In the pantheon of Western-tilted South East Asian tribute groups, Oakland, California's Neung Phak (pronounced: "Noong PAHK") have carved out a decade's worth of inspired and unique recordings and performance since their 2001 debut, (birthed as a spin-off from legendary Bay Area group Mono Pause). Galvanized by exposure to thousands of South East Asian cassette tapes, LPs and radio broadcasts harvested during years of travels (co-founder Mark Gergis is a key conspirator with international record label Sublime Frequencies), the 7-piece group play folk and pop sounds from Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, Vietnam and elsewhere, using a variety of Western and non-Western instruments. Neung Phak delivers international sounds that trade the gloss and sheen of so-called "World Music" for the energy and unpredictability you can find when you're somewhere else. After two releases on Abduction and several performances and tours, Neung Phak have returned with their second full-length studio LP. 2 showcases molam-folk pop and acid-rock haunting from Thailand's yesterday and today, Javanese dancefloor dangdut, and Cambodian instrumental dramas - all retold in inimitable Neung Phak parlance. The stunning Indonesian pop gem, "Bang Toyib," features guest Alan Bishop (Sun City Girls) on Bahasa vocals. Thai dance-pop cuts "Poot" and "Poo Jud" feature veteran singer Diana Hayes. The damning "F***ing USA" was purportedly recorded in a North Korean studio - and the epic retelling of the classic southern Thai-styled "Sat Chatri" closes down the album in sprawling, psychedelic form.
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