Friday, 5 March 2010

Illegible Thai mania

Wow, well this is an interesting one. On a charity shop voyage one often finds bizarre and intriguing cassettes penned in exotic, foreign alphabets that they can't read or understand for shit. Many times over these have turned out to be boring Eastern European pop ballad offerings which are good for a 30 second laugh then get taped over. I expected as much with this but got it anyway after being convinced by my friend that it was worth it. Plus it has a nice yellow box which is a plus.

Anyhow, when I popped this bad boy in I was instantly blown apart by the distilled cool which began to emit from my purple tape player. Imagine my delight when I found that in place of Eastern European cack lay a long tape of blissful and trippy Thai islander pop. All of these songs come over as a gorgeous and odd Thai take on fruity Calypso and skanky Reggae like jams, all the while retaining a very Asian quality. There is comical wailing from the male/female team, floaty clarinet and other horn work, metallic clang and rattle driving the rhythm and all manner of other tangible vibe creation. It's actually quite hard to do justice to with a description but this one is a beach banger that all the lofi ethnic weirdness lovers will die over.

Of equal interest to the music is it's mysterious, info free origin. What the fuck is this and how did it get here? The best I have been able to gather is that the label which put this out (Rota Records-Tapes LTD) is/was a Thai/Chinese manufacturer of all kinds of Asian music with releases that number in the hundreds. There is no English at all on the J-card and there is a handstamped 'Rota Records-Tapes LTD' emblem which, excruciatingly, becomes unreadable by the time it reaches what appears to be a date of release. GUTTED. Anyhow, I'm sure if I could read the cover it'd all become clear, so anyone who can help with that please get in touch. Also, anyone who can shed light on Rota or related stuff should also let me know.

P.S. Apologies for the shit photo and lack of titles/artist/album info. I hope the ID3 tage of 'Awesome thai thing' will suffice.



peter said...

hey there!
i was steered this direction by cnjnctvsynth, who rightly suspected i might be able to help you out with some info about this tape.

what you've got here are some classic thai holiday tunes!! the celebration in question in "loi krathong", and the music is by the inimitible suntaraphon, a big band collective evolved from the thai government public relations department orchestra. the rhythm is called "ramwong", which means circle dance.. it was a kind of engineered dance craze intended to inject some "local pride" into the imported swing & latin moves that were sweeping thailand in the 40's & 50's. these tunes are quite fondly remembered still (i think these recordings were made in the late 50's or early 60's), and every november they flood the subway stations through the tinny p.a. speakers! it's great!

and as an added bonus, here's a video of the lead track, live on thai tv!

Anonymous said...

hi peter, thanks for that!

sounds like it would be fun to dance to. in small doses!