Cambodian Soul Sounds

Cambodian Soul Sounds: tracks, stories, and compilations highlighting Cambodian psychedelic rock & soul from the ’50s to the ’70s.

cambodian soul sounds

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Cambodian Soul Sounds is a Stockholm, Sweden-based label that shares compilations highlighting songs and stories from Cambodia’s thriving psychedelic rock and soul scene from the ’50s to the ’70s. The compilations, curated by Richard Rossa, raises funds to support organizations that are trying to preserve and rebuild Cambodia’s cultural life. My personal favorite is Vol. II, which includes what might be my favorite cover of The Beatles’ “Hey Jude.”

From Richard Rossa via Facebook:

“The music scene in Cambodia during the 50s to the mid-70s was swinging hard! Khmer musicians of the era were influenced by western rhythm & blues, rock n’ roll, and music from Latin America. Musicians like Sinn Sisamouth studied these musical styles when traveling abroad, many Cambodians also tuned in these songs on US Armed Forces Radio during the Vietnam War and got influenced by the western sound.

The combination of styles and culture created a truly unique touch to the vivid rock music of Cambodia.

But…It all ended on April 17, 1975, the day the Khmer Rouge took over Phnom Penh. With many others – the artists were executed or sent away to prison camps to die. Cambodia fell into darkness.

During these years pretty much every original recording and master tape were destroyed. Listening to this music would have got you killed. But thanks to vinyl collectors who risked their lives concealing or smuggle their records out of the country there is still a bunch of them out there ready to be restored and archived for future generations to enjoy.

Cambodian Soul Sounds vol 1 is a compilation of old songs I managed to pick up myself when traveling in Cambodia. Even if the recordings presents a charming distorted sound, songs were also really low, but with a lot of high frequencies cutting through, making it somehow unpleasant at loud volumes. As a DJ and producer, I took matters into my own hands and reworked the recordings to give them a warmer and more suitable sound for your earphones or the DJ to blast at maximum volume at the local psychedelic soul party. Just as I do.

I am doing this because I know this music deserves a place in the context I am working in – as a Dj. It will help to find new listeners, promote and raise awareness of Cambodia as a whole. However, with its tragic history, this legacy needs to be treated with respect. I am doing this work to raise funds for project in Cambodia such as the work for music preservation and also to help disadvantaged children. The project is 100% non-profitable and every revenue from these track sales or streaming are going straight into these projects.

With this work, the lost musicians of Cambodia can continue to give aid back to their country long after they passed.”

Cambodian Soul Sounds: Facebook SoundCloud

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Damakase

Damakase: traditional Ethiopian themes meet West African grooves, banjo riffs, and funk.

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Almost one year old and Damakase‘s ‘Gunfan Yellem!’ still sounds just as fresh and exciting and manages to respect heritage without sounding stuck in the past. The foursome from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital, mixes traditional Ethiopian themes with West African grooves, banjo riffs, and funk.

From Bandcamp:

“Endris Hassen (The Ex, Ethiocolor, Imperial Tiger Orchestra, Nile Project, MistO-MistO etc) and Cory Seznec (Groanbox, Seznec Bros, solo, MistO-MistO, etc) joined forces in late 2014 to fuse sounds from east and west Africa. Hungry for a fuller sound, they brought in Misale Legesse (Ethiocolor, Addis Acoustic Project, etc) on kebero and Cass Horsfall on bass (Black Jesus Experience, Jazmaris, etc) to flesh things out and create Damakase, a name which comes from a plant used in traditional medicine in Ethiopia to heal “gunfan” (cold/flu) and other ailments.

By late 2015 they had enough songs for an album, and asked Kenny Allen to come in as producer.

Gunfan Yellem! (translated roughly as Fever No More!) is an album recorded live in Cory’s Glasshouse Studios. Guest artists were invited to add a little spice here and there, and Kenny fine tuned and tweaked the mix to perfection.

The music is comprised of 6 originals and two covers (Wuba by the Eritrean composer Tewelde Redda, and Mother’s Love by the Ethiopian pianist Emahoy Tsegue-Maryam Guebrou).”

Damakase: Facebook

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Trachimbrod

Trachimbrod: a new “indie” side to the Swedish-sung screamo.

Trachimbrod

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Glacial and glittering guitars, uniform and decisive rhythmic patterns, desperate shaking vocals on the verge of bursting. These are more or less the defining traits of screamo in Sweden, a country that is one of the most prolific when it comes to this niche genre. Bands like Suis La Lune, who have been pioneering this type of music in Stockholm for more than ten years, are known to every screamo fan in the world, but there are many Swedish bands that are quickly getting the international attention they deserve.

Trachimbrod is one of those bands. Their style is unmistakably close to the rest of their compatriots, but the quality of their music is outstanding. The band’s first album, ‘A Collection Of Hidden Sketches,’ came out in 2012 and was a real gem. Hoarse yet harmonious, with unforgettable guitar melodies emerging from a thick and icy sonic blanket, their songwriting felt unstudied and original, setting them apart from many similar bands in the world.

While their following split with Sore Eyelids showed worrisome chameleonic skills, resulting in them sounding way too similar to the dreamy shoegaze of their split partners, their 2017 comeback with ‘Leda’ is a breath of fresh air for Swedish and international screamo. It’s a soft-tempered record where atmospheric guitar arpeggios endlessly chase each other in a post-rock setting, reaching a climax only rarely and creating a dense emotional tension.

The singer – who also sings in the lively emo group I Love Your Lifestyle – switches his lyrics from English to Swedish this time, increasing the magic and the mystery of the band even more. Occasionally, he adds poignant clean parts that exalt the musical potential and versatility of the music, making ‘Leda’ a thorough record that will make it really easy to fall in love with this band.

Trachimbrod: Facebook Bandcamp

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Centavrvs

Centavrvs: “the (Mexican) salsa movement of the ’70s, but as if mixed in the future”.

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Mexico’s highly popular group Centavrvs mixes the past salsa sounds of the ’70s with modern rock and pop instrumentation.

From Beehype:

“[Centavrvs] explored the idea of combining traditional and modern local sounds. With the celebrations of the centenary of the Mexican Revolution as their pretext, Centavrvs started their own story with this mix of past, present and future…If you want to know how modern Mexican music sounds, Centavrvs is definitively the right choice.”

Centavrvs: Website Facebook Twitter SoundCloud

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Oiseaux-Tempête

Oiseaux-Tempête: for fans of Godspeed You! Black Emperor and uplifting dread

Oiseaux-Tempête

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You know that feeling when you listen to Godspeed You! Black Emperor and you sense that the world is about to fold onto you and crush you and everything you’ve ever known, but somehow this is OK and in tune with how the world should be? Parisian band Oiseaux-Tempête knows this feeling, and they add a Middle-Eastern flavor to their uplifting dread that takes its time with you. Stick around for all of ‘AL – ‘AN ! الآن (And your night is your shadow — a fairy – tale piece of land to make our dreams)’ and you won’t be disappointed.

From Bandcamp:

“These are some live epiphanies improvised between Middle-East and Europe during the year of chaos 2016…Field recordings shot in Lebanon between March and October 2016…Poems by Mahmoud Darwish extracts from ‘The Offering’ and ‘Red Indian’s Penultimate Speech to the White Man'”

Oiseaux-Tempête: website Bandcamp Facebook

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Moe Meguro

Moe Meguro: “Crosby, Stills & Nash meets Cap’n Jazz”

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I appreciate any Bandcamp bio that simply states “Crosby, Stills & Nash meets Cap’n Jazz,” yet Moe Meguro go the extra mile and actually pull off the description. The three band members are based around the world and each musician brings part of their home to the blend. My guess: Joseph “Jojo” Brandel, from Yokohama, Japan, brings the math-rock emo riffs; Bernie Gelman, from Austin, TX, brings the hazy drive; and Logan Bean, from California, brings the sunny pop harmonies. Extra points to the band for covering ‘Walls And Bridges’-era John Lennon with “#9 Dream.”

From the band:

“With band members scattered over six thousand miles apart across two continents and a name borrowed from the Japanese Olympic curling champion, Moe Meguro is a melting pot of disparate styles. The 3-piece band consisting of Joseph Brandel and Bernie Gelman on guitars and Logan Bean on drums (with all three members covering vocal duty) convenes once or twice a year to write, rehearse, and record music back on their home turf in the Bay Area, California. Over that short span of time, the band collaborates on crafting intricate, sonically lush music drawing from Beatles-tinged power pop laced with harmonies to hazy shoegaze and a bit of math rock.”

Moe Meguro: Bandcamp Facebook Twitter

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Boomarm Nation

Boomarm Nation: Portland label releases experimental global sound system music

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Boomarm Nation is a Portland, OR-based label that releases experimental sound system music from around the world on vinyl, cassette, and digital. A recent highlight for me is the fuzzy, furious remix of Mali tehardent musician Aghali Ag Amoumine off January’s ‘Family Album 2017’ compilation.

From Bandcamp:

“Blessings to all the people of the world. May we unite aside our differences and together find peace and strength amongst the tyrants. 2017 – We ready.”

Boomarm Nation: Website Bandcamp Facebook Twitter

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Pastacas

Pastacas: Estonian “Lo-fi Folk-(nohik-)punk-electronica”

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Ramo Teder is a 46-year-old dreamer and multi-instrumentalist from Viljandi, a small town in southern Estonia. He currently lives in Teijo, Finland, in the middle of a large national park filled with lakes, forests, and historical villages. Consequently, the presence of nature is felt so clearly in every song of his musical project Pastacas. This pastoral vibe, however, doesn’t reach the listener’s ears untouched: traditional music and nursery rhymes are decomposed and represented in a new and unexpected form.

The music of Pastacas feels like a complex and mystic journey into a place both familiar and unknown. The title of his last album, ‘Pohlad’, is Estonian for lingonberries. Each song is a short and immersive experience into old and fascinating Baltic tales. Guitars and mandolins are matched with old folk Estonian instruments such as the hiiu kannel, a particular four-stringed bowed lyre. Electronic beats and the repetition, inversion, and decomposition of both his instruments and his voice, though, push his music towards a surprising direction.

Teder himself defines his work as “Lo-fi Folk-(nohik-)punk-electronica”, where nohik means “nerd” in Estonian. It’s a playful definition because this sort of futuristic approach to pastoral and folk music is not easy to label. What’s sure is that experimental music is rarely as emotional and homely as it is here. The same emotion relives in the skinny and heartfelt characters he draws for the artworks of his albums, and in the contemplative live shows, where he recreates his music by playing and looping all of the instruments he uses on the records, bringing the audience to the cold yet inviting forests he calls home.

Pastacas: Facebook Bandcamp

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Sampieri & GMC

‘Sampieri & GMC’: blissed-out psychedelic free folk from Argentina

Sampieri & GMC

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I’ve recently discovered the wonderful Pakapi Records, an Argentina-based label that focuses on promoting South American artists. The standout for me so far is this 2015 collaboration between Sebastian Sampieri (Sampieri) and Guillermo M. Cerredo (GMC). ‘Sampieri & GMC,’ when you’re in the right mindset, is a blissed-out collage of psychedelic free folk.

From CassetteBlog.com:

“This new lysergic adventure is a blunt split plagued by experimental music, sampledelia, electronic and acoustic sounds, synthesizing a cross of folcklore, tribal mantras to pure electronic and a narcotic and descriptive shared collage.”

‘Sampieri & GMC’/Pakapi Records: Bandcamp Facebook

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Midnight Peacocks

Midnight Peacocks: Israeli stoner metal that embraces its Arabic roots

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I don’t often hear violins in stoner metal, so Midnight Peacocks quickly grabbed my attention from “Tzar Bomba” and kept it throughout their entire new LP, ‘Katastroffa,’ which is out now.

From Bandcamp bio:

“The Midnight Peacocks are:
Eitan Radoshinski: Vocals & bass
Guy Shemi: Guitar & Backing Vocals
Yoav Zohar: Drums
Yoni Silver: Violin, Alto Saxophone, Bass Clarinet, Keyboards & Piano
Hezi Shohet: Poetry”

Midnight Peacocks: Facebook

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