CD offers a taste of
little-heard Thai music

"The Rough Guide to the Music of Thailand"
Various artists
World Music Network


While most local folk have at least a passing acquaintance with this Southeast Asian country through its food, we and the rest of the world have been pretty ignorant of the music created there -- until now.

This time around, the folks at Rough Guide have put together a tantalizing sampler subtitled "Lukthung and Morlam: the Hidden Sounds of Asia." Morlam is the multiform traditional music from the northeast of Thailand and Laos, and is represented on this anthology by tracks from female singer Chawiwan Damnoen (with jaunty accompaniment by Thongkham on the "khaen," a bamboo mouth pipe organ), as well as one of the district's more popular melodies, "Pong Lang Dance," by Chagkachan, which accelerates at an exciting pace, played on the "pong lang," a suspended vertical wooden xylophone.

Lukthung is Thailand's contemporary hybrid music, mixing morlam and Western pop and instrumental elements. The poppiest example of that even mixes in Mandarin pop, as the female duo China Dolls chime in with "Oh Oh Oh." Lukthung can either sound sweet and sentimental (as with female singers Anand Jaidee and Jieb Benjaporn) or more aggressive in tempo (dubbed "cha-cha-cha"), as demonstrated by the tracks by Sao Somparn and Krusala.

Mike Piromporn's "Lerk Dai Lerm Bor Dai" even adds a bit of saxophone to the funky rhythm and is a good representation of one of lukthung's more popular male singers. The "pi-phat" ensemble Fong Nam (under the guidance of American Bruce Gaston) put a happy, infectious and celebratory spin on Buddhist funeral music on their track.

Add an amazing cut by the Thai Elephant Orchestra -- elephants from a conservation center trained to play specially designed instruments -- and you've got an entertaining collection of rarely heard music.


MP3 downloads

The most downloaded songs of the week, as listed by


1. "My Band Until September" / Braxton Olita
2. "EMU" / next2nothing
3. "Riverside Waiting" / Pennylane
4. "Hawaiian Rain" / Coconut Joe
5. "Not waving, but drowning" / Pennylane
6. "Aloha Oe" / Liam Selwyn
7. "No Ka Moku Kiakahi Ke Aloha" / Keali'i Reichel
8. "Knowing All but Nothing at All" / next2nothing
9. "All Pau" / Coconut Joe
10. "What a Wonderful Day" / Coconut Joe


1. "Shake Your Tailfeather" / Nelly, P. Diddy and Murphy Lee (from "Bad Boys II")
2. "Digital" / Matrix
3. "Ibiza Megamix 2003" / Antinomie
4. "Terminator III" / McKey Traxx
5. "Your Body Is a Wonderland (Live)" / John Mayer
6. "In This Diary" / The Ataris
7. "The Future" / Antinomie
8. "Siesta in Granada" / HR-Spanish Guitar Collection
9. "All of Me" / Watashi Wa
10. "Punk Rock Princess" / Something Corporate

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