Graham Reid | | 1 min read
When the Khmer Rouge acted out John Lennon's Imagine ("no heaven, no possessions, no religion" etc) and undertook mass murder and driving the country back to primitive, agrarian times among the many millions killed were musicians.
That their music survived at all during those purges of people and possessions is akin to a miracle. But somehow recordings of artists in the Sixties and early Seventies who took an unusual approach to rock and traditional songs -- quite psychedelic if we take that description to mean mind-bending -- did survive. Some are on this rather odd collection, alongside newer bands like the familiar Dengue Fever and the Phnom Penh-based Cambodia Space Project.
Vocalist Ros Seresyothea is the standout on her half dozen songs for her piercingly high but flexible vocals, which come with backing ranging from weird surf-rock styles to something akin to Country Joe and the Fish.
Here too is Pan Ron (she died in the final purges when Vietnam invaded) who sounds like a slightly strange, and oddly flat in places, nightclub singer . . . but she has a real melancholy about her behind the cha-cha-cha and other odd musical settings.
Kom Veacha Th Sneha Knom here is billed as "traditional" but Cher would certainly recognise it as Bang Bang (if Yoko Ono sang it as straight as she could).
There's also a Dub Addiction track from the album Dub Addiction Meets Kampuchea Rockers Uptown, but it stands out as no more strangely psyched-out than anything else here. In fact rather less so.
The bonus disc here is by Cambodian Space Project, so this is another good double-deal from Rough Guide.
One for the more courageous listener, perhaps?