When it comes to compilation series, they don’t come as reliable as LateNightTales. Along with its predecessor, Another Late Night, these comps have spent the past two decades enchanting fans worldwide with their diverse deep cuts and freewheeling attitude. As premises go, it was built for longevity. Hook up with the industries’ greatest minds and give them a platform to raid their record collection and fire it straight back at the public. Thanks to playlists, the mixtape ethos never died, and successful musicians tend to be nerds with impeccable taste after all.
LNT’s second release of 2020 sees Texan psych-rock softies Khruangbin take the reins for a stellar 15-track journey. It’s a full-circle trip for the trio, their breakthrough aided by Bonobo’s inclusion of their song ‘A Calf Born in Winter’ on his 2013 LNT release. This led to the outfit being signed to Night Time Stories, the label responsible for these beloved comps, and soon wigged world domination.
Reflecting Khruangbin’s unique sound, the collection includes a mix of Korean pop, Nigerian reggae, and Hispanic magic. There are enough 70s and 80s funky cheese on offer to please anyone who can’t resist a mellow slice of soul, Sanullim’s ‘Don’t Go’ with its thudding bass and screeching synths standing as a particular highlight. ‘Still You’ by the obscure Justine And The Victorian Punks is worth the admission alone; its combination of spoken word passages and disco beat a clear inspiration on ‘Connaissais de Face’ from this year’s ‘Mordechai’ L.P.
For a taste of some neon-soaked baby-making music, Japan’s George Yanagi brings the magic with his sultry and faintly ridiculous ‘Theme For Festival Past,’ and what fun it is. This being an LNT’s release means we, of course, get the obligatory artist track and the closing ‘story’ number to lull the listener away. Kool & The Gang’s 1974 instrumental ‘Summer Madness’ gets a modern update this time around, Khruangbin’s approach adding some welcome mellow guitar in place of some more abrasive key work found on the original.
The story track, by fellow Houston natives Tierney Malone and Geoffrey Muller, is nothing short of perfection, Malone reciting his cosmic journey through the stars while Muller performs a beautifully restrained rendition of Erik Satie’s ‘Gnossienne’ on banjo. It has echoes of Gil Scott-Heron’s best spoken-word and Tom Waits' well-worn sense of anecdotal sorcery.
While all of the LNT's releases are a welcome treat, Khruangbin’s is extra special. It's not as reliant on electronics and is a treasure trove for those whose record collections happily travel the world and don't stick purely to English. Turn the lights down low, kick-back, and enjoy.
Words: Sam Walker-Smart
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