and strummed guitars, spanning Thai folk to some of the most chillaxing twelve bar blues you’ll possibly ever hear. This CD is one for those lazy weekends when real life is best kept at a distance, and you just want to curl up on the sofa and watch the fluttering leaves from the banyan sapling growing on the side of your cheap apartment block. Recommended! Favorite tracks: RCRMO, Peur (“Delirious”), Mama Blues, G.Walk
1. Honon “Explanation” (2015). I first encountered Honon when they played the Sofar Sounds August 2015 gig, also featuring Summer Dress, Jinta and Yellow Fang, so when I saw this CD on the racks I snapped it up immediately. Honon are a duo of Solos “On” Sirichote and Rattaporn “Hon” Boontongdee, and they both play a percussive sound sculpture instrument known as a Handpan. The resulting music is a bewitching mix of minimalist beats and melodies, each song resonating with a propulsive tune that steers it onwards through the surrounding silent spaces. They have just released a second CD “Draw”, which you can buy direct from them! Favorite tracks: Happened, Waiting, River Run Through, Explanation.