Cambodian Space Project – 2011: A Space Odyssey (Metal Postcard)

January 01, 1970

(Metal
Postcard)

 

www.metalpostcard.com

 

Looking
for something different and yet familiar, adventurous listener? Sit back, dig
The Cambodian Space Project, and be prepared to be impressed. Very impressed.

 

2011: A
Space Odyssey
is the debut CD by The Cambodian Space
Project, already quite a big deal in their home country of Cambodia, now
taking it around the world. According to the p.r. they are the King of
Cambodia’s favorite band and played for Hillary Clinton on one of her trips to
their home city of Phnom Penh;
make of that what you will.

 

Founded
in 2009 by the Australian guitar and keyboard player Julien Poulson (he also
produced the record), fronted by the fabulously gifted vocalist Srey Thy, and
composed of Cambodian, Australian and French musicians, The Cambodian Space
Project weave a lot of disparate elements into a hugely impressive whole on
their debut CD. The nine tracks combine a couple of originals with several
tracks from Cambodia’s
“golden age” of pop music (the 1960s into the early 70s) that were originally
recorded by pop stars like Pan Ron, Sinn Sisamouth and Ros Sereysothea. The new
versions both pay tribute to and update the classics: this is, most definitely,
a modern rock band, with a big, fat drum sound, charging guitars and terrific
mixes on the vocals; some of it sounds like what The Godfathers might sound
like it they had come from Phnom Penh instead of
London.

 

The
difference of course, is in the traditional elements. Music of SE Asia,
especially Thailand, Cambodia and Laos, has generally been characterized by
droning, repetitive traditional instruments and keening vocals, and Cambodian
Space Project wisely plays them up without overplaying them. The traditional
Trou ou combines with a droning accordion and some imaginative use of a
harmonica and keyboards to give the band a fantastically rich, complex overlay
over all of the considerable rocking out going on underneath. But Srey Thy is
the absolute capper: her vocals – confident, penetrating, deeply expressive,
full of humor and feeling – are what propel Cambodian Space Project fully into
the sublime. Seriously: show me a better vocal performance all year, and
well…then we’ll both know, but until then the prize goes to Srey Thy. This is
perhaps most evident on the last track “Kolos Srey Chaom” (“Love God”) which
marries the words from a Ros Sereysoteha song to a letter perfect version of
Shocking Blue’s classic “I’m Your Venus.” If there was a universal jukebox for
2011 this number would be in the Top Ten. Seriously, it’s so great that I’m
just going to shut up about it.

 

DOWNLOAD: “Chnam Oun Dop Pram Mouy,” “Kolos Srey Chaom,” “Snaeha Doc
Toek Kmom,” “Rom Chong Vat A Go Go” CARL HANNI

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