Exploring psychedelic Thai molam music with The Whitest Crow

Exploring psychedelic Thai molam music with The Whitest Crow

Thailand has a wealth of fascinating original music, but a style known as molam has enjoyed a resurgence as of late.

What used to be a popular form of music in the 60s and 70s is now viewed as highly invigorating and fascinating by international collectors and far-reaching musicians, especially Texas' Khruangbin. Molam (also known as Mor lam) originated as rural folk music that was practiced for centuries — until strong influence from Western genres like soul, funk and rock n roll became apparent from the late 60s into the 70s, garnering popularity across the country.

Modern Thai bands like Khun Narin and Paradise Bangkok Molam International Band carry on the genre's distinct charms, with adventurous songwriting and spirited live shows now extended beyond their shores.

Molam's magnetic psychedelia and fuzzy recordings have made them highly sought after by crate-diggers visiting the country, and we got indie rock band The Whitest Crow — themselves purveyors of psychedelic delights — to guide us into the gritty and vivid world of molam music with personal picks by the band and their frontman, Tritle.

The band were recently in Singapore to perform at the first Pandarocketship Rocks Aliwal showcase.

Carabao - 'Made In Thailand'

This song sounds like half of Molam mixed with slightly Thai country music.

But the most interesting part of this song are the guitar riffs, derived from real Thai Molam. It has a classic intro that's very memorable. Side note: our song 'Bangkok Blondie' is influenced by Made in Thailand.

The Surapon Alias Fox - 'Nang Maew Pee (The Ghost Of Catwoman)'

Not only a 70's groovy tune, but the most interesting element of this song is someone who tries to scream like a ghost cat. It's a funny and freaky piece of work that we can sing and dance along to.

Waipod Phetsuphan - 'Ding Ding Dong'

'Ding Ding Dong' itself has a humorous meaning behind the word, which we can interpret to several meanings — of course, it's kind of naughty. We won't tell you here! (laughs). Another classic hit from the 70's era that's still recognized as one of the best of funky Mor lam Thai Music.

Orn-Uma Singsiri - 'Mae Kha Som Tam'

Everyone knows what's Som Tum and I think this track was written in such a very creative way to represent our culture, lifestyle of Thai people and music scene at that time. The psychedelic guitar intro is catchy and the song talks about a woman who sells Som-Tum and her daily life, acting as a girl's diary somehow.

Sroeng Santi - 'Kuen Kuen Lueng Lueng (Black Sabbath's 'Iron Man' Cover)'

Inspired by the Godfathers of heavy metal – Black Sabbath. It actually means "Up Up, Down Down” in Thai. This song is far beyond a mere cover of the original version. Sroeng rewrote the lyrics to form other meanings.

He explained about the "waxing and the waning of the moon and the sun". Very solid stuff, showing how the Luk Thung Underground and Western Music connect to each other.

Plearn Promdan - 'Ying Ting'

Yes, this song's story does not end well — with the gun-shot sound and lovelorn lyrics — but I like the way that Plearn represents a tragic moment as a dark comedy. 'Ying Ting' is a post-break up song, a hit song about heartbreak. It has a bit of a freak-out meaning. But still, it is my favorite so far.

The band's answers have been edited and condensed.