Review: Anguished Khan – Karung Guni EP

(Digital, 2024)

No.5256

In the realm of experimental music, it’s not uncommon for artists to draw inspiration from the most unconventional sources. Anguished Khan’s latest release, “Karung Guni EP,” is a testament to this tradition, offering listeners a deep dive into the world of Southeast Asia’s scrap collectors through an immersive auditory experience.

Anguished Khan is Chris Phinney (Mental Anguish – synthesizers, electronics, fx, production & final mix, cover art) and Adam Naworal (La Rowan Khan – EP concept, DrumBrute Impact, Kawai Digital Piano (organ setting), cover art). Released digitally in 2024, this EP manages to encapsulate the essence of the karung guni – individuals who navigate through the day collecting recyclable materials – within its 31-minute runtime, providing a thought-provoking reflection on their lives and labors.

Sound and Structure

The EP is a lush tapestry of droning soundscapes, each layer meticulously woven to transport the listener into the karung guni’s daily journey. The droning elements serve as a backdrop, representing perhaps the constant, unending cycle of their work, while progressive bursts of buzzing electronics and metal inject moments of harsh reality into the otherwise meditative flow. This contrast is not just sonic but symbolic, highlighting the juxtaposition between the karung guni’s monotonous routines and the chaotic environments they navigate.

Anguished Khan’s ability to balance these elements is impressive, ensuring that the EP never feels monolithic or overly abrasive. Instead, there’s a harmonious interplay between the serene and the industrial, mirroring the karung guni’s interaction with both the refuse they collect and the society that produces it.

Conceptual Depth

Beyond its sonic qualities, what sets “Karung Guni EP” apart is its conceptual ambition. By choosing to focus on the karung guni, Anguished Khan sheds light on a subject that many might overlook. The EP serves as both a tribute and a commentary, inviting listeners to consider the broader implications of waste, recycling, and human labor in our globalized world.

The artist’s request for listeners to educate themselves on the subject further enriches the listening experience, adding layers of meaning to the sounds. It’s a reminder that experimental music can be a powerful medium for storytelling and social commentary, capable of sparking curiosity and empathy towards topics outside our immediate awareness.

Final Thoughts

“Karung Guni EP” is a compelling piece of work that stands out in the crowded field of experimental music. Anguished Khan has crafted an EP that is not only sonically engaging but also deeply meaningful. The careful construction of its soundscapes and the thought-provoking nature of its theme make for a listening experience that is both enjoyable and enlightening.

For those willing to embark on this sonic journey, “Karung Guni EP” promises a unique insight into the lives of those who work at the fringes of society, illuminating the beauty and resilience found in what others discard. It’s a poignant reminder of music’s power to connect us to the wider world, making the unfamiliar intimately known.

Listeners can find “Karung Guni EP” on Harsh Reality Music’s Bandcamp page. It’s a journey well worth taking, offering a perspective rarely explored in music and a sound that lingers long after the final note fades.

Listen to “Karung Guni EP”


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dabodab is a blog about various things DiY and the creative people and activities surrounding them. I am Briyan Frederick (aka Bryan Baker), probably best known as the publisher of GAJOOB and a founder of Tapegerm Collective read more.

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