Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Khmer rock

I was browsing through the BBC website and came across this article on Khmer rock by Sarah Cuddon. Its this strange sort of fusion between garage rock and traditional cambodian vocals.

I thought the article was interesting but the radio documentary is more informational and exciting.

After looking into it a little further I came across this singer called Ros Serey Sothear. She sang a variety of genres but romantic ballads were her most successful works. In her rather short career she managed to produce hundreds of songs and even star in a few movies!The style of music early in her career is characterized by traditional Cambodian ballads and duets. She would eventually shift to a more comtemporary style by combining romantic ballads drenched in loss, betrayal, and death with Western instruments. This change of style is most likely be attributed to her traumatic marriage with fellow singer, Sos Mat.

By the 1970s, Sothear began experimenting in other genres. Her piercing and rather haunting voice, coupled with the rock backing bands featuring prominent, distortion-laden lead guitars, pumping organ and loud, driving drums, made for an intense, sometimes weird sound that we could call garage rock or psychedelic. Sometimes she would take popular western tunes and fashion her own khmer lyrics.

Her career would continue until the Khmer rouge captured the capital, Phnom Penh in April 1975. Pol Pot flattened anything of 'foreign influence'. Almost all musicians were sent to the killing fields to die or went to hard labour camps where nearly everyone died. Sothear's death is a mystery but no one doubts that she was killed during this time.

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