Everybody into the Sixties Garage subculture has heard of scenes from other parts of the world : "Transworld Beat", it's been tagged by collectors (including the Far-East... ). But, while most are familiar with Japanese G.S., Rare Groove Djs having sampled the "Shadow Music" sounds of Thaïland and beginning to crate-dig the still mostly uncharted sounds of "Off-Beat Cha, Cha", a Hong Kong speciality, and Dutch Beat experts already digested the "Indo-rock" instrumental sounds of migrating groups from far-off Indonesia, the Heavy-Psych guitar sounds of the late 60's/ early 70's underground Korean scene being now recognised by the hip cognescenti... I feel the Best of all this exotica Beat comes from Cambodia's "Circle Dance Music" that, on top of having the best heady mix of swirling Freak-out Fuzz guitars and Traditional Folk rhythm and melodies, one step above "Turkish Delights", tells a truly fascinating tale of Romantic doom.
Ever since Parallel World released that limited vinyl comp' in 1996 : "Cambodian Rocks" compiled by an American tourist named Paul Wheeler from some cassettes he bought in Phnom Penh from a local Taxi diver whose service he used while touring around, I grew increasingly fascinated with that sound and what seemed to be a lost scene wiped-out by the genocide brought by the Khmer Rouge takeover of the country in 1975. Indeed, most of the original musicians were murdered and executed in the "Killing Fields" of communist reeducation. What seemed more tragic then was that the song titles and artist credits were unknown, their legacy forever lost, or so one thought... Four years later, Parallel World reissued this compilation on CD with a few extra tracks, but still without any identifying information.
But now, 7 years in the making a documentary full of never-before-seen archival footage and insightful present-day interviews is about to see the light of day : "Don't Think I've Forgotten - Cambodia's Lost Rock and Roll". The movie director, John Pirozzi, is aiming to lock image by end of may this year, hoping before DVD release to get theatrical first!
... This in itself is something of a miracle, calling for a celebration all over the world of Garage-rock lovers, and the Mainstream Rock at large even! As it is one story untold that dies to be seen and heard, if only in respect to all the dead musicians : Rejoice!
Thanks to the survivors, now mostly part of the Khmer refugees in America and the West Coast, these doomed artists will finally R.I.P.
They deserve to be known and acknowledged worldwide.
Here's the documentary synopsis by co-producer John Pirozzi
"During the 60's and early 70's, as the war in Vietnam threatened its borders, a new music scene emerged in Cambodia that took Western rock and roll and stood it on its head - creating a sound like no other.
Cambodian musicians crafted this sound from the various rock music styles sweeping across America and England, adding the unique melodies and hypnotic rhythms of their traditional music. The b...eautiful singing of the renowned female vocalists became the final touch that made this mix so enticing.
As the peasant Khmer Rouge army closed in on the capital city of Phnom Penh, Cambodian rock and rollers played at rooftop parties while bombs ignited the evening sky.
After taking over the country on April 17, 1975, the Khmer Rouge began one of the most brutal genocides in history, killing 2 million people - 1/4 of the Cambodian population. Intellectuals, artists and musicians were murdered simply for their status. Only a few miraculously survived to tell their story.
This documentary film, DON’T THINK I’VE FORGOTTEN, provides a new perspective on a country usually associated with war and genocide. By celebrating this powerful music, and the people who created it, Cambodia's musical heyday emerges from the shadows of tragedy into the light of history."
Check the Official trailer here :
(And you know what? ... Since then, some friendly contributors have dug
up all the missing info on that historical "Cambodian Rocks" comp'; here's the tracklist at last :
01. Yol Aularong - Jeas Cyclo (4:30)
02. Ros Sereysothea - Chnam oun Dop-Pram Muy (3:50)
03. Ros Sereysothea - Tngai Neas Kyom Yam Sra (2:14)
04. Yol Aularong + Tuk - Sou Slarp Kroam Kombut Srey (2:12)
05. Sinn Sisamouth - Srolanh Srey Touch (2:56)
06. Pan Ron - Rom Jongvak Twist (2:34)
07. Pan Ron - Knyom Mun Sok Jet Te (3:13)
08. Liev Tuk - Rom Sue Sue! (3:23)
09. Ros Sereysothea + Seang Vanthy - Jam 10 Kai Thiet (3:23)
10. Ros Sereysothea + Seang Vanthy - Jah Bong Ju Aim (3:36)
11. Sinn Sisamouth + Ros Sereysothea - Maok Pi Naok (1:54)
12. Sinn Sisamouth - Phneit Oun Mean Evey? (3:59)
13. Yol Aularong - Yuvajon Kouge Jet
14. Meas Samon - Jol Dondeung Kone Key
15. Ros Sereysothea - Kerh Songsa Kyoum Thai!
16. Ros Sereysothea - Chnang Jas Bai Chgn-ainj
17. Ros Sereysothea + Seang Vanthy - Kone Oksok Nas Pa
18. Ros Sereysothea - Kom Kung Twer Evey
19. Ros Sereysothea - Penh Jet Thai Bong Mouy
20. Pan Ron & In Yeng - Sralanh Srey Chnas
21. Sinn Sisamouth + Meas Samon - Komlos Teng Bey
22. Ros Sereysothea - Retrey Yung Joup Knea
... In 2003 the official "Khmer Rocks" site launched a CD only series of 4 volumes also called "Cambodian Rocks", this time with full credits and annotations :
And of course, Lion Productions later released two CD/ DoLP deluxes in their "Groove Club series Vol. 2 and 3 with full blown liners :
Check alternate Trailer video here : http://vimeo.com/19178517
Let's hope indeed this lost (and terribly Romantic) Rock'n'Roll story finaly gets told, SOON!
Thanks to Linda ;)
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