Khruangbin Experience an Emotional Baptism on Globe-Trotting 'Mordechai'

BY Dylan BarnabePublished Jun 23, 2020

Epiphanic moments often reveal a sudden relevation or insight, though their presence is hard to predict. Such is the case behind Khruangbin's latest album, Mordechai. As the story goes, bassist Laura Lee was invited to take a trek out to a waterfall by a new friend, Mordechai, who helped her to realize the importance behind the age old adage of appreciating the journey rather than rushing to the destination. Upon reaching the waterfall, Laura was encouraged to join in jumping off into the water below. As she leapt, Mordechai yelled her full name, "Laura Lee Ochoa" — something that had a profound, baptism-like effect and deeply resonated within her.

This moment spurred Ochoa to begin writing lyrics — hundreds of pages' worth, to be exact. The Houston group, which also includes guitarist Mark Speer and drummer DJ Johnson, quickly got to work. While Mordechai follows in the footsteps of its critically acclaimed predecessors The Universe Smiles upon You and Con Todo el Mundo, it is unique in that nearly every song on the album features vocals. The effect is similarly profound, as the added human element provides another channel for the group's collective consciousness and creativity to flow freely.

The album itself deals primarily with the theme of memory, in particular "holding onto it, letting it go, [and] naming it before it disappears." Khruangbin draw inspiration from other cultures, epochs and mediums to create vivid soundscapes that delve into the particulars of a moment in time — however fleeting or everlasting. Songs like "Connaissais de Face" capture the sensual dialogue and sensuality reminiscent of French new wave cinema, while "Dearest Alfred" explores the letters Ochoa's grandfather wrote to his twin brother. "So We Won't Forget" is also particularly touching, as it finds Ochoa chronicling her memories on Post-Its around her apartment to prevent them from slipping away.

Musically, Khruangbin maintain their unwavering ability to weave a tapestry of diverse styles and sounds into their musical output. On Mordechai, the group incorporates styles native to Pakistan, Korea and West Africa, including some Indian chanting boxes and Congolese syncopated guitar. The album is an ode to all that Khruangbin have achieved and a look forward to everything that is to come.
(Dead Oceans)

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