Houston, Texas-based trio Khruangbin had a phenomenal year in 2018. With the release of their their phenomenal sophomore LP Con Todo El Mundo, the talented group reached new heights, finally getting the recognition they always deserved. Just last week they won the Album of the Year at Gilles Peterson’s Worldwide Awards, held in Koko, London. Their widespread appeal comes from the fact that their music feels so free-spirited in nature. Laura Lee, the bassist of the group grew up in the border town of Brownsville with her grandfather, who was a bit of an eccentric. With a free spirit and areal curiosity towards new and boundary-pushing sounds, Laura, along with guitarist Mark Speer and drummer Donald “DJ” Johnson set out to conquer a sound that was unique and diverse among their contemporaries.
“Con todo el mundo,” translated to English means “With all the world.” This theme of merging and blending world music becomes prevalent throughout their second studio album. From the dense Spanish guitar-influenced leads that are interwoven with the thick basslines and a hard-hitting, groovy beat to the Thai funk influence on “Shades of Man,” their music really is genreless. The music as a whole is funky, soulful, ethereal, dark at times, and beautiful. The standout track to me, however, is “Maria También,” a short but dynamic record that takes influence from Middle Eastern rock (it reminds me of Omar Khorshid’s classic 1970s belly-dance albums), with poignant and striking guitar leads that are accompanied by a groovy bassline and percussion that raises the intensity of the music, emotively and majestically telling a story through sound. The video to the record celebrates the lives of Iranian women prior to the 1979 revolution. It was a ground-breaking time in Iranian history, and Khruangbin’s embrace of Iranian and Middle Eastern culture and music is powerful and inspiring. The rare images in the video were rarely seen in the Western world, and it really shows the colourful cultural wealth of the country.
The album as a whole is diverse with sounds and captures musical moments in time that are as captivating as the grooves and intense rhythms they produce consistently throughout Con Todo El Mundo. It’s a stunning body of work, a timeless display of mature songwriting that deserves all recognition and respect.
Listen to Khruangbin’s Todo El Mundo below via Bandcamp, and make sure you support!