Hasta El Cielo

BY Matt YuyitungPublished Jul 11, 2019

You need more than one hand to count the number of genres that have been ascribed to Khruangbin: funk, psychedelic, dub, world, jazz and soul, coupled with a globe-spanning taste in music. Mixing airtight grooves with a nocturnal atmosphere, the band's take on funk is loose and meditative, one that somehow sits comfortably in the background, yet demands your full attention at the same time.
Hasta El Cielo is subtitled Con Todo El Mundo in Dub; it strips back the previous record's already bare sound even thinner. It's an intriguing companion to the record, one that doesn't add too much to the conversation, but still reasonably stands on its own.
Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of Hasta El Cielo is the prominence of bassist Laura Lee and drummer Donald "DJ" Johnson. With guitarist Mark Speer making his presence felt through more atmospheric effects, rather than his usual distinct lead patterns, Lee and Johnson function as the record's focal point. Putting the rhythm section front and centre is nothing new for dub music, or even for Khruangbin, but tracks like "Mary Always" or "Four of Five" are great showcases for the hypnotic power of a rhythm section sitting comfortably in sync.
The krautrock-esque repetition of Lee and Johnson is one the band's most compelling elements; their patterns are simple, but there are no wasted notes played between either of them.
There are moments when the record feels indistinguishable from Con Todo El Mundo, where it's the band's spacious funk, but somehow more spacious. A Khruangbin dub record isn't particularly Earth-shattering, especially when dub was already so present in their music. But it's an opportunity for the band to really show off their strengths and further establish what makes them unique.
(Dead Oceans)

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