In the lead up to the upcoming Astronomy Class release Mekong Delta Sunrise. The crew consisting of Ozi Batla, Sir Robbo and Chasm have just released a mixtape featuring music sampled from a recent trip to Cambodia. You can grab the Bong Man Business mixtape as a free download now.
Read on as Astronomy Class discuss in further depth this interesting new release. “These are some of our favourite tunes from the “golden age” of Khmer pop music, a style that meshed the sounds of traditional Cambodian music with soul and rhythm and blues, cha cha, beat music, mambo, jazz, psychedelic and garage rock and many other styles. From the 1950s to the mid 70s, Cambodia’s national radio popularised the dynamic and inventive music scene in Phnom Penh, at a time when the vibrant capital was known as “The Pearl of Asia”. These songs were the soundtrack to those heady days.
In early 2012 we were invited to Phnom Penh by Klap Ya Handz, Cambodia’s number one hip hop crew, to perform a version of 70s classic “Do You No Wrong Again”, in collaboration with Khmer star Preap Sovath. We were already aware of some of the classic songs from the era, but during a six hour taxi ride up Highway 6 from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap, our minds were blown by the songs drifting from our driver’s cassette player. He played tape after tape of some of the most captivatingly beautiful and soulful, yet funky and raw music we’d ever heard. We were instantly hooked.
A plan was hatched, and when we returned home we decided to dig a little deeper for these sounds, heading to Cabramatta in Western Sydney to two Cambodian DVD stores we’d located. We learned that most of the songs had been kept alive, at first on cassette, and later CD and mp3, as the brutal efficiency of the Khmer Rouge’s cultural genocide saw almost all of the original vinyl destroyed.
Those who fled Cambodia often did so with their prized music collections, and those who stayed and managed to hide their collections did so at great risk. The store owner told us a story about a collector literally digging 200 records from out of the ground. It was these proud people who kept Cambodia’s musical golden era alive, and it was music from these private, much loved collections that formed the musical basis for our new album, and this selection.
We’ve included a couple of source tunes here from our upcoming album, Mekong Delta Sunrise, featuring Srey Channthy from The Cambodian Space Project. Channthy is a leading voice in the Khmer music revival movement. The daughter of a singer, who grew up listening along to the golden age songs, and later went on to study under the few remaining singer/songwriters of the pre-Khmer Rouge era. She brought us closer to the music, and is a crucial member of Astronomy Class on our next release.
We’re excited by what we’ve created, and we look forward to sharing it with you.
There’s so much we could include here, but we hope that this selection encourages you to seek out more from Khmer music’s golden age. We offer our sincerest respect and gratitude to the families of the greats of the age, including Pan Ron, Sinn Sisamouth, Ros Sereysothea, Thra Kha Band, Yol Aularong, and Pov Vannary.
Enjoy the mix!” – Astronomy Class (Ozi Batla/ Sir Robbo/ Chasm)
Track listing: Bong Man Business
1. Ros Sereysothea – Old Sour And Sweet
2. Pan Ron – Snaeha
3. Sinn Sisamouth – Chorm Ork Chorm Orn
4. Sinn Sisamouth – Khemarak Akas Yean
5. Pov Vannary – Huoh Hauy Bong
6. Thra Kha Band – Do You No Wrong Again
7. Pan Ron and In Yeng – Srolanh Oun Jea Nich
8. Im Song Seum & Ros Sereysothea – Don’t Love Don’t Cry
9. Sinn Sisamouth – I’m Still Waiting For You
10. Ros Sereysothea – I’m Sixteen
11. Yol Aularong – Yuvajon Kouge Jet
12. Pan Ron – Heart In Despair
13. Ros Sereysothea – Brokenhearted Woman
14. Sinn Sisamouth – Bopha Reek Sroh
15. Sinn Sisamouth – I’m All Skinny
16. Ros Sereysothea – Lost Love
17. Ros Sereysothea – Rompung Rompung