An oasis of tranquility

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(From left) Annie Sawasdiraksa, PR and Marketing Manager West One Music Thailand; Somnuek Saeng-Arun, musicologist and specialist performer; Richard Harvey, West One Music co-founder and world class composer; Chris Craker, Karma Sound Studios founder and world renowned record producer; and Chamnongchit Harvey, Managing Director, Orient Music Co., Ltd)
(From left) Annie Sawasdiraksa, PR and Marketing Manager West One Music Thailand; Somnuek Saeng-Arun, musicologist and specialist performer; Richard Harvey, West One Music co-founder and world class composer; Chris Craker, Karma Sound Studios founder and world renowned record producer; and Chamnongchit Harvey, Managing Director, Orient Music Co., Ltd)

At a recent press conference, several distinguished musicians assembled to introduce a selection of music specially produced to celebrate the Coronation of His Majesty King Vajiralongkorn. The recordings were made locally and were donated free of charge to the Television Pool of Thailand for use in upcoming programmes broadcasting the Coronation.

Few people realize that just outside Pattaya, in the leafy outskirts of Bang Saray, there’s a luxury, resort-style, recording studio complex with multiple recording spaces and accommodation within the grounds of exotic tropical gardens. Originally, the land was an unknown area of unspoiled jungle until ten years ago when top British music industry executive and well-known record producer Chris Craker took on the challenge of creating a world-class recording and production facility on the land.

Richard Harvey.
Richard Harvey.

Karma Sound Studios is a multi-million baht complex and has become a mecca for some of the biggest names in the global music industry and a growing list of talented young musicians from Thailand. Chris is no stranger to the recording industry having already produced over 450 albums over the years, including over a hundred recordings at the legendary Abbey Road Studios in London.

His connections with Thailand began in 1996, when Chris was asked to produce a recording to celebrate His Majesty King Bhumiphol Adulayadej’s fifty years on the throne. This was a landmark project for Chris and the start of making nine further albums of His Majesty’s music, often alongside the late M L Usni Pramoj, a distinguished Thai composer and performing musician. This royal connection was one of the reasons that Chris set about creating Karma Studios here in Thailand.

Today, Karma Studios is the result of years of hard work in developing an impressive state-of-the-art recording facility. Most of the equipment was imported from Britain and America and the control room is dominated by a gigantic 56-channel mixing desk. Surprisingly perhaps, despite the presence of all the technology the atmosphere at Karma is extraordinarily tranquil and you can feel the Zen-like peaceful ambience the moment you walk through the studio doors. The studios and their surrounding buildings have a light and airy aspect and are a perfect location for professional musicians to rehearse and record.

In recent months, Karma Studios has collaborated with the leading music production company West One in bringing together top musicians from Thailand and the UK to produce a series of recordings dedicated to His Majesty King Vajiralongkorn on the auspicious occasion of his Coronation. The project involved West One Music providing nine tracks from its library of recorded music to which the Thai musician Acharn Somnuek Saengarun and his team added traditional instruments such as the khim, flute, ranad and drums to create beautiful music with a distinctive Thai character. The performances were recorded at Karma Sound Studios and the project was overseen by West One Music’s co-founder and composer Richard Harvey. Other participating musicians were Prasarn Wongwirosuk and Lerkiat Mahavinichaimontri.

Richard Harvey’s skills as a multi-instrumentalist have been called upon for both live performances and major feature films. Richard is also a distinguished composer of film music with over seventy television and film projects to his credit. He has become an important presence in the Thai film industry ever since he composed the music for four of the biggest movies ever produced in Thailand, including the epic series King Naresuan.

Somnuek Saeng-Arun
Somnuek Saeng-Arun

Richard was honoured with a Royal invitation to work closely with executive producer Francis Ford Coppola and write the music for the major historic Thai movie Suriyothai which has become recognized as a classic of Thai cinema. In addition, he has given concerts for Her Majesty Queen Sirikit and Her Royal Highness Princess Sirindhorn and is proud to be co-founder of the ROSL/Conrad “Young Musician of Thailand” awards. Richard Harvey is currently working on the score for a major 26-part UK TV sci-fi series Gerry Anderson’s Firestorm and is involved in the scoring of two major upcoming Walt Disney movies.

Karma’s Studio 1 control room.
Karma’s Studio 1 control room.

At the press conference, guests were invited to hear the newly-composed music delightfully and professionally introduced in both Thai and English by Annie Sawasdiraksa, PR and Marketing Manager of West One Music, Thailand. Later, Chris Craker, Richard Harvey and Acharn Somnuek Saeng-Arun explained the more detailed background and significance of the project. Everyone present was impressed with the remarkably evocative music. In rich and sonorous recordings, expertly crafted by Karma Studio’s audio engineer Shane Edwards, the sweeping and exotic music blended together sounds from the Thai and European musical traditions. Composer Richard Harvey explained, “This is one way to make traditional Thai music more accessible to the younger generation.”