As the rainy season continues and we head into the post-summer holiday, pre-Pchum Ben session of the calendar, Cambodian music lovers will often be more concerned with the serious business of getting back to work (or back to school) and less mindful of enjoying themselves at gigs and parties. Well, there are always exceptions. Timothy, Ted and myself will still be out there, singing in the rain and boogying on down to the sounds of the many excellent performers around town this weekend. Check out the Leng Pleng Gig Guide below to keep abreast of what's happening. And don't forget to click on the Latest Album Download links at right-hand-side of page to hear some fantastic music of Cambodian origin. Now let us bring you news of some of the Kingdom's hottest original acts:
Cambodian Space Project are in the process of touring their latest Jim Diamond-produced album 'Electric Blue Boogaloo' around the world festival circuit. The thirteen-track opus was created in appropriately international style – recorded in France, Bali and Cambodia... mixed and mastered in Detroit. CSP will be performing in California at the Music Tastes Good Festival in late September. Check out the video below for a look at some of their live antics and their zaniest song yet: 'Rom Ding Dong'.
Phnom Skor recently posted the track 'Bek Sloy Blues' on Soundcloud. The band – in hiatus until guitarist RJ Marshall returns from overseas – recorded this meaty acoustic blues gem at the Cam Projects studio in Kandal Province. Dynamic singer Vanntin 'Tin' Hoeurn is not one to let the grass grow under his feet – he is working on the return of hardcore Cambodian band Sliten6ix, as well as a new 'surf-doom-garage-band' project with Conrad Keely and Clayton England.
Phnom Penh-based Krom have recently released a lush video to accompany their self-professed love song to Cambodia. The grammy award nominated band are famously 'elusive, exclusive and reclusive' but we will bring you news of any upcoming live shows as we receive it.
It has been three years since the Leng Pleng team embarked on a special mission to Mondulkiri to locate the virtuoso musician Nyel Che. After much searching, asking around and many cases of mistaken identity, we did eventually meet the wonderful Nyel, along with his fellow musicians, family members and Bunong tribespeople – including a incredibly strong and charismatic nonagenarian man named Gnel Cla. Television Ted and myself will never forget the experience of lying on the Sen Monorom grass listening to the wonderful, unique music emanating from Nyel's soulful voice and the ingeniously-designed instruments that he played. In the hands of someone less skilled, it would be hard to even recognise this construction of wooden planks, tin cans and steel wire as a musical instrument. In the hands of Nyel, the zither-like contraption brought forth cascading, rapid lines of high-pitched notes to accompany his singing. Ted and I were extremely excited when Nyel and his group accepted our invitation to perform that week at the Leng Pleng Mix live concert in Phnom Penh. At that show, and during an opening slot for the Cambodian Space Project at the FCC, many Phnom Penh gig-goers enjoyed the chance to hear the music of Nyel and the Bunong Tribespeople for the first time.
|The Bunong musicians performed at the
Leng Pleng Mix in 2013. |
Gnel Cla is seated second from left, Nyel Che is seated fourth from left.
Pic: Jeremie Montessuis
A year later, we were shocked and saddened to hear that Nyel Che, unique exponent of Bunong folk song, had passed away.
Archivist Julien Hairon set up a bandcamp page to distribute some lo-fi field recordings that Nyel Che left behind. The recordings were transferred to Julien with the message 'share this music with the whole world'. Click the link at right-hand side of page to discover the amazing sounds of Nyel Che and the Bunong tribespeople.
The singular creative melting pot that is the Cambodian music scene continues to produce original music of the most intriguing and exciting quality. In last week's wrap, we talked to French hip-hop MC 12Mé about his upcoming album – to be released later this year – which looks set to become one of the most important and innovative Cambodian musical happenings of recent times. The Kampot Playboys have also been working on their debut album, with some songs having already been recorded and some tentative production work carried out by Conrad Keely – we are very excited to hear the results!
Check out the video above for a glimpse of a new independent Cambodian movie called Mind Cage. The soundtrack will be a truly awesome work of Cambodian music in its own right – with contributions from Kingdom of Wonder-based musicians Miss Sarawan Band, Krom Monster and Tara Mar. This short movie excerpt is accompanied by the track 'Dance to Forget' by Miss Sarawan Band.
Whatever you're up to over the next few days, stay safe out there and... see you around the traps!