March 29, 2010

Welcome Back, Golden Voices (Repost)

The Khmer Rouge was the name given to the followers of the Communist Party of Kampuchea, the totalitarian ruling party in Cambodia from 1975 to 1979, led by Pol Pot. This organization is remembered primarily for its policy of social engineering and the genocide this caused. Its attempts at agricultural reform led to widespread famine, while its insistence on absolute self-sufficiency, even in the supply of medicine, led to the deaths of thousands from treatable diseases (such as malaria). Brutal and arbitrary executions and torture carried out by its cadres against perceived subversive elements, or during purges of its own ranks between 1976 and 1978, are considered to have constituted a genocide.

The Khmer Rouge government arrested, tortured and eventually executed anyone suspected of belonging to several categories of supposed "enemies":
  • Anyone with connections to the former government or with foreign governments.
  • Professionals and intellectuals—in practice this included almost everyone with an education, or even people wearing glasses (which, according to the regime, meant that they were literate).
  • Ethnic Vietnamese, ethnic Chinese, ethnic Thai and other minorities in Eastern Highland, Cambodian Christians , Muslims and the Buddhist monks.
  • "Economic saboteurs:" many of the former urban dwellers (who had not starved to death in the first place) were deemed to be guilty by virtue of their lack of agricultural ability.
In those times, singers like Sinn Sisamouth, Ros Sereysothea and Pan Ron (members of the "Golden Voices") were part of a thriving pop music scene in Phnom Penh that blended elements of Khmer traditional music with the sounds of rhythm and blues and rock and roll to make a Westernized sound akin to psychedelic or garage rock; unfortunately, as 4.8 million khmer citizens, all they died by execution, leaving a mute gap into the khmer musical scene.
Dengue Fever is a six-member band from Los Angeles who combine Cambodian pop music and lyrics with psychedelic rock; Many of the songs are covers of 1960s Cambodian rock tunes by artists of the Golden Voices; in 2005, the band toured in Cambodia, to critical acclaim. The film Sleepwalking Through the Mekong documents the band's touring in Phnom Penh and other major cities.
Enjoy the soundtrack of the film, the golden voices are here again.


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