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Cambodian Cassette Archives: Khmer Folk and Pop Music Vol. 1

Wednesday, Aug 18 2004
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When searching for buried treasure, sometimes you really have to dig. Over the past five years, Oakland resident Mark Gergis -- a member of Mono Pause, as well as Neung Phak, the Bay Area's own Southeast Asian cover band -- gleaned this 20-track comp from more than 150 Cambodian music cassettes courtesy of the Oakland Public Library. The end result of Gergis' guerrilla ethnomusicological excavation is a fascinating glimpse at Cambodian pop's gamut, from traditionally rooted ballads and catchy high-pitched female choruses to new-wavish synth-laden numbers and '60s/'70s garage psychedelia. Incongruent oddities -- a Queen-like guitar solo here, an off-key keyboard there -- and bizarre, reverb-laden production serve only to make delving into Cambodian Cassette Archives that much more fun.

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Mike Rowell

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