This Blog is a collection of my recordings from travelling around Asia

This Blog is a collection of my recordings and collectings from travelling around Asia...
expect lots of obscure instruments, strange sounds, electric and acoustic instruments, obscure records and tapes, and any other sounds i find on the road.
Please be Patient, as the site is very content heavy, the Soundcloud streams are a bit slow to load...

Monday, December 12, 2011

Acoustic Morlam Jam

After the second night at the Temple, the musicians invited me back to their house for more whiskey, food and some more music.

The Guy on the left is the Phin Player/vocalist for most of these recordings, as well as the soloist on most of the full band recordings, he is also responsible for the full color murals at the monastary. The guy in the middle was the youngest of the group, playing bass and percussion mostly, he spoke the best english. The third dude is the main MC as well as a percussionist, he was too drunk to sing by this point though, born in Lao in the 1950s.

Here are selected recordings from that night:
In the end of the fourth track you can hear one of the guys (middle in the top picture) give me the headscarf i'm wearing  in the photo below, because i gave him my leather jacket at a previous show.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Second Night of Morlam band at Temple

Second night of performances at the temple, This time with an Erhu, and two hand drums.
Later tracks are better, they start playing harder.
Later, the musicians, the guitarist and Phin player took me into the Temple, where they have been living while painting the inner sanctuary, the Phin player did the murals, while the guitarist was responsible for the gold stenciling on the columns. here's pics of the murals:

Recordings from an acoustic jam at the musicians house up soon

Friday, November 18, 2011

Morlam Band busking at the temple in Chiang Khan,. Three of the same players from the previous night's restaurant show, the Kong player is on guitar, but only playing the bass strings, the bass Phin player is on a standard Phin, and one of the vocalists is playing drum and working the crowd. They are joined by an old man playing Pong Lang, and a female vocalist with a Ching. Nice mellow stuff, they took a while to fall into the groove, so the later tracks are more interesting, track 10 "Morlam Sing," is a stand out track. Another set with an Ehru player coming soon.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Siam Center Violinist redux

Very excited about this, a collaboration between a Thai street musician and an American drummer, my good friend and amazing drummer, Colin Fahrner, drummer for Big Tree much love to Colin for putting this together and sending it my way. enjoy:
Siam Man +drums by EarSphere

Monday, November 14, 2011

Loi Kratong Festival in Chiang Khan

During the Loi Kratong festival, where the Thai's traditionally build rafts out of banana leaves, filled with fresh flowers, candles and inscense, this is lit and the raft is placed in the nearest river. Which in my case happened to be the Mekong, not only the Mekong, but the most beautiful spot on the mekong i have yet visited. The main staging ground for the festival was right along the river accompanied by a live Luk Thung band of students from the local school. Unfortunately, they struggled to keep pace with the tempo changes,my recording of them will be in a later post.

Earlier in the day, while wandering about, on the outer edges of the city near the market, i noticed a stage and restaurant set up that had not been there previously. The set up thrilled me, Two Phins, a full trap kit, a Kaen (the vertical bamboo pan-pipe), a Song (curved hammered dulcimer), and set of Kong (hand drums). When i returned later in the night, i was not disappointed.
The band was tearing it up, i hung around the periphery for a bit, trying to sus out if it was a private party or open event, not wanting to be disrespectful. A group of older Thai ladies approached me shortly after i had started to record and demanded i join them for a dance. I couldn't say no, the Morlam groove is infectious, its impossible to stand still. The name says it all Mor-lam literally translates as "Dance Professor" (despite my earlier mis-translation "expert singer" i have it from a Thai source I trust that the proper translation is the one above). I set the recorder to record, and joined the ladies for dancing, food and drinking. The band poured me a glass of whiskey after i'd been dancing a while, i couldn't say no. The ladies kept trying to feed me from their table full of food, ate some, but focused my energies on dancing and recording. By the end of the set I was the only one dancing, my friends who had initially pulled me in had called it a night, but the band continued to play until most of the tables were packed up, i can only think for my benefit, as after my friends left, it was only me and one other table far in the back in attendance. As the band packed up, talked to everybody, although there was little English spoken, and my Thai insufficient, we were both clearly happy to be in the others company. At multiple points in these recordings the singer is mentioning me, to what end I'm not sure. I recommend tracks 5-10, but they're all pretty good. Track nine is nice and sparse, Just Kaen and vocals, with a tiny contribution from the, by this point, very drunk Phin player on the Bass Phin.
The next two days, I kept seeing these same musicians playing in various places all through out town. have about 30 more recordings of this band in various incarnations, including where there is actually a Song player as well as an Erhu. Look for these in the coming days. My last day in Chiang Khan, I played drums in one of their performances, and they had me over to their house, where i was treated to more food and drinking, as well as an acoustic jam. So much love for and from these guys.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Chinese Dragon Festival Nong Khai

I was lucky enough to return to Nong Khai the day before this festival started. A celebration of Chinese culture, and residents that occurs all over Thailand. The day is filled by two groups of paraders, who visit all the chinese shops in town. One group is the Dragon group, carrying three dragons of different sizes, from 20 people to around 60 people. Each Dragon is followed by a large drum/drummer in a push cart and a group of cymbalists. Here is a recording from the dragons passing through the local market.
Dragon Day Parade Through Market by EarSphere
The other set of Paraders is four groups of musicians/performers, who perform blessing ceremonies at every Chinese owned shop, the following recordings are from a blessing performed at the restaurant near the main communal rest area. The performance groups include a large group of male dancers with thick wooden sticks, followed by a cart drum, cymbal ensemble, and a group of children with hand drums. A girl group with a cart drum, many cymbalists, a gong, an amplified Yangqin, a few Erhus, and a flute. One other performance group, featuring mostly males, brightly colored silks and another drum cart.
Chinese Dragon Festival Parade, By the Rest Area by EarSphere
Next set is the same performers as before playing at the Police station. Seemed as if they played harder for the cops then anywhere.
Chinese Dragon Festival Police Station Performance by EarSphere
The day was also marked by thousands of firecrackers exploding everywhere, as you can hear. Got a fun recording of a kid trying to light a huge strand of fire crackers with a big crowd gathered. He fails a couple times, much to the crowd's dismay, then suddenly they all blow up at once.
Trying to Light Firecrackers by EarSphere
At night, there was an extremely long performance at the Chinese School in town featuring a group of performers from Udon Thani. It included the two person Chinese Lion, performing various acrobatics, In these recordings running across jars, later, running over ascending stilts to drum rhythms. It was hard to get clean recordings in such a big crowd, and the music was basically the same. The long Track is the Lion running over Large clay vases, to get to a bottle of booze on the other side, and precede to get stumbling drunk. Narrated by the Thai MC.
Chinese Lion performance Nk by EarSphere
More details on the Festival on the Log Blog soon.
Over and Out.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Phin player at Chatuchak Market

Another street preformer in bangkok this time near the Chatuchak weekend market 28 acres of market space featuring everything from antiques, to japanese clothing, to all manner of pets.
This is an older Phin player and his son with a pre-recorded backing track, The first song is just the older player, the second tracks for the first 2:30 or so his son is playing, couldn't be more then seven years old. Some great solos when daddy takes over.
Chatuchak Weekend Market Phin Player by EarSphere

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Violinist at Siam Center Bangkok

First update, back on the road, in Bangkok. Violinist at the bottom of the Stairs from the BTS station at Siam Center. Running a beat-up violin through a portable amplifier, with nasty distortion.

Siam Center Violinist by EarSphere

more soon, enjoy.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Morlam CDs Mp3s

Two more CDs of Morlam music coming from thailand.
No videos, just MP3s, Here's a taste:

Links to the individual tracks under each cover (front for t.1 back for t.2). Sample track is the first song on the first album. enjoy.

Back to Thailand soon. More to come.

Friday, August 12, 2011

How to: Megaupload and some Morlam from Laos

Quick Tutorial For the Copywrite Infringement Illiterate:
When you click any of the CD covers on this page it'll route you to megaupload. i did this rather then linking direct to the streamed video, so that if you wanted you could download. Excuse the ads, nothing comes for free.
to download, wait 45 seconds, then the regular download, keep in mind most of these are half hour long video files, around 300 MB.
To stream: Click the Link that says View on Megavideo (see below), sometimes it takes a while for the video to be put on megavideo, but it will be there eventually, once i get everything i want up on megaupload and the blog, then i'll put selections on a different streaming site like with the skeleton puppets. 
Now, some morlam videos i'm pretty sure are from Lao, the Language they're speaking is Lao, which admittedly isn't uncommon for Isan Morlam, but pretty sure the record co. is Lao. To add further confusion, some of the scenic backdrops appear to be in Lao and some in Thailand.
the point of which is, i don't really know shit. but they're enjoyable videos, and its a decent example of slightly more old style morlam. Same girl dancing in front of green screen in every video, but different background scenery, ooohhh,

 I think i have three more videos off this VCD buried somewhere, as always more to come....
Don't forget to put yr greasy earballs onto my new blog as well... Incredible Images and Audio of the Interwebs An agregator of Videos and other music related content i find online and find interesting. Usually with a central theme, keep yr eyes peeled, I've got a huge piece in the works on Yoshida Tatsuya, the brilliant Japanese drummer which includes footage of nearly everything he's been involved in since the early 80s (15+ bands)...
Over and out

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Molam with Traditional Dancers

Another Morlam VCD from Thailand. These guys are huge in the Isan Molam scene, with a prolific set of releases. The video shows the "full" band playing in a variety of Scenic settings, i put "full" in scare-quotes because, like a lot of the VCDs a trap kit features prominently in the mix, but yet is not to be seen playing anywhere in the video. The music is still great though, and the video fun.

As usual, two links to watch or download, .avi format. Click the covers to enjoy.

Keep checking here, have some Great Lao Morlam Videos still forthcoming, as well as a VCD entitled "Traditional Music of NE Thailand," which isn't actually that traditional, and Volume 2 of the Skeleton puppets.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Morlam Dancin Ladies.

Some more Electric Morlam from Isan, A little cheesier then our skeletal friends but still rocking. Featuring cute Thai go-go dancers. Keep yr eyes open for the midgets, they're the best part. Each Image (front and back) is a link to download or watch the first or second track respectively, enjoy.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Morlam VCD

A Brief Introduction to Molam (หมอลำ)

Molam (หมอลำ, Mor lam, Morlum) Music is a traditional form from Southern Laos and the Isan Region of Thailand. Molam literally translates to "expert song," or "expert singer," In southern Laos the music is known as "Aslam" (ລຳ) whereas "Mor lam" refers to the preformer or singer.

After thousands of years in development, Molam Music has many different iterations, ranging from the extremely traditional (acoustic instruments, traditional costume, etc.) to the extremely Modern, largely Thai iterations which encorporate Trap Kits (electronic or standard), electric keyboards, electric guitars, electric bass, and electric versions of many of the key traditional instruments.

The Main instruments of Molam are the Reed Organ, ("Kaen" or "แคน") The Phin (พิณ), a three string hollow body guitar type instrument played with a pick, sometimes outfitted with an electric guitar pickup, and ran at high volume (highly distorted) through an amplifier, or played as an acoustic instrument, as in the recording of Mr. Sewarak below. The Vot (โหวด), a cicular pan pipe made of bamboo with a sphere of pitch that sits on the lips allowing quick chord progressions to be executed. Pong Lang (โปงลาง), which is a simplified xylophone, without sounding tubes, usually strung between two points, with one end higher then the other, played with two curved wooden mallets. The Sing (ฉิ่ง) and Sap (ฉาบ) which are hand cymbals used to maintain tempo, in more modern Molam, featuring a drum kit these instruments are frequently replaced by the cowbell.

Most of the Molam presented here is "Morlam Sing," which is the modern Isan version of Molam, combining traditional Lam segments with bits of Luk Thung, with electronic instruments and vibrant stage shows. "Morlam Sing," is a reference to Thai biker culture "by sing" translates as "to go racing about on motorbikes."

Molam in Isan Mainly serves a festival function, at festivals or parades (of which there are many), Brightly painted trucks loaded with massive soundsystems, compete for aural and visual dominance, sometimes these soundsystems play recorded music or serve as a stage from which a Molam Band will preform, often with the Phin players walking in front of the slow moving truck.

The First Example:

Part 2
Part 1
A great Little two Part VCD from ITC (need a translation for band name). The first few minutes of each part are available as a Divx stream and the full videos can be downloaded as .avi from Megaupload by clicking the cover photo.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Best of Ear Sphere So Far (Soundcloud)

people were having problems downloading, so i've put the best of my recordings on SoundCloud, for ease of access. When i get back on the road again, expect to have lots of recordings available for download, and the best up on SoundCloud, Enjoy:

Monks chant Luang Probang by EarSphere

Pi Mai Parade Luang Probang by EarSphere

Competing Monastaries Luang Probang by EarSphere

Luang Probang Night market Erhu 1 by EarSphere

Luang Probang Night market Erhu 5 by EarSphere

Monk's chant + thunderstorm best by EarSphere

Nong Khai Frogs after rain 3 by EarSphere

Mr Samak Sewarak on guitar by EarSphere

Mr Samak Sewarak on Phin by EarSphere

Keep it Locked here Molam Videos Coming today

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Mr. Samarak Sewarak Nong Khai

Wonderful bum with long hair, an acoustic Phin, and Acoustic guitar, a dylan style harmonica mount, and one boot with washers mounted on a steel bar for percussion.
8 Guitar Tracks including one where you can hear the Vietnamese owned chopstick factory, and another one Mr. Sewarak called the "ganja song"
2 Phin Tracks, short but franticly awesome
Link to Folder Here

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

two tracks from northern Lao

Luang Nam Tha Keyboard party for airlines employs here
Nong Khiaw Soundscape here

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Pi Mai Parade Drums

The drummers from the first day parade with elephants Here
Lots of music around for Pi Mai, but not safe to record...

Wats and Thunderstorms

Competing Wats at four o'clock, Luang Probang Here
Distant Thunder, Distant Monks, Close Family Here
Best Recording of Thunder and Chanting Here

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Luang Probang Party

some wild yamaha driven sounds from Luang Probang Late night some of these files are large...
Link Here

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Night Market Erhu

Lots of recordings from an Erhu Player at the night market:
Here (not a very clean recording, some pops i couldn't fix)

Luang Probang Monk Chang

Over Amplified (through a crappy PA and Air Raid style metal speaker cones) chanting from a Monastary on the other side of the Nam Khong over the old Soviet Bridge.
there was a dog in the temple that really hated falongs, everyone that came through he barked at, so i made most of the recordings just outside of the temple wall, but this is the first one, and the dog is standing right next to me barking his head off. couldn't fix the clipping.
there was a break with some pre-recorded music Here
then a second monk took over the chanting Here

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Managed to get one of the shorter tracks from the Erhu player on the street at the night market, have about ten more longer tracks of this guy still to come. link Here

Saturday, March 26, 2011

So many great recordings the last few days, first, monks chanting through a huge PA, then  Erhu street musician, wild Yamaha driven dance party etc. unfortunately the internet is too damn slow to upload. Here is just a small taste of whats to come.
working on ways to get stuff up, so expect a bunch of goodies soon.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

First rain in Vientiane

A recording of the first rainfall in Vientiane Laos in three months, some good thunder at about 2:30
link here

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

4000 frogs

two recordings from Dome Khone Island, southern Lao
Frogs 1
frogs 2

Friday, February 18, 2011

three recordings from Hue

four men playing guitar on the street, short clip, they weren't doing much exciting link here
two recordings of Kareoke in Hue, pretty funny, Kareoke is huge in Vietnam, it seems to be the main form of group entertainment link here and here the latter has about 45 seconds of street noise, and is a quieter song, but has some great moments of very enthusiastic singing.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Three Recordings from Cat Ba island

The sound of the "hydrofoil," which was just a crappy speedboat Here
Public Announcement over loudspeaker in Cat Ba island, this is around 6 PM also played around 6 AM mainly music Here
Longer Recording of the PA system with more talking and less music, also boat sounds Here

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Traveling, seeing, being, learning, growing. doing my little bit against homogeneous mass culture.