...a soothing mix of breathless female Thai vocals sung in English over the top of punchy danceable beats...
Slow Reverse “self-titled (remastered)” (Colorcode, 2014)
What is musical greatness? Is it when an album is released three separate times in three different formats over the course of six years, due to constant demand? If so, such an album is the eponymous debut (and so far only release) of Bangkok’s electro dream-pop outfit Slow Reverse. Formed in 2006, Slow Reverse are U-Krist Sirichana, Pim-Uma Sirayanyong, Srivara Arayawongkul, and later joined by Kasawan Kungvalpiwat. Similar to pioneering earlier electronica-based work by Talkless (and perhaps Futon), Slow Reverse’s music is a soothing mix of breathless female Thai vocals sung in English over the top of punchy danceable beats and lightly garnished with atmospheric guitar and synth washes. A second album is rumored to be currently in the works…
The 2009 version came as a hard-back pocket-book, complete with a Japanese print of a humpback whale; the 2014 remastered re-issue is essentially the same, except the book has been replaced with a CD insert pamphlet. My pick of the songs runs as follows:
- Tuesday – Opening track starts slow and melodic before kicking into a pacey beat framed by strings and guitars. One of my favorites!
- ·Monster – More pop perfection as guitars and synths merge effortlessly with funky drums creating a background for vocal musings on the nature of our psyche
- Live Action Sequence – This one begins with a spectral dirge-like organ, creating a meditative piece with accompanying vibraphone that reflects on the illusions of our screen-based dreams. “It’s not like the movie.”
- Furniture – “I burn the furniture at night, I don’t know why.” So starts this mini-saga, complete with organs and funk guitar that rises to a disturbing crescendo of: “My mind’s so slow, now it’s all gone, it’s all gone wrong.”
- Goodbye Lasted Forever – Epic closing track acts as a highly effective album coda, featuring six minutes of speedy rhythms, looped synths and organs, understated lead guitar, and a spiraling jam into soft closure. “They know it’s free.”
Disc One of 2011’s release, “Illumination” featured eye-catching music videos of all the album’s original tracks. Standout videos for me included Monster (directed by Gabriel Camelin), Afterdark (directed by Jue Pusaya Settasatian), Apollo (directed by Miku Yasuhira), and Furniture (directed by Ittipol Ratanaporn). All great and thoughtful eye-candy! The remixes on Disk Two likewise feature some stellar musical efforts, notably:"
- Monster (Gramaphone Children Remix) – An urgent clattering rhythm track and added synths propel an already great song into an anthemic 80s retro-job.
- When Worlds Collide (Bear-Garden Version) – Somsiri “June” Sangkaew from Bear-Garden throws down her own version of this number with a typically sparse arrangement delivering ultra-minimalist goodness. Love the amp hum
- Moving (Stylish Nonsense Remix) – Pok and June of Stylish Nonsense create an absolute monster of a track with hydra-like heads tearing strips off a dozen different musical meandering
- Afterdark (Kui & Uylink Remix) – This excellent re-working is a trance-like drone that occasionally comes up for air in precious moments of solitude.
- ·The Illusionist (Basement Tape Version) – Basement Tape rock out in what is essentially their cover of this Slow Reverse song, but in their own inimitable roots-based style. A must-have for any Basement Tape completist! [Ed. note - Andy has invented a new word completist. It's a noun form of the verb to complete and must mean one who must have everything!]
Slow Reverse’s only album to date is a cultural reference point for the Bangkok underground electronic music scene; a marker for a current crop of extremely talented groups and artists including Aerolips (U-Krist’s other project), Cyndi Seui, Casinotone, DCNXTR, Wasabi Bytes, Naked/Astronaught, and Gramaphone Children, among many others. Grab your copy, in whatever format you can find it, at 1979 vinyls and unknown pleasures, 8 Musique, DJ Siam, happening, or Nong Taprachan!