Various Artists

Cambodian Rocks Vol. 2

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Like volume one of Khmer Rocks' Cambodian Rocks series, this assembles 17 Cambodian pop/rock tracks from approximately the mid-'60s to the early '70s, exact details being scant as the Khmer Rouge wiped out this kind of entertainment (along with much else in Cambodia) shortly afterward. While it's quite similar to the first volume in its unusual combinations of Western psychedelia, garage rock, soul, and bubblegum with more Cambodian forms of pop, melody, and vocal delivery, it's by no means redundant. The quality of the material's just as consistent (if just as lo-fi in both recording quality and the grade of instruments used), and most every track is an adventure into what most rock listeners will find odd and occasionally thrilling sonic territory, even if it no doubt sounded far more normal to Cambodian listeners of the era. There are adaptations of English-language smashes like "Hey Jude," "Wooly Bully," "Never My Love," "A Whiter Shade of Pale," and "San Francisco," but it's the more numerous, unfamiliar tunes that stand out more, particularly for their emotionally melodramatic (and, when sung by women, very high-pitched) vocals; mega-tinny organ sounds and crude, almost homemade-seeming psychedelic effects; feverish rock guitar, played with as much dash and energy as many an American or British psych-rock act; and some quite catchy pop melodies, some of which are almost sinister in nature (as a spin of Ros Sereysothea's "If You Wish to Love Me" demonstrates). Pan Ron's "Hippie Men" almost blends ska and African pop brass together, and many of the tunes are eerie in a way that Western bands might have been hard-pressed to duplicate, even though these tracks no doubt partially came about from Cambodian musicians trying to replicate overseas rock trends. As with volume one of this series, there's little in the way of liner notes, but English translations of the lyrics are provided.

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