After winning independence from France in the late 1950’s, young musicians from Cambodia’s countryside swarmed to the city of Phnom Penh, eager to start bands and create a thriving western-influenced rock scene. This soundtrack is a snapshot of that fertile creative era. A stone soup that, much Like Cambodian food, is all about the wild contrasts: sweet, traditional Cambodian vocal melodies, thrashing garage guitars, psyche rock keyboards, beehive girl group pop, go-go grooves and a bewitching interpretation here and there (listen to Chhoun Malay’s “The Story of My Love” for a delightfully psychodelic take on Swan Lake).
Tragically, many of these musicians, and the recordings themselves did not survive the Cambodian genocide.
In a way, I hate to even bring up the evil regime that killed these musicians, as the subculture they inhabited generated so much unity and enthusiasm that I just want to celebrate what they accomplished and not how they ended. But the grim realities of the Khmer Rouge’s atrocities can not ignored and the truth of the matter adds a tragic dimension to the riotous sounds, as if the musicians wanted to experience as much pleasure as they possibly could in their short lives and what resulted was this insanely beautiful music.
It’s sort of a message from beyond about how expansive a musician’s imagination can be when they are allowed to cut loose, about how we can all so easily get along, blasting rock and roll and go-go dancing in the backyard under fortune’s bright stars. Most importantly, it is a message of pure, unadulterated joy which is, was and always will be the greatest threat to the dark-hearted.
John Pirozzi will be in Philadelphia screening Don’t Think That I’ve Forgotten at The International House on Wednesday July 22.
Don’t Think That I’ve Forgotten OST Tracklist:
1. The Royal University of Fine Arts – Phnom Penh
2. Sinn Sisamouth – Under the Sound of Rain
3. Chhoun Malay – The Story of My Love
4. Huoy Meas – Unique Child
5. Baksey Cham Krong – B.C.K.
6. Ros Serey Sothea – Don’t Be Angry
7. Sinn Sisamouth – Dance A Go Go
8. Pen Ran – There’s Nothing To Be Ashamed Of
9. Baksey Cham Krong – Full Moon
10. Sinn Sisamouth and Ros Serey Sothea – Thevary My Love
11. Ros Serey Sothea – Heaven’s Song
12. Sinn Sisamouth – Navy A Go Go
13. Sieng Vannthy – Console Me
14. Yol Aularong & Va Sovy – Dying Under a Woman’s Sword
15. Drakkar – Crazy Loving You
16. Pou Vannary – You’ve Got a Friend
17. Yol Aularong – Cyclo
18. Ros Serey Sothea – Old Pot Still Cooks Good Rice
19. Sinn Sisamouth – Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten
20. Cheam Chansovannary – Oh! Phnom Penh