Khruangbin – A Calf Born In Winter

Beginnings

This is personal, in a way. And if this turns into something that can’t really be called a review then that’s the reason. It’s a tiny little tale about music, the people behind it, and the love we share.

It was back in 2013 when I opened the package with that really beautiful LateNightTales mix that Bonobo contributed to the series. I always liked the series, partly because they usually pick artists with a good hand for wonderful music – but even more because they always supply a vinyl version with the unmixed tracks.

Naturally, that comes with a download of all tracks and the full mix. Totally loved it, from beginning to end, and I particularly loved this one track from a totally unknown band called Khruangbin. Beautiful little instrumental that shone brightly between Dustin O’Halloran and Bonobo.

To my huge dismay (and that of plenty of other people as I later found out) this track was not included on the selection of tracks that made it to vinyl. Of all tracks! Andrew Ashong and Theo Parrish’s “Flowers” wasn’t included and that was tough, but this one…

In the meantime, the folks at LateNightTales were kind enough to tell me why. The Khruangbin track was a very late addition to the mix – too late to be included simply because the vinyl edition was already in production. And in the case of “Flowers” it was simply Theo Parrish’s request not to put it on vinyl.

Back then I did what I usually do in cases like this. I started searching the web. Maybe, just maybe it had already been published somewhere before, and maybe even on vinyl? You never know.

Not surprisingly, I didn’t come up with much. There were a few live videos on YouTube, so at least I could get deeper into the sound of this strange little band from Texas. Absolutely cool stuff, and even these three or four little clips already showed how innovative and unique they were.

And there was a small band website that talked about how they got together because they all had this love for Thai Rock and Funk, and how they blended this with their own musical roots and influences from other parts of the world. Khruangbin – in Thai it’s the engine that flies, the plane.

The band was still so not known that the website even included Laura Lee’s email address in case someone was interested in the band. You know what I did. I sent her an email. About how I was so sad that “A Calf Born In Winter” had not made it to the vinyl version, and if the song had maybe been published on vinyl somewhere else.

She answered, super nice and friendly, saying how happy she was that I liked the song so much, and how things had started to happen for them since the mix had come out, how they had been thrilled to be selected for it, being ever so grateful to Bonobo.

Laura had some good news too. Because lots of people had been talking about the track and had wanted it put on vinyl, LateNightTales had decided to publish it on a limited edition 7″ single in 2014, so I would finally get what I had hoped for.

For weeks I kept looking for it to pop up on the usual record seller websites so I wouldn’t miss it. Then it was announced as part of Record Store Day 2014 and I knew I needed to be safe. I ordered it from two websites, just to be sure. White vinyl, just a thousand of them produced…

Well – I was lucky on both orders. So now I have number 749 and 948. Close call for the second one as it seems. In a way it was a a lucky turn of events for Khruangbin as well. The fact that the song had not been included on the double vinyl actually intensified the discussion around the band and the track.

The song is still as sweet as it was eight years ago. The band always said that they want their music to simply just happen, and this is what this song does, it just happens, in deep tranquility, emitting all kinds of wonderful emotions, friendliness, a feeling of things being good, and a timelessness of the kind that comes from feeling like it has always been there. The flow that emerges when you are able to let go.

“A Calf Born In Winter” isn’t even a “typical” Khruangbin song with its lovely little bells and chimes. The flip side “The Recital That Never Happened” is much more representative, featuring nothing but Donald Johnson Jr.’s laid back drums, the warmest bass ever courtesy of Laura Lee, and the minimalist funkiness of Mark Speer on guitar.

Their first album followed in 2015, and from there it was a steady path to what you probably already need to call stardom. It’s a wonderful world when folks like these are able to let their plane take flight to rise to where they belong.

Oh, and don’t ask me for Laura’s email address. It changed a long time ago.

Release for review:
KHRUANGBIN – A CALF BORN IN WINTER – LATENIGHTTALES – ALN740

Buy the digital version on Bandcamp: Click
Buy the vinyl version on Discogs: Click

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