- Cambodian Cassette Archives: Khmer Folk 1 / Var
- Artist: Various Artists
- Format: LP
- Release Date: 4/16/2016
LP edition; originally released on CD in 2004 and long out of print. Limited edition of 2000. Two LPs with bonus tracks in full-color gatefold sleeve with extensive liner notes and vital new track and title information. Restored and remastered audio. Lovingly assembled and notated by Mark Gergis. Primarily drawn from over 150 aging and often unmarked cassettes found at the Asian Branch of the Oakland Public Library in California during the late 1990s, Cambodian Cassette Archives showcases an unbelievable collection of dynamic music recorded between the 1960s and the 1990s, both in Cambodia and abroad. Male and female vocalists share the spotlight in a Khmer blend of folk and pop stylings, with cha-cha psychedelia, phase-shifting rock, sultry circle dance standards, pulsing new wave, haunted ballads, musical comedy sketches, easy-listening numbers, and raw instrumental grooves presented in an eclectic variety of production techniques. Heard throughout are legends of Cambodia's golden age during the 1960s-1970s, including Sinn Sisamouth, Ros Sereysothea, Pen Ran, and Chhoun Vanna, among others. With their fantastic ensembles, they helped rewrite Khmer musical history, often weaving traditional melodies into the various dance crazes and rock and roll sounds infiltrating Southeast Asia at the time. Then, between 1975-1979, the Khmer Rouge tragically seized and devastated the country, killing millions and nearly erasing the culture. This collection also focuses on what came next -- the lesser-heard music of the Cambodian diaspora, recorded in the 1980s and 1990s. Beginning inside Thai refugee camps, singers such as Kieng Yuthhan were among the first to record what can be called a post-war Khmer music. Songs ranged from renditions of revered Khmer songs from the golden era to original music that borrowed from both traditional and Western styles. Some flirted with contemporary disco or new wave influences, while others pursued more traditional ballads or more traditional romvong-style dance music. Groups were mainly composed of guitars, drums, keyboard, vocals, and occasionally fiddle or xylophone. Some enjoyed brief popularity on the local Cambodian music circuit at the time, while others remained regional obscurities. The majority of this music was never reissued digitally, and therefore lived and died on cassette. Includes performances by Kieng Yuthhan, Darkie, Klan Han, Meas Samon, Sinn Sisamouth, Son Thoeung, Eueng Nary, Pen Ran, Wat Phnom Orchestra, Golden Dragon Band, Prum Manh, Ros Sereysothea, Dara Chomchan, and Chhoun Vanna, as well as several tracks by unknown performers.