May 16, 2018 | Bob Boilen — It was daylight but the music was dark and moody. And despite having the office lights turned on high, it was Khruangbin’s trance-inducing tone that set the mood and carried me away.
This trio from Houston, Texas is heavily inspired by 1960s and ’70s funk and soul from, of all places, Thailand. That musical passion has taken them on a journey that, these days, incorporates music from Spain, Ethiopia and the Middle East. Khruangbin’s largely instrumental music is grounded in Laura Lee’s bass, with Mark Speer playing those melodic, richly reverbed guitar sounds and Donald “DJ” Johnson on drums and piano.
Two of the three songs performed at this Tiny Desk Concert are from their 2018 album Con Todo El Mundo, which is dedicated in part to Laura Lee’s Mexican-American grandfather. He’d often ask her how much she loved him and the response that pleased him most was when she would say, “con todo el mundo,” (with all the world.)
The third track in this performance is one of the band’s first forays into vocals, from their 2015 debut album, The Universe Smiles Upon You. “White Gloves” gently pays homage to a “classy lady” who was “a fighter” and who “died in a fight.” Its open-ended lyrics could imply a battle that was violent or an illness. It isn’t clear. What is clear is the reverence in the song and in this music — music that strays from typical instrumental songs with heavy beats. This is music to sway to and to lift you beyond the day to day.
Producers: Bob Boilen, Morgan Noelle Smith; Creative Director: Bob Boilen; Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin; Videographers: Morgan Noelle Smith, Kara Frame, Dani Lyman; Editor: Ben Naddaff-Hafrey; Production Assistant: Joshua Bote; Photo: Eslah Attar/NPR.