Various Artists (Kribo Records): Sounds Of Lecak Vol. 1 [Album Review]

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Various Artists (Kribo Records)
Sounds Of Lecak Vol. 1
Guruguru Brain [2022]

Even with the internet connecting us with people all over the world, it’s often easy to look past music scenes in other countries. Whether it’s because of a (perceived) language barrier, genre pigeonholing (“world” music), or just the sheer amount of music there is to keep track of, seeking out new artists and songs from across the globe can be daunting—unless, that is, you have someone to point you at the good stuff.

Thankfully that’s the case here, where Amsterdam label Guruguru Brain (the home of psych-rockers Kikagaku Moyo, among many others) have collaborated with Singapore-based Kribo Records mastermind Maggot to showcase the latter’s work with a plethora of regional acts on Sounds of Lecak Vol. 1. Recording and playing on every track here, Maggot’s musicianship is the high point of the collection, imbuing every track with a grimy, vintage feel that aligns with the title (“lecak” being an indigenous word that means “moist,” “wet,” or “muddy,“ but can also mean something like “naughty” depending on the context). Multiple genres are covered over the compilation’s twenty tracks, sometimes within the same song.

While the first half of the collection leans toward soul and funk, there’s plenty of psychedelic flavor present. The opener “Prem Durga,” for example, weds a heavy funk beat to a lead sitar melody, achieving a nice blend of trippiness and foot-tapping rhythm. Similar fusions pop up throughout the album, like on Wah Wah Thai’s “Maak,” a snaky track with (you guessed it) wah-wah guitar, bubbling synth, and a steady back beat. “Thai Whiskey” by Golden Mile Band is another highlight of the first half, with its funky, almost disco rhythms and prominent guitar work.

The second half of the compilation heads in a more psych-influenced direction. The funky drums are still there, but there’s a heavier emphasis on guitars and several tracks feature prominent vocal hooks. Budak Bawah Blok’s “Teksi Dreba” is full-on garage psych, with a bluesy lead guitar riff that feels almost like something early Led Zeppelin or the classic “Mark II” Deep Purple might have jammed on. A group called The Ugly Voices makes several appearances, and what they may lack in vocal chops they make up in the catchiness of their songwriting and their high-energy instrumental performances. Golden Mile Band returns towards the end with the Pink Floyd-esque “Morning Sex,” a floating, bluesy guitar jam, before Aaliya brings things to a close with “Penghujung Dubai,” a echo-drenched track that sounds like an early 60s “girl group” ballad with a Pet Sounds-era Brian Wilson backing track.

Sounds of Lecak Vol. 1 is a great listen for those who like a little funk in their garage psych, or some trippy guitar solos in their soul-jazz instrumentals. Don’t let the lack of English lyrics or the fact that you’ve never heard of any of these acts scare you away—you’ll be missing out on some great music if you do!

The Kirbo Brothers – “Yokoso” / Golden Mile Band – “Thai Whiskey” / Budak Bawah Blok – “Teksi Dreba”

Karma Chief Records (Colemine Records) / Numero Group / Daptone Records

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