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‘Asian Tropical Bass Vol.1’: a new genre on the horizon

Animist Records triumphs with its new series celebrating hybrid Southeast Asian music

  • Mengzy
  • 23 November 2023
‘Asian Tropical Bass Vol.1’: a new genre on the horizon

This Saturday, November 25, Animist Records is set to release ‘Asian Tropical Bass Vol.1’, a four-track EP whose title ambitiously coins a new genre name in the process.

‘Asian Tropical Bass Vol.1’ presents tracks from Thai-Dutch collective Apichat Pakwan and Lamaihansa, a Thai group that remains relatively unknown on the international stage despite their popularity at home. Remixes by Hiss Sound and Kareem Raïhani round off the release.

Animist Records, which is based in Amsterdam, has been pushing its own brand of “outernational music” that revels in Southeast Asian folk traditions interacting with contemporary genres since 2016. Also noteworthy is the label’s mission to build an archive of Southeast Asian animistic music cultures.

Dub, reggae, hip hop, funk, electro, jungle, acid, rave: these are some of the influences from the Black diaspora heard on ‘Asian Tropical Bass Vol.1’ alongside molam, Lao folk music from Northeastern Thailand.

This specific blend of musical hybridity is no accident, as Animist founders Olivier Schreuder and Angkanang Pimwankum shared with Mixmag Asia via email: “Incorporating Black musical influences is a tradition in itself in Northeast Thailand since the USA built a large military base in the region during the Vietnam War, and many soldiers were from Afro American descent. The music they played inspired local musicians at the time to add funky drum breaks, bass guitars, organs and synthesisers in their own music.”

Further underpinning this hybrid tradition is the fact that certain musical features of Lao idioms overlap with aesthetics common to some Black diaspora genres, such as a reggae-style backbeat played by the khene (Lao mouth organ) and similarities in the rhythmic grooves and bass timbres of molam.

Read this next: ‘Nam Ton Dam’ is a sun-soaked amalgamation of groove-trenched reggae & traditional Thai molam essence

The first half of the EP begins with ‘Lao Cow’ by Apichat Pakwan, a psychedelic dub instrumental that features a mesmerising interplay between the khene and electric guitar. Next, is Lamaihansa’s ‘Don’t Wash’, the group’s reggae signature from 2017 whose music video has amassed upwards of five and a half million views on YouTube.

Read this next: Maarten Goetheer's Poy-Sian edits is an ode to Thailand's folk music culture

Tracks 3 and 4 are remixes, beginning with Hiss Sound reworking ‘E-San Machines’, a track from a 2017 Apichat Pakwan release. Rolling at 130 BPM, the remix shreds through jungle-indebted drum edits that develop in an otherwise sparse and dubby texture with undulating acid basslines. Lastly, opener ‘Lao Cow’ is treated by Kareem Raïhani, who eschews the electric guitar line in favour of a pitch-bending synth to compliment the khene.

‘Asian Tropical Bass Vol. 1’, which will be released in both vinyl and digital formats, is available for pre-order on Bandcamp here.

Mengzy is Mixmag Asia’s Music Culture Columnist, follow her on Instagram.

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