A friend of mine once mistakenly described Khruangbin’s sound as “nothing short of glorified elevator music”. Since then, two things have happened: the three-piece from Texas have released their second album, Con Todo El Mundo, and me and my (ex)friend are no longer speaking.
Khruangbin create so much room with their combination of hip-shaking bass lines and pentatonic-led guitar riffs, forming an endless series of cavernous chambers that lure you further and further into the labyrinth until you can no longer remember the treacherous way out. The emergent Thai-Funk ambiance is the aural manifestation of a kaleidoscope; it separates you, a lost cowboy riding through a barren yet fertile landscape of cloudless rainforests and bamboo-ridden deserts.
But this is no drug-induced mirage. Con Todo El Mundo is a dark evolution of The Universe Smiles Upon You, as Khruangbin experiment with more dissonant sounds, as well as more varied tempos and tonalities. It’s also deeper. The layers that the album cocoon you within are constantly shed and re-shed, enveloping you in a soundscape that is always fresh, always invigorating.
This welcome environment is, first and foremost, down to the remarkable capabilities of Khruangbin’s individual parts. Mark Speer’s extravagant adventures along the neck of his guitar should be hectic, but they’re the most contained pieces of majesty. With her thumping bass, Laura Lee marauds with an elastic ease, hitting the fabled ‘spot’ no matter what destination she chooses. Likewise, Donald Johnson’s subtle drum beats provide the perfect accent to all of the Fuck-Yes going on above. They solicit rather than shout; you don’t notice their presence at first, but they’re the groove which keeps you grooving well into ‘Friday Morning’, the album’s sombre conclusion.
Khruangbin’s un-offensive sound may well be suited to the confines of an elevator, but this particular elevator is made of molten myrrh. And it’s going all the way up.