Grammy-winning producer Ian Brennan (Zomba Prison Project, Tinariwen, Hanoi Masters) returns to Southeast Asia to record traditional-based musicians from Cambodia who survived the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime. The result is both heartbreaking and inspiring.
It would be disturbing anywhere to see a mob gathered around a street-pole as an electrocuted utility-worker’s lifeless body was lowered down by rope as if lynched, but especially in a land with so many ghosts.
Amidst skin-whitening overdoses and marijuana-pizza for the sex tourists, the stench of colonialism does more than just linger in Phnom Penh. “We hate the Vietnamese,” said the taxi-driver as a stark naked child ran into the street to urinate, “But our people are tired of war. We are tired of fighting.”
A reported three-million tons of carpet-bombs were dropped on Cambodia by the USA in the 1970s, more than were unleashed on Germany during all of WWII. And still today, Cambodia is laced with more landmines than anywhere else in the world, which results in two or three deaths on average daily, mostly to “peasants” in the field.
Following the bombings, dictator Pol Pot seized the moment, emptying the cities into shells, then pitting rural residents against the urbanites and launching a genocide that claimed somewhere around two-million lives (i.e., nearly 1/4th of the population). This particular holocaust was especially catastrophic culturally as it specifically targeted the artists and “intellectuals”, of whom it is estimated that less than 10% survived. During this period, daring to wear eyeglasses— which had become a stereotyped symbol between classes— guaranteed almost certain death.
Singer Thorn Seyma, had discovered by chance just days before our arrival that her father, Thom Mouy, had apparently been quite a famous singer in the Sixties before perishing himsel....... więcej