Saturday, 14 May 2016


We are right in the middle of the Bun Bang Fai season, in many places in Esan and Laos, in small villages and cities, people gather to celebrate and party. This weekend, it's time to celebrate with the people of Yasothon one of the biggest Esan cultural event of the year in this province: Bun Bang Fai Yasothon.
During Bung Bang Fai festivals, there is lots of music and traditional dances performed all day long and off course, molam concerts at night. If the beginning of the celebrations focus on a parade, dances and various contests, the main attraction remains the firing of home made rockets. Let's celebrate and dance with DONTRI PHUN MUANG ESAN (local music from Esan). As often with this kind of recordings, no musicians are credited on the cover notes. 
Today we have some pure traditional instrumental Esan music: Phin, khaen, lots of heavy percussion... As you can see on the linked videos, it's parade music made to go with various kinds of traditional dances... Sorry I got to go NOW, it's party time here! Have fun listening to "the best of northeast native melody" as the cover proudly says.

01 seong bung fire
02 seong khang rua
03 seong lai rua fire
04 seong swing
05 seong kra-thip kawo
06 seong Esan
07 seong sarawan
08 seong kotraboon
09 seong Phoo Thai
10 rum sri kotraboon
11 rum tang wai
12 rum laog toop

NOTE: As you probably noticed, I'm not a big fan of phonetic transcriptions but I'll use those that are sometimes provided (usually for traditional and classical music) to respect the effort made to encourage visitors to discover the rich musical heritage of Thailand.
smoke on the rice fields, fire in the sky...

Sunday, 8 May 2016


Some people say "Never juge a book by it's cover", what about tapes? Quite often, thai tapes covers can be full of mystery (especially if you can't read what's on it), I had no clue about what I would get when I bough this tape almost 3 years ago, the seller who knew the kind of music I was looking for just said "this is Esan"...
Num Phutai in his studio
Let's have a look at the cover: A soundboard, some machines and a bunch of happy guys... After a closer look, you could regognize the unique smile of mister Num Phutai (on the left). Born In the province of Kalasin (where lives a large part of the Phu Tai community of Thailand), Num Phutai is  well known in the luk thung / molam scene since 40 years: Phin player (he also play guitar, khaen, accordion...), he gained a solid reputation in the 80's and 90's as a composer and producer (we'll ear more about this side of his career later as he his behind many very good tapes). Num Phutai also takes a serious part in the transmission of the Esan musical culture by teaching how to play phin to the younger generations (numerous books, and video methods are available). That's still very few information about what's inside this tape as Num Phutai solo career is quite eclectic...
Phin masters Num Phutai and Thongsai Thabthanon
What do we have here? 10 early "electronically assisted" instrumental loops of modernised phin/khaen "prayuk"lines borowed from luk thung and molam with some outerspace 80's synthetic feel. Electric phin with khaen and some subtle additional  instuments. Everything here melts in your ears brilliantly. One sure thing is that the central part of this recording is the production, the sound blending and a particular attention for the stereo rendering. Finally, the cover of this tape was kind of a good description of the music... Good job!

หนุ่ม ภูไท
01 ลำเพลินเธคลูกทุ่ง
02 จีบสาวแม่ฮ้าง
03 ขี้เมาเชิญม่วน
04 เดือนหงายม่ายสาว
05 เต้ยสะกิดสาว
06 สาวภูไทคิดฮอดบ้าน
07 ต่างหวายส่ายสะโพก
08 เซิ้งบั้งไฟขอฝน
09 ก่องข้าวน้อยออยสาว
10 สีทันดรสะออนสาว

NUM PHUTAI หนุ่ม ภูไท

Saturday, 7 May 2016


After the post about records shopping in Bangkok let's see today how to buy Thai and especially Esan music online without supporting the neocolonialist music business that grows well enough already. If it exists it's only because some people believe their "advertising stories", trust their usual way of seeing luk thung and molam as "interesting mostly when it's Americanized" and buy their "branded music", the only ones to blame here are actually those who buy those products (without thinking about those who made it!)... Everybody is free to consider cultural identity as merchandise or exotic tourist attraction, it's only a matter of moral values. This well organized scammer's market is actually not related to the molam scene at all and it sadly doesn't only happen in Thailand...
Anyway, I'm not here to make moralist advises or to tell you where and how you should spend your money but I support the local scene (just like all the molam fans) and there is nothing wrong about giving alternative fair options...
Molam is a culture, not a business! The contemporary molam concerts are probably the cheapest concerts in the world, all the bands supports the live music recordings to spread freely and most of the singers actually make a living from their hard work with a large part including donations from members of the community, private support or sponsoring... (it's part of the Esan culture where solidarity and community values are not just words!).
Today I made a little list of records available on EthaiCD. From what I heard, shopping there is pretty smooth and the target of this shop is mostly Thai people living outside of Thailand.
There used to be more online shopping options a few years ago when I was buying this way but it seems like this website is now the only (normally priced) place to buy luk thung and molam online. If I find other options I'll sure link those too.
NOTE: I don't know the people from this shop, and I don't buy any music from them (still I buy about 50 Thai records of all kinds every months from many local shops and sellers).
Let's get started: There are a few kinds of different supports used to sell music in Thailand (I'll detail those in another post). Today, just a few links about singers that are interesting to start a collection of luk thung and molam CDs (from different styles and different eras). Every time it links you to one album but you can see many more CDs from the same singer if you copy/paste the name in the search option (you can listen to them too if you copy the thai alphabet name on youtube). Some are on CDs, some on Mp3 CDs (those Mp3 CDs are actually a good deal as they can contain up to 10 albums for the price of a thai CD). I did not link any traditional music, instrumental albums such as phin or khaen but if you look around there are some available for those who like it.

Thepporn Phetubon  (70's/80's luk thung and molam)
Phet Phin Thong  (70's/80's luk thung and molam)
Dueanphen Amnuaiporn (80's/90's molam luk thung)
Chawiwan Damnoen  (traditional molam)
Moddaeng Jiraporn (contemporary luk thung)
Buaphan and Srijan (contemporary luk thung and molam sing)
Phimpa Pornsiri (80's/90's molam and luk thung)
Kaifa Daduang (mid 80's/90 molam prayuk) 
Angkhanang Khunchai (70's/90's luk thung and molam)
Dao Bandon (70's/90's luk thung and molam)
Hongthong Dao'Udon (80's luk thung and molam)
Suphap Daoduangden (70's/80's molam)
Monruedi Phromchak (traditional and modernised molam)
Siriporn Ampaiphong (80's/90's molam prayuk and luk thung)   
P.Chalatnoi (70's/90's molam)
Chabaprai Namwai (70's/80's molam) 
There is maybe 500 CDs of all kinds worth buying on this website. Most of the time those CDs are 2 or 3 times cheaper than what you can find in your country. The money you'll spend there goes to the Thai shop owners and then to Thai records labels, Thai musicians, singers and producers, Thai CD factories, Thai post office workers... UP TO YOU!
Of course not everything is "black or white" and there are quite a few very interesting albums that have been produced for the occidental market that are worth buying. I will soon make list of some of those records made by professional ethno-musicologists and passionate people involved in the preservation of the musical traditions. Those albums are available at your local record store, they are very nice and usually have a pedagogical point of view. If the local scene deserve support, those people deserve respect too!
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016


To follow the last post about Noppadon Duangporn and his career as a luk thung singer, today we have a tape from Phet Phin Thong. If Phet Phin Thong is well known as a luk thung and molam troupe as well as a record label, it's with their comedy shows "talok" that they really became famous in Thailand (those shows are still very popular nowadays and it's easy to find video CDs re-editions and lots of videos online). 
During the years of celebrity of the Phet Phin Thong comedy show on Television, Noppadon Duangporn had the great opportunity to promote the new records of his label by adding live music performances to the shows and the tape we have today feature some nice guests.
If the tape we have today can seem of little interest for those who don't understand a word of what Noppadon and his friends are talking about in their Esan jokes, it's an important part of the Phet Phin Thong History and you still can enjoy the live music played during the show with some phin and khaen and the guests featured in this recording: Num Phuthai (we'll ear more about him and his phin very soon), Angkhanang Khunchai and P.Chalatnoi (already featured here).
I'm very busy this week so I leave you with this tape...