Molam is a particularly lascivious (and versatile) style of courtship music traditional to Southern Laos. Very popular in the country of its origin, as well as Thailand, molam survived a thousand years of musical generations, eventually incorporating both pop and electronic elements. Perhaps it wasn't such a culture shock then when Jah Wobble
proposed a recording date with a group of molam singers and his own Invaders of the Heart
. The resulting Molam Dub
is just that, a true stylistic collision between traditional Laotian voices and Wobble
's technologically updated instrumental reggae. The songs work best when musical lines blur, the sound of crumhorn, shinoube, and khene (a distant cousin of the bagpipe) seeping across bass and drum tracks like the keyboards and guitars of old. Though the beats may not be the most inventive of Wobble
's career, reverting at times to proto-dub and techno, they are heavily fortified through his dense mixing style. The throbbing aqua-dub of "Lam Tang Way" is equally potent in both female and male vocal versions. Revisited again, the song survives its most threatening mix on "Lam Tang Way Dub." In instances like these (and "Lam Saravane"/"Lam Saravane Dub"), the focal point isn't clear, with every element of the music vying for your attention and the combined results winning. The techno patter of "Lam Bane Xoc" and "Lam Siphandone"'s muscular bass groove, on the other hand, are kept at a respectful distance from the Laotian vocalists for results that aren't nearly as captivating. These are the exceptions however: temporary lapses amidst a series of fairly formidable rhythms. Molam Dub
succeeds in part because the pairing seems surprisingly appropriate, but also because neither group is apprehensive about this sort of musical cross-pollination.