The Reel Banditos, Indochina
The Reel Banditos are an instrumental trip-hop duo based in Hamburg. On Indochina, their second album, the Reel Banditos incorporate lots of unprocessed sounds in their material, from guitars to keyboards to all sorts of percussion. The nominal subject of the record is the Vietnam War, but only a few of the songs are directly inspired by the war; it seems to be more of a loose theme. Concept aside, the record does cover a broad range of feels, from heavy rock to hip-hop to more electronic sounds. And they do have good taste in riffs.
One of the coolest beats is “Huey,” which, appropriately enough, begins with loud thudding drums processed to sound like helicopter rotors, which become a theme throughout. The song has a big, heavy rock feel to it, accompanied by loud distorted guitar chords, but despite its heaviness, it somehow remains groovy.
“The Continental” manages to combine a spacey, atmospheric beat with lots of percussion and a disorienting feel. The band members use extremely long delay to keep things floating and keep things slightly off-kilter by occasionally weaving an extra beat in, along with an occasional piano dissonant cluster. Not the sort of thing you normally find in your trip-hop.
Overall, Indochina is a beautiful record, covering a wider range of ground than you might otherwise expect. And they are good at coming up with cool melodies, from the slide guitar in “Grunt,” to the minimalist marimba part in “The Cu Chi Tunnels,” to the distorted guitar in “Poisoned Sky.” And all the parts come together in occasionally unpredictable ways. These guys have put together something unusual.