Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Swimming with Cambodia

If you want to do a good deed today helping a wonderful culture and people while also enjoying the ghosts of great music past, consider buying Electric Cambodia, a selection of 60s and 70s Cambodian rock compiled by the great Cambodian-American band, Dengue Fever. Aquarium Drunkard has a sampling here - Pan Ron's stunning "I Will Marry You."

The vast crimes against humanity by the Khmer Rouge included the torture and murder of a generation of talented and spirited musicians. Ros Sereysothea (left), Sinn Sisamouth, Pan Rong, Yol Aularong, and many others left behind a golden age of Southeast Asian music, abruptly ended by the Pol Pot regime in 1975. Sinn was dead that year, Ros by 1977, and Pan Ron disappeared sometime during the period.

Proceeds from sales of the record go to the Cambodia Living Arts program supporting traditional Cambodian music. Their goal:

"We envision Cambodia in the year 2020 as a country experiencing a cultural renaissance so dynamic that the arts have become Cambodia’s international signature...

CLA’s four core programs—teaching, performing, recording, and new commissions—support 16 master musicians and nearly 300 students and assistant teachers to develop skills and relationships that will enable them to generate income and develop as leaders, while also helping to preserve and celebrate their heritage.

CLA works with the belief that supporting arts education is a way for people to grow and develop and heal from the traumas and hardships of both the past and the present, not only because knowing the traditional arts keeps younger generations connected to their heritage and the elders in their community, but because through the mentoring and guidance process, the students and masters build their confidence, are able to exercise leadership skills, and nurture hopes for the future."

It's a great cause in a troubled world. In return you get a collection of stunning rarities by Sereysothea, Sisamouth, Pan Ron, and Dara Chom Chan.

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