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Featured Playlist: Khmer Music ~ Past and Present

{Images of record covers from 1960s Cambodia pop music that later inspires current group Dengue Fever who covered many songs of this era in their first 2 albums}

Khmer Music ~ Past and Present Playlist
Start the featured playlist in the sidebar to listen to tracks below. { You can now access the Khmer playlist here.}

Angkor Period beginning around the 12th century ~ Classical Khmer music

1. Tep Monorom Dance by National Dance Company of Cambodia

This track is from the repetoire of the pinpeat orchestra, consisting of xylophones, gongs, drums, occasional vocals, and an oboe as the orchestra's leader. This track has a lot of both beauty and energy. After the singers have finished their solos in the front-middle or the piece, the orchestra takes off with a very large oboe solo with very exotic drum patterns in the background. http://astore.amazon.com/oneworldnet05-20/detail/B000000HOE

2. Khaek Mon by Mahori Music

Classical Khmer music is often divided into three categories: pin peat, the ceremonial music of the former royal courts; phleng kar, the songs of the wedding ceremony; and mahori, secular entertainment music, also originating in the royal courts, that is played by a string-based ensemble. The music here comes from a cassette originally produced by the Sayonara Music company in the 1980s, and has been dropped from their catalog. As of March 2003, their web site has also been dropped. The performance is from the early 1970s, and features an electric bass and a great deal of reverb. http://www.asianclassicalmp3.org/mahori.htm

1960s ~ Western influenced psychedelic rock, R&B, pre-punk, surf mix ~ until 1975 when Khmer Rouge killed many creative people including musicians

3. Track 8 by Cambodian Rocks

There are no band or song names much less any discographical information on the CD. Compiler Paul Wheeler’s initials are also the initials of the label Parallel World. The story goes that Wheeler was on his way to the ancient Cambodian ruins of Angkor when he noticed the bus driver incessantly playing a cassette of this music. Intrigued, Wheeler was later able to hum one of the tunes at a cassette stall and purchased a handful of cassettes. Cambodian friends told him it was a style known as circle dance music. Cambodian Rocks is drawn from these cassettes. http://wlt4.home.mindspring.com/adventures/reviews/cambodian.htm

Related link: http://www.myspace.com/cambodianrock

4. I'm So Shy by Ros Sereysothea

Known as the "Golden Voice of the Royal Capital" and even described as the greatest Cambodian female singer that ever lived, Ros Sereysothea was the voice that captivated the King, the Khmer people, and music lovers from all over the world. She covers many of the songs from the 1960s and has a few tracks on the Cambodian Rocks compilation as well. She was one of the musicians who died during the Khmer Rouge reign. Dengue Fever covers many of her songs.

Sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ros_Sereysothea

5. Somraich York oun Chea Ku by Nipon douy Trorkhmer, Sing by SweetKhmerGuy

Further information on song and artist unknown. Contact me or comment if you can share any information.

Current Khmer music influenced by rap and pop music

6. True Distance Lovers by Khmer KID

I don't normally listen to rap and definitely not Khmer rap so I found the rhymes kinda fun because I could understand the Khmer lyrics.

Related links: http://www.myspace.com/ogkhmerkid

7. First Love (Khmer) by Unknown

Further information on song and artist unknown. Contact me or comment if you can share any information. I found one comment on youtube that maybe suggests the singer may be Thai.

8. If I Had One Wish by Azn Rap - Khmer Boyz

Further information on song and artist unknown. Are they associated with the Khmer Kid? Contact me or comment if you can share any information.

Related link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7eQfo6Jafx4

Current Khmer music that takes us back to the past

9. One Thousand Tears of a Tarantula by Dengue Fever

The origin of Dengue Fever began when Californian musician Ethan Holtzman took a trip to Cambodia with a friend. While the friend was sick with dengue fever, they hitched a ride on the back of a truck. The truck driver played a tape of Ros Sereysothea's 'New Year's Eve,' and Ethan was "knocked sideways". He returned to California and soon started a band with his brother and searched for a Khmer singer. They found Ch'hom Nimol, a Cambodian female singer born from a line of famous singers. Dengue Fever was formed in 2001.

They are also the subject of a documentary about their recent trip to Cambodia to perform and explore the country they so admire. See http://www.sleepwalkingthroughthemekong.com/. Some screenings may be in your area. They are also on tour and the closest to Memphis is in New Orleans and Lafayette.

This track is from the 2005 album Escape from Dragon House.

Related links:

10. Monsoon of Perfume by Dengue Fever

This track is from the 2008 album Venus on Earth with all original songs from the band.

11. Sleepwalking through the Mekong by Dengue Fever

This track is from the 2005 album Escape from Dragon House.

Loving what you hear and want it now? I loved them so much I added 3 of my favorite Dengue Fever tracks to the playlist. In Memphis, you can buy Dengue Fever at Goner Records, Cooper Young.


Other Cambodian musicians to check out since I couldn't find a track to place on this playlist

Jimi Lundy website MySpace
praCh {rap} MySpace
Meas Soksophea {my cousin who lives in Cambodia loves her} MySpace

Resources for more Khmer music

Documentary on '60s and '70s rock by John Pirozzi who is currently editing this film for release. http://www.cambodianrock.com/


  1. Dengue Fever ROCKS! What great music. don't understand a word an yet it still connects w/ me. haunting stuff. what a great tribute to Ros Sereysothea, and what a shame she was lost in the khmer rouge reign. want to hear more of her stuff as well. this is coming from an A.M. radio person... i don't usually listen to music.

  2. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=loZZLWlYSkI
    song name: sni bong

    song name: Ethanopium

    ethanopium is AUsome!

    chreck out these yuotube videos. good stuff.

  3. Rocking blog .. i like it thanx..for shraing...

    Pashto Music


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