Houston's Khruangbin is the kind of band you want to go record shopping with. So much about the trio's Thai-influenced, funk instrumental style lends itself to opening your mind as you eagerly flip through stacks of old vinyl, later hauling it home and letting sounds of the past fill the air.
The group's eclectic origins reinforce such a colorful scenario. Guitarist Mark Speer and drummer Donald Johnson met by performing together in a worship band at St. John's United Methodist Church -- a.k.a., Beyoncé's church. And while visiting a friend in 2010, bassist Laura Lee happened upon Speer watching a documentary on Afghani music, which, as an art history student focusing on Art of the Near East at the time, understandably intrigued her.
But the musical melting pot was merely starting to boil. From there, the trio bonded over the archival recordings from British music blog Monrak Pleng Thai, which specializes in the "enchanting songs of Thailand." As evidenced by the band's two full-length albums, the groove-laden funk sonics discovered on that blog are merely the jumping off point for the members and their own musical excursions.
And maybe the story of three Texans playing music inspired by retro, funk-ified rhythms of Thailand with a new record boasting a Spanish name (Con Todo El Mundo, meaning "With Everybody") which offers compositions featuring Middle East flourishes seems cute at best, culturally appropriating at worst. But the band doesn't bill itself as anything other than an inventive troupe of explorers filtering inspirational textures through their own hazy, psychedelic lens.
In fact, they want to bring along would-be students along for the kaleidoscopic trip. The band's website features a Spotify flight playlist generator, where after entering the destination of a flight and mood-specific details (do you prefer the leg room of an aisle seat or the secluded, chilled-out feel of the window seat?) the listener gets a band-approved travel playlist featuring their favorite international tunes from the past 40 years imported directly into the listener's Spotify account.
Lee has lived in London for a while now, but the influence of her Mexican-American grandfather has also seeped into the songs that were recorded in a barn outside of Houston. Ditto the early-era hip-hop break beats that Johnson has adored since his youth.
Khruangbin doesn't make what many would call "world music" as much as they simply make what they feel is music for the world.
March 29 at 8 p.m. at Club Dada. Details.