Evan Dale // Jan 27, 2020
There’s something eternal in certain auditory aesthetics. That something exists in certain words, and ultimately, in the names of certain genres. Swing. Bounce. Groove. Soul. Funk. Jam. Rock. Hip-Hop. Each is a spectrum that’s hard to define without the onomatopoeia-esque titling of their overarching sounds. And within each, some artists carrying a certain affinity for the longstanding pillars of their genre’s past find something timeless to their sound, even while inventing something new. In a modern scene especially where experimentation is possible at the hands of anyone who wants to make music making it with technological advances that allow so, those truly worthy of the term timeless by way of how their aesthetic would likewise hold up in another era, are exceptionally rare. But when they start playing, there’s no doubt about it. Reminiscence warms the mind and brings about memories in a listener; an urge to play the music on vinyl strikes; comparisons abound drawing an artist to others come and gone; and timeless comes to mind.
How They Compare
When one hears anything from Khruangbin, three things are certain: their sound brims with an utter adherence to the great mellow rock, soul, and funk bands of the past; their adherence to the past also plays within the realm of creative psychedelia; and even while drawing from the foundations of particularly psychedelic rock, funk, and soul, much of that intrigue also exists in their influence from the underground rock and funk scenes of underappreciated creative communities from the Asia through time. The Houston trio’s 2015 debut, The Universe Smiles Upon You, drew particularly from the Thai cassette scene of the 60’s and 70’s, while their sophomore project, 2018’s Con Todo El Mundo played on the same premises, but largely from undiscovered soul and funk bands from pre-revolution Iran. With each subsequent project release, a new study of East-meets-West but through an undeniably retrofuturistic lens, has made Khruangbin nothing if not timeless, while in the same breath, one of the great eclectic bands of our time.
When one hears anything from Raveena, three things are certain: her sound explodes with an understated soul that brings to mind the great soulstresses through time; her aesthetic blends the soulful genius of the past and the revolutionary moments much of music’s past stood for with the same mindset of the modern cloth, speaking always on the strength and overcoming of marginalized communities; even through her retrofuturistic soul sound and its place in the great lineage through Soul and R&B’s music’s social causes, she simultaneously weaves in a whole lot of her South Asian roots, redesigning Neo-Soul with a fluttery of new sonic exploration. Her 2019 debut album, Lucid was a thesis on her newly defined lane, where she introduced herself and a new direction of Neo-Soul and R&B to be more vulnerable and sonically softer while at the same time being more socially focused – especially in the arena of modern feminism and the force of femininity.
How They Contrast
Khruangbin have long been tough to tie down with definition because of the simple fact that between the trio, not a one of them seems to ever take the reins of vocalism, instead meandering sonically wherever they like by way of the freedom the lack of a font(wo)man grants them. Though there is exception like when bassist, Laura Lee adds character and jammy call-and-response to much of Khruangbin’s standout work, granting it structure, but still, they remain vocalistless. It’s part of their charm.
Raveena is a vocalist through and through. As unique and emotion-evoking as any other singer in the modern scene. Her R&B and Neo-Soul splitting register is an amalgamate between the folk-acoustic softness so many vocalists of the Indie spectrum bring to the table, and the tour-de-emotional-force so many from Soul and R&B bring as well. Explosive, yet soft, hers is a sound that lends itself perfectly to the oft-psychedelic instrumental foundation on which she curates her craft.
Proof in the Past
Long focused on their own, jam-worthy globe-trotting transcendentalism, only occasionally weaving in some simple, mellow and understated vocals, Khruangbin recently made waves with a change in their fluid formula. Over the Summer of 2020, they got in the studio with acclaimed, timeless Soul singer, Leon Bridges, and the result, a four-track EP titled Texas Sun, was one of the most past-nuanced, soul-funk-and-rock strewn masterpieces in recent memory. Though it must be the right vocalist, when Khraugnbin seemingly does find that right name, the instrumental foundation they build is the perfect platform over which an artist also brimming with the timeless nature of their own, can collaborate.
Raveena has long been a solo name, although never – on tour or in the studio – without a few of her favorite instrumentalists on the keys, the bass, and the drums that build her otherworldly, psychedelic backdrop. And whether on the road or making a new project, their work with another seems to always result in fluid Neo-Soul. In 2020 however, with her Moonstone EP, she began exploring a more 60’s and 70’s reminiscent sound brimming with psychedelic rock, funk, and of course soul.
How They Collaborate
This collaboration would be nothing if not a liquid exploration of two artistries whose prior work is already fit for the same playlist. Both Khruangbin and Raveena are modern, experimental takes on the timelessness of soul, funk, rock, and R&B intersecting with a broader worldview of from where the true greats of the past were really making music. Khruangbin are practiced in their own sonic evolution, willingly experimenting with new influence and sounds with each release, and most recently, even experimenting with the collaboration of frontman, Leon Bridges. Raveena is a game-changing soulstress whose sonic softness and socially motivated thematic discourse has quickly made her one of Neo-Soul and R&B’s most unique and necessary names. Together, Khruangbin and Raveena would effortlessly craft fluid, funky, soulful, experimental, and ultimately timeless psychedelia exploring the world and celebrating its myriad cultures through music.