Boomkat Product Review:
‘Music Of Southern and Northern Laos’ ‘Music Of Southern Laos’ presents an outstanding set of recordings made by Laurent Jeanneau (Kink Gong) in the landlocked, mountainous, South East Asian country as well as the Luang Namtha & Phongsaly provinces, a rare collection from a region which has been generally overlooked by the recently burgeoning ethnographic musical industry.
Replete with Jeanneau’s lucubrate liner notes and detailed track descriptions, it’s a totally transportive survey for both beginners and studious ears; covering a remarkable range of styles from the almost sea shanty-esque cadence of the qeej - bamboo pipes fitted with a reed - to quietly intimate acapella folk song; a beguiling demonstration of extended breathing/singing techniques on the tot, a fresh green bamboo played with reed; and thru to ululating songs about solitude; a rolling percussive piece played by a shaman; and a mad, buzzing piece somehow played with the palm of the hand on a bamboo tube.
Highlighting a region and musics usually obscured from the the recently burgeoning ethnographic musical industry, ‘Music Of Southern Laos’ offers a rare overview of folk styles from the Champasak, Attapeu, Sekong & Saravan provinces bordered by Vietnam and Thailand, and home to a panoply of marginalised ethnic communities which Jeanneau places particular focus upon.
Given their proximity to Thailand, the music of Southern Laos perhaps understandably bears resemblance to the Thai folk-pop style of Molam in their singing, as documented in some of the LP’s most charming pieces, such as the slow, elegant sway of ‘Lao Lam Saravan’, but our personal highlights are the beguiling instrumentals, including the mesmerising metallic scrapes and glances of ‘Brao Lave Gongs’ from the Brao minority, as well as the beautifully drowsy ‘Alak Gongs’ of the Alak minority, played by three elderly performers surrounded by crowing cockerels and tropical fauna.
Colour us utterly enchanted.