In these times of hyper-abundance, info-gluttony, mass cultural appropriation and outright legacy larceny spiritual salvation is at hand with these aural postcards from shores afar and times passed. If the past is a foreign country that country is Cambodia and they do things different there.
2003’s self-titled debut consists of seven ‘reconstructions’ of esteemed protest-totem Ros Serey Sothea’s oeuvre (who disappeared under Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge regime), possessor of spectral sonic-tonics including the ever-effervescent ‘I’m Sixteen’, the sucker-punching ‘Pow Pow’ and the kaleidoscopic rush of ‘New Year’s Eve’, comprising a veritable 60s inflected spree-for-all.
DF’s own ‘ghost voice’ Chhom Nimol affectingly (re)captures Serey Sothea’s enrapturing essence with the band’s own ’22 Nights’ a soaring, swooning highlight: ethereal and haunting. The eponymous ‘Dengue Fever’ itself is a saxy organ stirrer.
Follow up 2005’s Escape from Dragon House sees the group forge their own path with 14 of the tracks self-penned. Opener ‘We were gonna’ continues the mood and aesthetic with a spacier surround-sound. ‘Sui Bong’ is a disco-go-go-get her, a dancefloor trance-prance off. The gushing ‘Tap Water’ is crying out for a police procedural to soundtrack; oozing in mystery and know-it-all-knowing as guitar finger picking combined with horns and Joe Meek(ong) organomics reaches a beat-crescendo par excellence. Case closed.
The looming menace of the arachnid permeates ‘One thousand tears of a tarantula’; a web spinning wall of wail. Who knew spiders cried? ‘Lake Dolores’ is a delirious surfin’ safari in the vein of The Ventures.
Both reissues get the redux-deluxe treatment, bonus tracks, remixes, live renditions and liner notes: a completist’s dream.
Feed your fever with these timeless and exquisite Kampuchea-worms.