Khruangbin’s Tiny Desk Concert meshes 70’s soul funk and Middle Eastern jazz

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Khruangbin | photo by Elsa Attar via NPR

Texas trio Khruangbin dropped by NPR to play a Tiny Desk Concert this week, and their set was nothing short of incredible. Khruangbin most recently opened for Chicano Batman at The TLA back in October, and you can see them again on the east coast this fall.

They played a three song set, beginning with “Maria También,” possibly the best-known track in their catalog. What sets this group apart from other instrumental artists is the fact that they rely on simplicity. They don’t pack their songs with heavy, jumping beats in order to propel the song forward where lyrics otherwise would. Instead, they let Laura Lee on the bass take charge and play a loop while Mark Speer on the guitar fills in whatever is missing in a gentle but intricate style. That mood was evident during their Tiny Desk set. The vibe was so obviously relaxed, with all three members so in sync and fearless.

They then transitioned into “August 10,” which is more reliant on the guitar for the melody. It’s another easy song to sway to, and the lack of lyrics is hardly even noticed; it carries its own weight. The bass is a constant, grounding element in this song, and Speer’s guitar freely experiments with punchy, echoing riffs.

Their final song, “White Gloves,” is the perfect closer, because we finally get to hear their voices. It’s incredibly gentle. It’s one of those songs that could be played over and over again and you’d hardly notice the loop because it’s so mesmerizing. Lee has an incredibly soft vibrato, and paired with drummer Donald “DJ” Johnson’s quick switch to the piano, it’s a masterful combination that makes me wish more of their songs sounded like this one.

Watch Khruangbin’s Tiny Desk Concert below, and catch the band back in Philadelphia on September 30th and October 1st opening for Leon Bridges. Tickets and information can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar.

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