Anyone interested in Cambodia, a groovy and eclectic global sound, and a compelling tale about the melding of two cultures through music should check out “Sleepwalking Through The Mekong”, an engaging and inspiring rockumentary from Cambodian/American band, Dengue Fever.
“Sleepwalking Through the Mekong” follows L.A.-based band Dengue Fever as they travel around Cambodia to perform 60s and 70s Cambodian rock n’ roll in the country where it was created and very nearly destroyed. The odyssey is a homecoming for singer Chhom Nimol and a transformation for the rest of the band as they perform with master musicians and record new songs.
Cambodia is often synonymous with the brutal Khmer Rouge regime that left millions dead and scattered refugees around the globe. This tragedy overshadows the story of Cambodia’s music scene in the 1960s and 1970s. Cambodian musicians reinvented Western rock n’ roll with a distinctly Khmer flavor to create a sound that is at once familiar and completely original. Click on the following link for more info on “Sleepwalking Through the Mekong”, including the film trailer.
A little background – Dengue Fever – the L.A. based band that fuses Cambodian psychedelia and pop rock with American funk, R&B & Surf music, and some Ethiopian Jazz to round it out, has been the eclectic darling of the L.A. music scene since its inception in 2002. Fronted by Cambodian-born Chhom Nimol, the band originally covered versions of songs by 60’s Cambodian pop-stars like Ros Seray Sothea and Sinn Sisamouth, who were presumably killed when the Khmer Rouge took control of the country. Dengue Fever’s third and latest album, 2008s “Venus on Earth”, is largely in English, but the melodies and vocals remain hauntingly and decisively Cambodian. For more band information, check out their website.
“Sleepwalking Through the Mekong” screens at the Red Vic Theater in San Francisco, Wednesday – Saturday, August 27 – 30.
“Sleepwalking Through the Mekong” DVD/CD sound track now available for purchase. Click the link below for the Official Dengue Fever Store.