When you hear “instrumental music” applied to contemporary bands, at least in the scene we frequent, it’s typically some sort of post-rock or droning metal or electronic outfit doing something cool, but wholly removed from the instrumental outfits of the past. Though unmistakably new, Khruangbin find their instrumental influences in musical traditions that span many decades, cultures, and styles, building on a love of Thai funk and fleshing that out with surf, psychedelia, soul, and more. Now with two LPs to their name, the most recent, especially, serving as a broad and gloriously entangled mesh of styles and heritage, the Texas trio are unique and buzzy band you simply have to see live, and you can do just that tonight, April 2 at The Basement East, when they perform with SoCal twin jazz duo The Mattson 2. Without a doubt one of the spring’s most unique shows, tickets are still available right here. Read more about the show!
Made up of Laura Lee on bass, Mark Speer on guitar, and Donald Johnson on drums, Houston trio Khruangbin are blazing musical trails and channeling styles and influences few contemporary acts have dared to bridge. With a name that literally translates to “engine fly” in Thai (though is more commonly understood to mean “airplane”), the band turned heads a few years ago with their incredibly unique debut full-length, The Universe Smiles Upon You, heavily influenced Thai funk cassettes of the 1960s and ’70s (which they frequently listened to on love drives through the Texas countryside) as well as classic soul, dub, surf, r&b, and psychedelia, culminating in worldly, groovy, instrumental jams unlike anything else coming out today. Combining their own diverse heritage and respective influences, the group have continued to experiment in the time since, all the while earning widespread critical acclaim and becoming a regular tour and festival fixture, propelled by music uniquely suited to transcend language and culture. On their latest effort, this year’s Con Todo El Mundo, Khruangbin find even more world influences to pull from, broadening their reach to incorporate styles from the Mediterranean and Middle East, particularly pre-Revolution Iran. A personal effort inspired in part by Lee’s Mexican-American grandfather, the new LP is already one of the year’s most interesting and unrivaled albums of any genre. A band like Khruangbin is best experienced live though, so if you’re up for taking a musical journey that spans countries and cultures, you won’t find anything more adventurous and fulfilling than this.
THE MATTSON 2
Though, like Khruangbin, San Diego’s The Mattson 2 are an instrumental outfit, where the former derives their sound largely from world music, the latter forge theirs from a style more uniquely American: jazz. Comprised of identical twins Jonathan and Jared Mattson, the duo incorporate surf and psychedelia and improvisation, to find a sound that transcends time and space, and has led them to tour the world with a host of bands of distinctly different but complimentary genres. Their impressive chops have also led the Mattsons to collaborate with vocalists and outside artists for some excellent teamups, including their stellar recent record with Toro Y Moi’s Chaz Bundick. Live is where they really sizzle, and you’d be a fool to show up late.
Khruangbin and The Mattson 2 will perform tonight, April 2 at The Basement East. The show is 18+, begins at 8 p.m. (doors at 7 p.m.), and tickets are available to purchase for $17.