Friday, August 22, 2014

Unknown Cambodian Singers | Angkor Wat #21



Listen to the haunting second track

Grab the whole album HERE


Last April I flew out to Seattle for a few days to give a talk at the Experience Music Project's 2014 Annual Conference on Rebecca Pan, the migration of Chinese-language pop from Shanghai to Hong Kong, and the emergence of the Special Administrative Region's indie music scene in the early to mid aughts.

My third day in the city I took the light rail from where I was holed up downtown to the Othello stop in Rainer Valley, home to the area's most culturally and economically diverse population. On my way in from the airport I had seen a largish Lao grocery store, which subsequent Yelping revealed to be the most likely place in the city to find international music on CD. 

Even before I found the Lao store--which required a 15-20 minute walk back up north from the station--I stumbled onto the Phnom Penh Market (7123 Martin Luther King Jr Way) just a few short steps up MLK from the station.

I walked in. I approached the counter. I smiled at the three women, from what seemed like as many generations, futzing around, reordering things. I noticed a couple of tallish stacks of CDs near the register. I feigned an interest some immeasurable sum milder than the actual interest I was feeling and which was causing my body to intensely vibrate from within.

"Are those C-C-Cambodian CDs?" I asked. 


"Not CDs," Generation One snapped. "Those are VCDs." 

I played dumb. "Could I maybe see a couple? I'm a, uh--" and here my voice trailed off, as I realized just how little she probably cared what I was, other than some dopey-looking white guy who clearly wanted something from her. To my happy surprise, she brought over a few to let me have a look.

She was right. Sort of. All but one of the grime-encrusted jewel-encased discs of polycarbonate plastic said "VCD" rather prominently on their covers. I lifted the one that didn't, and pointed at it, my finger clearly trembling.

"Do you have any more like this?" I ventured, "any, uh, CDs?"

"CDs? Not VCDs?" the kinder, gentler Generation Two asked.


"Yeah. CDs."

She dug around. And found one. And then another. And then another. Generation Three offered her help. Together, they found 10. And then 11. And then 12, 13, 14, 15. By the time they were done, there were 20 Khmer / Cambodian CDs, most from the 1990s, stacked up on the counter before me. I tried to hide my excitement. 

"I'LL TAKE THEM ALL," I heard myself blurting out. 

This is one of them. 

You can hear cuts from the rest of the haul here.

1 comment:

Hyde said...

thanks, man. this looks choice.