EM Records again shines the spotlight on legendary Thai producer Surin Phaksiri in this second edition of his classic productions from the 1960s-80s. The first edition, released in 2019, focused on his innovative productions in the luk thung (*1) style. This 2022 release features his stellar, glowing molam (*2) gems from the 60s-80s, drawn mainly from his golden era in the late 70s and early 80s. Surin Phaksiri is a highly esteemed figure in Thai music, rooted deeply in his native region of Isan in northeast Thailand, a producer with a deep respect for the traditional artistry of his culture, yet always moving forward, looking outward, listening ahead. The molam style of Thai music showcases the voice; indeed, the genre’s name means “expert singer”, and Thailand is blessed with an abundance of experts, singers with amazing control, grace, vitality and finesse. This collection of 22 songs (18 only for digital download) features 15 singers, ranging from venerated legends to unjustly unheralded masters of the art. These songs were recorded and released after the era of the 7-inch single; with the advent of the cassette boom in Thai music, most producers adopted a quantity-over-quality conveyer belt production style, churning out soundalike material to fill the expanded length of cassette tape. Phaksiri resisted these tides and continued to work with a single-song mindset, tailoring each production’s instrumentation and arrangement to precisely fit each singer and song. This care and integrity can be clearly heard in this sweetly groovy collection. These gems, originally released on 7-inch vinyl, are all first-time official reissues, a project years in the making. Compiled by Soi48, who also provide liner notes. Cover art by Shinsuke Takagi (Soi48).
1) Luk thung: A musical genre whose name means ʻcountry personʼs songʼ or ʻchildren of the fieldʼ . The name became established in the latter half of the 1960s and now has the status of a national genre of popular song unique to Thailand. The lyrics of luk thung songs deal mainly with the rural idyll, comparisons between the city and the countryside, life in the big city and current affairs. There are certain typical traits to the music, but no official musical form.
2) Molam: "mo" is an expert and "lam" is a kind of performance art where the artist tells a story using tonal inflexions. In other words, the term molam refers to both the singer and art form. Molam pieces are not strictly speaking "songs".