You have been here: the beach-side, in the evening? The lights and music at the edge of humanity. Mediocre music heard filtering out of distant doors, the words garbled. Contemplating a long night, to come or perhaps already passed. Attention at the edge of engagement. Confusion: should you go in or not?
You have surely wanted to be here: a foreign land, the beach-side, in the night? A grimy place, humid.. warm.. comfortable.. cheap. Bad beer, perhaps, but plentiful. The lyric of sex hovering around you all evening. The poorly tuned band, and the woman singing in a strange tongue, too fast for you to follow the sounds, but too slow to be exciting. Confusion: should you tune her out or not? Nothing else to do, but no energy to do anything else, either.
This is the delirium of Dengue Fever. The dreamland of Cambodia, captured in the white man’s gaze in City of Ghosts, and brought to life by the wonderfully anachronistic music of Ethan & Zac Holtzmann and Chhom Nimol. Like Arcade Fire, but twisted in the direction of some rather obscure (to Western ears) pop music, from 60′s Cambodia – how did they even discover this stuff in LA? – Dengue Fever is equal parts throwback and re-invention. It’s definitely an unusual sound to create: the screechy guitars reminiscent of bad tapes & tape players, a harsh, flattened bass (courtesy of tinny amplifiers) and Nimol’s high-pitched vocals all conspire to produce a slightly sad, jangling effect (despite the irony of doing all this on modern sound systems).
The mood is one of loss, kitschy love, lust, and plain heat, but in a nice South-East Asian sort of way (with song titles like Ethanopium, Flowers, I’m Sixteen, Monsoon of Perfume, 22 Nights, We Were Gonna). In one of their rare English-language songs Tiger Phone Card, they declaim:
“You live in Phnom Penh (Zac)
You live in New York City (Chhom)
But I think about you so so so so (together)
So much I forget to eat
If you’re a guy with an Asian chick fetish, grab your feni and listen up.
|Hold My Hips from the album Dengue Fever by Dengue Fever
More Dengue Fever at Last.fm
~posted by arvind