I am not one to find amazing new music, but every once in a while I come across a gem like this. I heard about this band while listening to National Public Radio (NPR) on my way home from work. Dengue Fever was started by two brother musicians from California. The lead singer, Chhom Nimol, is from Cambodia and met the two brothers after she had recently moved to L.A. Their new album, Venus on Earth, is comprised of all new songs inspired by Cambodian pop music and does include songs in English. I know I have an older album, but to be quite honest, I don’t know what album I have. Evan downloaded some songs for me and burned them to a CD. Since the lyrics are not in English, it is impossible for me to tell what songs they are and figure out what album they are from.
Dengue Fever’s sound is a tribute to Cambodian pop music that was popularized after American music was broadcast in the East during the Vietnam War. The outcome was a mixture of psychedelic rock and Cambodian folk music that was popular in the late sixties and early seventies. During the NPR interview they described how this music was literally killed off when the dictator, Pol Pot, came to rule in Cambodia. His regime literally executed the musicians who were part of this music movement in addition to others that were deemed to have influence from the West. I am not familiar with Cambodian history and did not know anything about Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge who took over the country in 1975. I, of course, had to get online and start researching to learn more about the inspiration that this California based rock band used to recreate this sound. The story of this music and this band is so intriguing. It’s amazing to me how much I do not know about world history. This was only 30 years ago. How do I not know this?
I think it is just so great when art inspires people to learn about the world. I am amazed how musicians and artists can adapt something so unfamiliar and bring it to a new place and it becomes new again. Thank you Dengue Fever!