It's been a quiet couple of weeks in terms of surf releases. So while searching for more juicy Thai and Cambodian music in advance of an upcoming vacation, I stumbled upon a killer instrumental record I'd never heard of before.
Empiricals come from Quebec, but seem much more interested in the far east. There's not a whole lot of Dick Dale here, nor Link Wray, and The Shadows probably only by proxy. If you've listened to the "Shadow Music of Thailand" compilation that Sublime Frequencies put out, you're in the right neighborhood, but I also hear the influence of a lot of Malaysian groups like The Stylers and The Quests, particularly in the great use of keyboards. And of course there's an eleki track or two. And if you've been tracking Khruangbin, one of my favorite groups of the past year or so, you'll probably eat this up. It's not about teenage adrenaline: it's easy-going, beautiful instro music that's still compatible to a surf ear but definitely fresh.
What blows me away is that this is from 2005: right when all deep-digging world music compilation labels were only starting to expose all of this great guitar music from Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam to Western audiences.. and Malaysian instrumentals are still amazingly undocumented for a western audience (it's on my list of things to do if I quit my job). Dengue Fever was only starting to get noticed. Apparently it was influenced by a trip to China (maybe the only detail I can find about this band).
Let's drag this one out of obscurity.