Artist: The Cambodian Space Project
Title Of Album: Whisky Cambodia
Year Of Release: 2014
Label: Metal Postcard Records
Genre: Alternative, Pop Rock, Psychedelic, World
Quality: 320 Kbps
Total Time: 40:20 min
Total Size: 100 MB
01. Dance Twist
02. If You Wish To Love Me
03. Mountain Dance
04. Longing For The Rain
05. If You Go I Go Too
06. Here Comes The Rain
07. Black To Gold
08. Rom Rom Rom
09. When Are You Free?
10. Whisky Cambodia
Non-anglophone pop music, fashioned on American and British styles, is an under-written part of pop culture’s first wave of globalisation. Long before the digital pathways opened up, there were already a plethora of multimedia networks tying together the West with the rest: chiefly, though not exclusively, international vinyl sales, tapes, TV clips and, most importantly, radio. From Maori heavy-metal gangs to the Japanese psychedelic-rock scene of the 1970s to the multiracial, apartheid-era punk scenes in South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, these sounds and their attendant dances, clothes and attitudes have rarely spread without controversy: usually around the perceived western imperialism of culture and values, set up against protectionists concerned about the erasure or assimilation of traditional musical styles. These controversies have often been fascinating – although too often the debate drowns out the art itself and devoices the young people revelling in sounds and youthful rebellion imported from afar.
One such moment in pop-cultural history is that of the 1960s and early 1970s pop scene in Cambodia, a thriving period of joyous rock ‘n’ roll after the country gained independence from France. The essence of Motown, American funk, surf-rock, psychedelia, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and The Bee Gees rang out across the capital Phnom Penh – this spirit was captured and sung in the Khmer language and blended with local instruments and traditional rhythms. Everything changed when the Khmer Rouge seized power in 1975, and in their deranged, agrarian, xenophobic-communist revolution, pop culture was eliminated with unflinching brutality, along with anything else seen as foreign, decadent or urban – temples and libraries were destroyed, city-dwellers forced out to the countryside and even western medicine was outlawed. It’s believed there’s something in the region of 20,000 mass graves across Cambodia, and somewhere between 1 and 2 million of the country’s population perished – either executed or via starvation or disease.
In recent years, Cambodians have sought to excavate not only the meaning of one of humanity’s greatest tragedies, but the artistic freedom that reigned before 1975. The once-flourishing sound of Khmer pop music has been revived by the Cambodian Space Project, a band combining covers of songs from the lost “golden age” with their own compositions. They were formed in 2009 when Julien Poulson, an Australian, visited a karaoke bar in Phnom Penh and heard a singular, astounding voice singing Peggy Lee’s Johnny Guitar. It belonged to Srey Thy, who, together with Poulson and a cast of others, has since taken the sound of the Cambodian 1960s to the world, producing their third and most effervescent album yet, Whisky Cambodia.
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