Sometimes music stays out there, patiently waiting for you to find it and listen. Around 2010, I bought "Dengue Fever Presents Electric Cambodia" and began learning the saga of Cambodian rock music, from the Sixties until the Khmer Rouge came perilously close to succeeding in erasing this and other manifestations of human culture in that unfortunate country. Only now am I catching up to the band Dengue Fever itself, which has done so much to tell these stories. The documentary is a fine, if belated introduction to the group.
They’ve Got Those Mekong Blues Again, by RJ Smith (New York Times; 2008)
DENGUE FEVER is a Los Angeles band featuring a Cambodian-born singer and five American alt-rockers who regularly embarrass her onstage. On the cover of its new album, “Venus on Earth” (M80), the guitarist Zac Holtzman, with a long beard and goggles, drives a scooter with the vocalist Chhom Nimol sitting demurely behind him sidesaddle, the way a good Cambodian girl would ride through the streets of Phnom Penh. Dengue Fever, which specializes in an unlikely mix of 1960s Cambodian pop, rock and other genres, is a lot like that image. Propriety and smart aleck indie rock race by, blurring together.