"Electric Cambodia" is a fascinating compilation lovingly pieced together by LA-based Cambodian psychedelic rock band Dengue Fever. The groups and singers flourished during the brief Belle Epoque between independence from France and the brutal rise of the Khmer Rouge. The songs blend traditional Cambodian sensibilities with the current psychedelic rock in vogue. There's surf guitar in "Jasmine Girl",and "I want to shout" sounds like one of Phil Spector's girl groups. The songs are haunting,ghostly;the original recordings came from cassettes. There's something raw and authentic about them.
"Give Me One Kiss","Don't Speak","I will marry you" and "I want to be your lover" are haunting love songs. They are ethereal. It hearkens back to Cambodia's halcyon days. "Jombang Jet","Shave your beard",and "I want to shout" are more joyful. There are tracks with enigmatic names like "Unknown title" and "Unknown artist"--a sad reminder of how the Khmer Rouge ruthlessly eliminated its victims and their identities. "Hope to meet you",by an unknown artist,is a lovely instrumental. The older sister of Dengue Fever's lead singer, Chhom Nimol, went to the painstaking work of matching the songs with titles and artists. The closing tracks, "I will starve myself to death","Unknown Title",and "Cold Sky" are bleakly foreboding. While the opening songs are happy,these final three foreshadow the end to Cambodia's brief Golden Age.
"Electric Cambodia" is a powerful,haunting, beautiful compilation of psychedelic rock. If one likes vintage Cambodian rock,one can listen to:
Cambodian Rocks Volume 1 (3rd Edition)
Cambodian Rocks Volume 2
Cambodian Rocks Volume 4
Radio Phnom Penh
Dengue Fever has covered the "Shave Your Beard" song,and their "Ten Thousand Tears of the Tarantula" was named #2 in the past decade's most influential songs by Rolling Stone--by a member of Metallica no less. Their albums are amazing:
Escape from Dragon House
Venus on Earth
"Electric Cambodia",is,so far,one of the best releases of 2010.